“What the heck am I going to do with all these mangoes?” I threw my arms up in the air, sizing up yet another batch of mangoes Kevin was trying to keep together in the lap of his arms as he entered the house. Six of them. Huge. The size of small melons, I’d say.
“I don’t know, honey. But we can’t let them go to waste, right?” he replied, a plea in his voice.
The way he was hugging those mangoes clearly indicated that he wasn’t going to let go of them until I committed.
I looked in his eyes and smiled. I couldn’t deny my husband being a good mangowinner. Our primary mangowinner under the circumstances. Not only does he service his client’s pool but he also harvests his mango tree that gracefully shades the pool from the sun.
Oh, some people are just born with a mango tree in their backyard but can’t appreciate the goods it gives. Not until the goods are gone anyway. And then there are the rest of us who hope for a good season and our neighbor’s admirable intentions to keep their backyard mess-free or for a timely sale at the local farmers’ market to catch a dozen ripe mangoes at a reasonable price and avoid the trouble of babysitting brown paper bags that coax unripe pieces into ripening. Just place a mango or two inside one and keep it in a dark, warm place, like your garage, for example, for a few days. I can’t put a more precise time span on the process since this is the part I infallibly fail: as fast as those paper bags make green mangoes ripen, they turn the perfectly mature pieces into a mushy, smelly mess even faster.
I just hope there won’t be too many more of these hopes since we are the proud parents of a one-year-old mango tree that we hatched from scratch a year ago. Well, the baby mango tree and Nicole are growing like weeds. The tree just outgrew its third pot, and Nicole can’t fit into most of her T5 and some of her T6 clothes. She is not five yet!
“Maybe you can make more of those mango popsicles for us?” Kevin ventured to suggest.
“Oh yeah? It would be nice if you guys finished those I made last week!” I snapped.
I had no reason to snap though. I guess popsicles are just not my family’s idea of a cool summer staple. Kevin riffs on ice cream year round, I can’t kick my Russian habit up to now and would rather have a cup of hot tea and a piece of cake on a 101-degree-Fahrenheit afternoon, and Nicole . . . What excuse does she have? It’s summertime! It’s crazy hot here! She is a kid! This simple equation screams POPSICLES!
My train of thought was interrupted by Nicole who came in hot and sweaty from playing out in the backyard and made her way to the freezer side of the fridge . . . just to fill her glass with water and ice. Hmm. The choice I didn’t feel so disappointed about. In fact, I had a hard time refraining from jumping up and down for joy: the juice war was delayed.
I took the mangoes from Kevin and put them on the fruit platter next to the ones he’d brought home a week prior. Some of them, well, most of them, to be quite frankly, had reached a point of no return by that time, so to speak. Or so I thought. As I reached for the overripe pieces, intent to send them down the trash can, the perfume they were giving off made my arms freeze in the air. It was sweet, kind of powdery, with a hint of citrus. I couldn’t help grabbing one and pressing my nose against it. Haaaaaaaaaa. Oh, so sweet.
Surprised, I lingered my eyes on the bright green and red fruit with a smooth, waxy skin that seemed easily indented if touched; and as I thought of the fate most of the mangoes from that tree were doomed to meet during their season’s peak, a wave of shame and protest swept through me. I knew that with hunger still existing in our world and with food prices on the rise, I had no moral right to treat nature’s abundance and my husband’s friend’s generosity in such a selfish and meaningless fashion. Not when the mangoes smelt so arousing anyway.
It was time to rethink the ways I handled the fruits whose flavor was just starting to decline. Could waste possibly have any taste? I needed to find out. I cut one of the mangoes open. Bright orange, it tasted creamy and overwhelmingly sweet. In fact, so sweet I could taste powdered sugar settle on my tongue.
Sweet, creamy, and aromatic sounded like a perfect filling for a cool, silky, and gelatinous pie with a crunchy layer of a graham cracker crust on the bottom and a cloud of freshly whipped cream on the top. For balance, I used quite a bit of lime juice. Its zesty flavor shook things up nicely.
As for freshly whipped cream, I made some from coconut milk—a technique I spotted at Nutty Kitchen at the last minute—and was pleasantly surprised to find that adding a third flavor lent the pie more depth, thus making it a true tropical delight.
The pie was a huge success. Kevin and I just split it in half and finished it in one seating. Nicole went for a mango popsicle this time. Hmm. The choice I didn’t feel so disappointed about as mangoes, often understated, are full of surprising health benefits.
Recipe for Olga’s Original No-Bake Mango Lime Pie:
1. 9-inch ready-made graham cracker pie crust
2. 1 big or 2 medium-sized mangoes, peeled and pitted
3. 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice, bottled lime juice or a combination of both
4. 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
5. 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
Whipped cream, for serving
1. In a blender or food processor, puree mango. Set aside.
2. Place lime juice in a small saucepan and sprinkle gelatin granules on top. Cook, stirring constantly, over low heat for about 2 to 3 minutes to dissolve gelatin.
3. Remove from heat and add condensed milk.
4. Stir mango into milk mixture.
5. With an electric mixer, beat mango and milk mixture at medium speed for about 2 to 3 minutes or until fluffy. This step is optional.
6. Pour into crust.
7. Cover and chill 8 hours or until set.
8. Serve with coconut whipped cream. Get the recipe for it here.
Makes 1 9-inch pie.
1. The trickiest part to making this pie a success is using good quality mangoes at the right stage of ripeness. They have to be very ripe but not touched by fermentative products yet.
2. Take care when peeling and pitting mangoes. They are mischievously slippery. Here you can find some techniques on how to peel and cut them.
2. Stirring constantly to avoid any lumps is paramount to ensuring a smooth and creamy texture of the filling.
3. Taking an extra step to beat mango and milk mixture with an electric mixer right before pouring it into the crust makes the filling light and fluffy, almost airy.
4. You can easily dress this pie up by making your own graham cracker crust or down by using store-bought crust, lime juice, and whipped topping that would do most of the work for you.