Sunday, July 25, 2010

Life in the Quarantine Zone

Early Saturday morning two DPI people stopped by with news. If no medflies show up in the area, the quarantine will be lifted on September 2.

With luck we still might have 2-3 varieties of mango in September ...maybe even jak fruit. A lot can happen in 5 weeks, but we hope for at least a couple weeks when we are permitted to sell fresh fruit AND have fruit to sell.

Several people showed up to slice and freeze mangos yesterday. What began as a way to take mangos home while under quarantine restrictions became a social experience. In addition to tasting many varieties and having fruit to thaw when needed, people who otherwise would have never met shared experience, techniques and enthusiasm for the fruit. Cutting fruit in our breezeway worked out well, and we will set up for that every Saturday morning until the end of the quarantine or until we no longer have mangos to sell.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Ripening Fruit

Our 'Haden' trees, especially the ones next to the street, are full of large yellow mangos heavily blushed with red. Many people notice them and stop. Not only are mangos are the ultimate fruit, but they also are or should be an essential summer experience for everyone in South Florida. A few minutes ago I told two sets of people that, because of one fly found three miles from here, I cannot sell or give away any fruit. The Spanish-speaking man did not understand at all. English is my first language and I have spent hours researching the medfly, and I do not understand either.

But the focus of the day has been preparing for Saturday's paring. Green mangos are in our garage so that the warmth can speed their ripening. Our (air-conditioned) kitchen is filled with boxes and bags of about 15 varieties of ripe and nearly ripe fruit. This morning we set up a table in the breezeway and figured out a few things to make cutting and peeling easier and more enjoyable. With any luck the rain will have cleared out by Saturday morning, but we will be open from 9 am to noon ...rain or shine.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Mangos Mangos Everywhere (B.Y.O.K.)

The bounty is plentiful, and we now have a plan whereby we can sell our mangos.

This Saturday morning we will set up a table or two for mango peeling and cutting. Bring your favorite knife, buy the fruit you would like to freeze (and/or consume on the property), cut it up, and put it in a Ziploc bag with your name on it. We will put it in our chest freezer. A couple days later you can pick it up and save it in your own freezer for the winter.

I freeze mangos every year and thaw a bag every time we have a special guest (who happened to have missed mango season). It is always a treat, and certainly beats the heck out of any store-bought mango. I also dice a few bags of mangos to freeze and use later in the year for mango bread.

Most varieties that are ripe now are excellent to freeze ...including Bailey's Marvel, Fairchild, Carrie, Florigon, Valencia Pride, Tommy Atkins, Van Dyke, Irwin, Pim Seng Mun, and lots of Haden. We also have Graham, Bombay, Dwarf Hawaiian and Lemon Meringue, but these four varieties I do not recommend freezing.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Quarantine, Part I

The USDA and DPI (Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Plant Industry) have decreed that plants and fruit cannot leave our property. Unfortunately these extreme measures are hitting at the peak of mango season. In the past week I've peeled hundreds of pounds of mangos, made many batches of mango bread, and had friends make enormous amounts of chutney. But more mangos ripen daily. Every time I meet with USDA/DPI people I ask to be able to sell fruit to people who live in the quarantine zone, which is similar to what citrus producers were allowed to do when under quarantine. Instead of easing restrictions, they say we must wait for the quarantine to be lifted in our area, which they expect to happen in about 76 days.

Here's a map of the area that's affected by the medfly quarantine.

and another article on the medfly in Palm Beach County