It is 35ºC (95ºF) here today – 35ºC!! And its not even summer yet. Somebody should mention that at the G20 in Brisbane. Anyway, before heading in a direction I shouldn’t go, here is an easy mango icy pole recipe to prepare you for the impending heat.
I’m a mango lover from way back. During the summer holidays for university, we decided to try a “get rich quick” scheme by picking fruit in Bundaberg, Queensland. The idea was that you pick fruit for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, for a couple of weeks, at a generous (well it seemed generous back in the day) hourly wage. The farm we managed to find with fruit picking available was a mango farm which was, for me, a bonus. In my idealised version of mango picking, which involved wearing gingham dresses and running around on a farm all day laughing and eating mangoes, this sounded like a dream job. We would start at 5am and finish around 2pm, so we could spend the rest of the day having fun and exploring the area. How hard could it be?
How wrong we were… Mango picking is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Even now, whenever I’m faced with having to do something I don’t really want to do, I think back on those few weeks. We were asked to wear cotton, long sleeved shirts, as the average temperature in Bundaberg during January is 30ºC. The other reason, as we were soon to find out, is that when plucked off the branch, the mango squirts a caustic sap which burns the skin. We were instructed to flick our wrists to snap the mango off at a certain angle to avoid the sap squirt, and also provided with plastic gloves and a basic solution with which to rinse our hands. Not only must you be careful that the sap doesn’t get on your skin, but you should avoid it getting on the skin of the mango too. The sap will cause the skin of the mango to blacken which means it may be rejected by the buyer for imperfections. A slightly intimidating start, but then we were informed that we could eat as many mangoes as we wished. That made my day and I couldn’t wait to begin!
Well, for a couple of days, when the whole novelty of picking and eating mangoes wore off. I managed to figure out multiple ways to cut, peel and eat mangoes, including without a knife. In 30ºC+, a long-sleeved shirt and plastic gloves were *hot*. Really hot. It was hard, physical work, which my lazy lounging-around-university-drinking-days-and-not-much-else self was not used to. There were flies swarming around the squished ripe mangoes on the ground. I was starting to get RSI from snapping the mangoes off their branches at the same angle. Occasionally the sap would reach my skin, so I spent half the time rinsing my arms in the basic solution to avoid mango burns. And that was only day one. By day three, when we arrived home around 3pm, we were pretty much ready for bed. We could barely make it to a cafe for a coffee, let alone spend the hours partying away. And even better, my skin started to develop a reaction to the basic solution that we were using to rinse off the mango sap, and my whole face started to peel, section by section. Pretty.
We somehow made it through the first week, with the first paycheck and weekend off renewing our spirits. Week 2 continued in much the same way, and then week 3 rolled around. The only thing keeping me going was the pay, the prospect of finishing up at the end of the third week, and hearing stories from the other fruit pickers that there is a plant worse than mangoes to pick (apparently garlic which grows low on the ground in full sun – back breaker). We were asked to work overtime for the last 10 days in a row, as the mangoes were ripening quicker than expected. We probably would have said no, aside from the fact it was double pay time, which would really make the whole experience worthwhile. My boyfriend at the time was picking with me, and in that final week he developed an uncontrollable and painful swollen itch, which turned out to be mango rash (caused by the tree branches cutting his leg and sap getting in). Yes, there is such a thing as mango rash, and it doesn’t come from eating too many. He was unable to keep picking (and could do nothing but sit in the freezer or writhe around in agony), so he missed out on those couple of days at double time pay.
Needless to say, after 3.5 weeks of mango picking, I learnt that money doesn’t grow easily on mango trees. I never wanted to see another mango. Actually, I think I stopped eating them by the end of the first week. It took me a couple of years to eat a mango again, but fortunately those times have passed and the memories have (almost) faded.
This recipe uses mangoes from the Northern Territory which I bought last week on the way back from Jervis Bay at a roadside stall. Not as good as my favourite Bowen mangoes, but they were still sweet and delicious. I couldn’t resist buying a whole case, and what better way to use them than to team them up with some lime and ginger. I know that the chilli and salt combination may sound weird, but it really works well with the sweetness of the mango, so please believe me on this one. If you really don’t like spicy food, you can always leave it (and the salt) out. This recipe fills 2 x 4 packs of double icy poles (like the ones in the photo).
- 2 cups of ripe mangoes (approx 4 medium sized mangoes, cut open and flesh scooped out)
- 1 lime, juiced and zest
- 3/4 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
- 1 cm ginger, finely grated
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon celtic sea salt
- 2 cups of Greek natural yoghurt
- 1.5 tablespoons honey (you may need more or less, depending on how sweet the mangoes are)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean essence
- Icy pole moulds + sticks
- Put the mangoes, lime juice and zest, chilli flakes, ginger, coconut oil and salt in a blender or food processor and pulse a couple of times until it is mixed through and roughly blended. Be careful with a high speed blender, you want the mango to have some texture still and not be completely juiced. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, stir the honey and vanilla essence through the yoghurt until it is mixed well.
- Using a teaspoon, spoon a couple of teaspoons of the mango mixture into the icy pole mould until it is about a third full. Then spoon a couple of teaspoons of the yoghurt mix in, and another couple of teaspoons of the mango mixture. You should have distinct layers. Use a skewer (or a strand of spaghetti) to lightly swirl the layers together. Repeat until all the moulds are filled.
- Put the icy poles into the freezer for at least 4-5 hours, and then loosen with a bit of warm water when you are ready to eat and beat the heat! Best served on the next day or two after freezing.