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Best Mangoes in Australia
It is only when the smell of ripening mangoes filled my North Queensland kitchen that I knew Christmas had arrived. The Mango Season started well before Christmas and the precious remaining few were always saved for Christmas breakfast.
After that the pickings were slim.
In North Queensland Bowen Mangoes, also known as Bowen Specials or Kensington Prides are considered the best mango in Australia. Unlike Common mangoes they slice easily. Believed to have come originally from India they are now grown in Queensland, Northern N.S.W., the Northern Territory and Carnarvon on the Coast in Western Australia.
Traditionally everyone grew Commons in their NQ back yard, but although flavoursome and sweet, they are super messy to eat.
In Southern Queensland the best locally grown Bowens/Kensington Prides don’t appear until January.
Bowen Mangoes for Christmas in North Queensland
Commons are the best mango for the making of Mango Chutney (recipe below). The chutney is made with unripe mangoes. The Common Mango is easily sliced when unripe as the strings have not yet formed, although they do leave a coating of sap on your fingers. To be fair all unripe mangoes leave a coating of sap. Some people use gloves when making mango chutney.
Since our move to South-East Queensland I have used unripe Kensington Prides with great results.
The trick with home made mango chutney is to let it rest after bottling for at least two weeks before tasting. The longer it is left, the better it tastes. I have eaten my unopened mango chutney up to three years old (when discovered lurking in the back of a cupboard), and it was delicious.
Chutney is a great condiment with curries or on cold meat sandwiches.
Jan’s Famous Mango Chutney Recipe
10 large green (unripe) mangoes, chop finely
1 kg (2 lbs.) light brown soft sugar
140g (¼ lb.) dates, chopped
140g (¼ lb.) preserved ginger (I use crystallized ginger) – choose a gluten free one if req’d
140g (¼ lb.) Sultanas, chopped
6 Chillies, chopped
30 g (1 oz.) garlic, minced
1 tblsp. Salt
750 ml of white vinegar (don’t use malt vinegar if making it gluten free)
- Peel and chop mangoes, salt, and cover with water overnight.
- Strain and wash.
- Boil all ingredients, except sugar until tender.
- Add sugar, and simmer another 2 hours.
- Pour into sterilised bottles and seal.
- Be diligent with the sterilising of bottles.
- Once the bottles are filled, group them together with lids on tight and while still hot, pour boiling water over them. As they cool you will hear them pop as they seal.
New Varieties of Mango in Queensland
North Queensland and Queensland in general, is quite multi-cultural with largish populations of Asian residents, mainly from Thailand and the Philippines. They, together with our New Guinean neighbours have introduced new varieties of mango.
One of those, Nam Doc Mai are sweet, but lack the depth of flavour of Bowen’s. The Thai ladies however, who sell them at markets consider them far superior to Bowen mangoes. I guess it depends on where you spent your childhood. Nam Doc Mai, are great in mango salsa (recipe below).
Mango Salsa Recipe
Combine – 3 sliced ripe Mangoes, 2 chopped Tomatoes, 2 finely chopped Shallots including the green tops, torn fresh Basil and torn fresh Mint to taste, sprinkle of Balsamic Vinegar. Serve immediately.
It just so happens that I have some chilled mango, sliced and waiting for me in the fridge, so what am I doing here talking about mangoes when I can be eating them!