The mango season in Jamaica is typically July and August. Mangoes become available a few weeks before and after the season as various varieties ripen early or late, just like any fruit, but the bulk of the season is during the decadently hot summer months. A fresh Jamaican mango is like no other fruit on earth, and until you’ve had one, you have not eaten a mango. The poor relations that find themselves on supermarket shelves in the United States are only mango substitutes, better than nothing but not the real thing.
The fresh mangoes that are plucked from Jamaican trees are large fruits with lots of succulent flesh. Some of the varieties offer flesh that has no stringiness to it, and these are the most sought-after fruits. In the local markets, look for John Bellyful and Tommy Atkins mangoes to experience the most succulent flesh. Other mango varieties that are equally popular are Bombay, East Indian and St. Julie.
Many restaurants in Jamaica load their summertime menus with mangoes, and have concocted a countless number of dishes that use mangoes. Mango chutney is one such popular dish, but by no means all that can be found. One Negril restaurant lists a mango and cucumber salad on their menu and it’s served with sweet potato chips instead of forks for eating. The possibilities of cooking with mangoes are endless, limited only by the cook’s creativity.
Mangoes are an excellent source of Vitamin C and A, as well as some other traces of Vitamins B, E and K. With only about 75 calories per mango, they are an excellent food source that even contain a little bit of protein. They also contain an enzyme that helps to digest food and calm a nervous stomach.
Are fresh mangoes the perfect food? Once you’ve visited Jamaica and eaten a sun-warmed freshly-picked mango with the juice running down your chin, you may well agree that they are the best food you’ve ever eaten.