I first started making preserves because we had an abundance of lemons from our backyard lemon tree. When we moved to Townsville, in Far North Queensland, we inherited a backyard mango tree which put a whole new perspective the idea of too much fruit to eat. A fresh ripe tender mango is a beautiful thing but a treeful of mangoes is a challenge. The summer smell of rotting back yard mangoes is something that must be experienced to be believed. Summer evenings bring flocks of flying foxes to squabble and feast on the fruit. Summer heat cooks and rots the broken fruit and the smell seeps out everywhere on hot humid afternoons. It is a memory that sits forever in the back of the brain. Our daughter dislikes mangoes and blames this dislike on the smell which recalls dodging rotten mangoes on foot path the way to school. (Also dodging mangoes thrown in mango fights by her brother and the neighborhood boys and the smell of mango in hair.)
Back in mid 1980’s, Townsville had a very entrepreneurial man who drove around town with a truck and a cherry picker and picked people’s mangos. The deal was the householder got their mangoes picked for them for free (less mess, smell of rotting mangoes and flying fox noise). The house holders got as many mangoes as they wanted and the mango man sold the rest. A win – win situation. He had so many people wanting his services that he could pick and choose from the finest trees. Our tree was a lowly common mango and beneath his consideration. So when Allan’s work mate gave him a recipe for mango chutney we were ready to give it a go. With practice, peeling and chopping mangoes isn’t that bad although it was est to wear gloves. Brown sugar, chili ginger and spices bubbled away in the pot with the mangoes and the result was bottled and stored in a dark cupboard for the flavours to develop. The result was magnificent slathered on bread and cheese or corned meat. We had to make big batches to last the year.
It has been a long time since we have lived in north Queensland and had a mango tree. I haven’t made mango chutney for years. Recently a lady in my book group offered me some mangoes from her backyard mango tree. I went mango picking on a beautiful summer day and got heaps. Panic set in when I could not find the old handwritten recipe in my recipe file. I went looking in my recipe books and on the internet and then back to my note books. Now I am torn – do I make the old faithful from long ago or do I make one of the newer versions?