Potholes on the Road to the Mango Melee
My last post was all about getting ready for the Mango Melee in St. Croix. Shortly after that post, I was all set. I had my ingredients prepped, jars and labels at the ready, and plans for getting to St. Croix with the sauce and jam confirmed.
And then it began to rain … And it didn’t stop. Mangos need rain to ripen, but they also need sunshine and we didn’t have any. For days. And days.
By the time the sun came out, I was down with the flu. Guess who didn’t make it to the Mango Melee? Right – me.
The days stayed sunny, I got well, the mangos ripened … And I wasn’t about to let them go to waste. Our friends, whose mango trees we planned to harvest, were off-island by then, so my husband and I harvested mangos at their place every other day. I’m not talking about a few pieces of fruit each day. We harvested a buckets of them at a time. I spent an hour or two each day processing them – cutting the flesh off of each one, pureeing it, and freezing bags of the stuff for use in hot sauce and jam.
Guess who is allergic to mangos? If you guessed me, you’re right again. Apparently, the mango is a relative of poison ivy and some people are sensitive to it. I wore gloves while I was cutting the fruit (most of the time), but I did not wear them when picking. Washing the fruit at harvest time, and then washing up when we got home was not enough to counter the effects of the chemical in the sap. Because I was exposed to so much mango, I had a severe reaction – swollen face and hands, and a rash on my hands, legs and feet. The rash not only itched, it hurt like hell. Benadryl, calamine lotion and oatmeal baths did nothing for me. I had to get prescription-strength cortisone ointment and put that goo on the rash four times a day. As of now, I can’t even eat mango without a bad reaction.
The silver lining in all of this is that people love my Mango Hot Sauce and Mango Pepper Jam, so I will be adding them to my list of “Summer’s” products, along with some other pepper jams I have developed. Those recipes aren’t available online, but you can enjoy some mangos in my recipe for Summer’s Secret Mango Bread, which I have just uploaded.
As for next year, I might be able to attend the Mango Melee and sell my hot sauce and jam, but I will have to get a new outfit.
Happy – and safe – cooking!