This time of year, mango trees tend to produce more fruit than you can consume. Whether you get your mangoes off your own backyard trees or from those of inundated friends, it’s time to freeze the excess harvest to enjoy all year long.
We offer three tried-and-true methods that provide good-quality frozen fruit that is easy to use when the time comes:
Frozen whole: My favorite way to freeze mangoes is also the easiest. For each mango, I mark the year, using a permanent-ink felt-tip pen, on a sandwich-size plastic bag. Then I fill it with one mango, seal it, and freeze it.
That way, on the off chance that I have leftovers from a prior year’s harvest, I know which mangoes to use first.
To serve: When ready to eat the fruit, remove as many mangoes as you need from the freezer and set them on the counter for about one hour, until they are soft but not completely defrosted.
Cut down along each side of the pit, removing the two “cheeks” of the fruit. Using a spoon, scoop the softened flesh out of each half. You can eat it right from the shell, or serve this vibrant-flavored, creamy mango “sorbet” in dishes.
I serve it over whatever fruit is fresh when I decide to defrost my mangoes. I particularly like the sorbet with almond-flavored baked goods, such as almond tuilles and cakes. A sprinkling of toasted slivered almonds over the top is a nice addition.
Frozen slices: This is a good way to process not-too-ripe mangoes that slice neatly and easily. Begin by peeling the whole fruit. Cut the fruit into slices, from top to bottom, on each side of the pit.
You can choose how thick to make the slices, but remember: They will have to be removed from the baking pan where you now place them. To get the frozen slices off the sheet, you need to almost chisel them off with a spatula.
The frozen slices are brittle. So if they are very thin, there’s more chance of breaking them into useless bits. Slightly thicker slices come off beautifully, however.
Set the pan flat in your freezer. When the slices are solid, use a spatula to pop them off the pan and stack the slices in freezer bags before returning them to the freezer.
To serve: The frozen fruit will have a softer texture than fresh mangoes, but it can still be used in breads and pies. It also can be used in fruit cups to add a taste of summer to your winter table.
Or, for something different, toss the fruit slices with a bit of ground cinnamon and ginger to serve over roasted or grilled pork during the winter holidays.
Frozen purée: This is a good way to use the scraps left over from slicing the fruit, and fruits that are very ripe. Peel, pit, and place the fruits in a blender. Purée until smooth, and then pour into freezer containers that are whatever size you wish – individual serving, bulk, even ice cube trays.
To serve: Try using the cubed mango to chill punches or other drinks that you don’t want watered down with melting ice made of water. I like to use the mango cubes in a bloody Mary to create a mango bloody Mary.
The defrosted purée also works well as a sauce for ice cream and cakes. Use it as a base for barbecue sauce. Or mix it with minced red onions, cilantro, and hot peppers for a sauce to use over grilled chicken.
Then again, maybe you’ll just want to eat it with a spoon. It’s that rich and sweet.
Deborah S. Hartz-Seeley is a longtime Florida journalist covering the local food and gardening scene. With a master’s degree in agricultural journalism, she served as food editor of The South Florida Sun-Sentinel for over 20 years.