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Mango madness: No better place to grow them 'than coastal Palm Beach County'

Posted: 10:00 p.m. Wednesday, June 17, 2015


Meghan McCarthy
Tropical Acres Farms grows colorful Van Dyke mangoes. The farm’s hours are from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. until noon Saturday.

Meghan McCarthy
Alexander Salazar, owner of Tropical Acres Farms, stands beneath a Mulgoba mango tree that was planted as a mature tree in the 1920s. Coastal Palm Beach County is one of the top spots to grow tropical fruits ‘because of the sugar-sand soil and its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean,’ he said.

Meghan McCarthy
Alexander Salazar, Tropical Acres Farms owner, holds a cut Edward mango. It is one of the newly introduced varieties of the fruit, including Carrie, Kent, Irwin, Simmons, Haden and Duncan.

Meghan McCarthy
Tropical Acres Farms grows Duncan mangoes. The farm also specializes in several dozen varieties of avocados, bananas, sapodilla, lychees, mamey sapote, jaboticaba and carambola.
Shiny Shots: Local mangoes

By Roberta Sabban

Daily News Food Editor

The Tropical Acres Farms sits on seven acres in West Palm Beach. The farm has more than 130 trees, which are heavy with fruit this time of year.

 Many of its stately trees were planted during the 1950s and have weathered killer frosts, droughts, hurricanes and urban development.

The grove, located just off Southern Boulevard on Camellia Road, remains one of the last fragments of mango madness that began in South Florida more than 100 years ago.

“There is not a better place to grow mangoes than coastal Palm Beach County,” said Alexander Salazar, who owns the farm. 

“Tropical fruits have been planted on the site since the 1920s. It is one of the best locations for cultivating tropical fruit because of the sugar-sand soil and its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. The sea breezes help temper humidity and disease. Our fruit comes out clean.”

First mango trees in Florida

M.U. Mounts, then the county agent, documented the history of mangoes in Palm Beach County in a report that was published in the 1961 Florida State Horticultural Society. Mulgoba trees were planted in West Palm Beach around 1898. At that time, they were the only East Indian mango tree growing in America. A hard freeze in 1899 did some damage to the trees but they managed to survive.

Mangoes had a hypnotic effect on horticulturists in those days. They realized that South Florida had near perfect conditions for growing tropical fruits and premium quality crops could play an important part in the state’s economy.

Florida growers began to experiment with seedlings from the original mulgoba and other varieties from Southeast Asia, Jamaica and Latin America. 

The program was successful. Newly introduced strains included Carrie, Kent, Edward, Irwin, Simmons, Haden and Duncan.

“I regard mangoes as a lot of things. They are beautiful and aromatic,” said Salazar, 26. 

“It is one of the best-tasting fruits in the world but I cannot exactly describe the flavor. It is what separates them from other tropical fruits.”

‘Longing for a taste of home’

Knowledgeable consumers come to buy specific mangoes. Salazar sells all of the Carrie that he can grow. 

This small, bright yellow mango is sweet with a spicy component and a slightly resin finish. 

“Many of my customers who come from different parts of the world to buy mangoes have a common connection: they have a love and longing for a taste of home.”

Locally grown mangoes will be at the peak through August. There are dozens of varieties to pick from, each with different textures and flavors. 

Salazar is experimenting with several new trees that show great promise. They are sweet tart, lemon zest (that he says has more of an orange sherbet flavor) and Angie.

Besides mangoes, the farm specializes in several dozen varieties of avocados, bananas, sapodilla, lychees, mamey sapote, jaboticaba and carambola.

The farm sells tree-ripened fruit throughout the summer season at a farm stand located on the property. Mango prices are: $1 per pound of dropped fruit, $2 per pound of picked fruit. 

The farm’s hours are from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. until noon Saturday. 

For more information, send an email to or visit Tropical Acres Farm, 1010 Camellia Road, West Palm Beach.

Mangoes 101

Ripe mangoes should be full, slightly firm yet tender with tight skin. Sniff the stem end. The fruit should have a pleasant aroma, no scent means no flavor. The best-eating mangoes have firm, sweet flesh and almost no fiber.

Varieties of green mangoes are used to make chutneys and pickles. The green mango season is almost over.

To cut a mango, place the fruit, stem side up, on a firm surface. Using a paring knife, make a vertical slice about ½-inch to the right of the stem. It should barely clear the long, flat stone that runs the length of the fruit. Repeat on the other side. Pare the skin from the seed section and cut the flesh from the seed.

Score flesh of each half in slices or squares. Press the skin so that the cut side is outward and cut the flesh from the skin.

Mango Chutney

* ¼ cup packed brown sugar

* ¼ cup white vinegar

* ¼ cup raisins

* ½ teaspoon ground cloves

* ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

* ¼ teaspoon cinnamon

* ¼ teaspoon salt

* ½ cup onion, finely chopped

* 2 cups mangoes, cut in small cubes

* 2 tablespoons lime or lemon juice

In a heavy saucepan, combine sugar, vinegar, raisins, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and onion. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for five minutes.

Add mango cubes and simmer, stirring until thick (about five minutes). Remove from heat and stir in lemon or lime juice. Cool. Chill for several hours.

Makes two cups.


Mango Pistachio Ice Cream

* 3 cups mango purée

* 1½ cups sweetened condensed milk

* 1½ cups evaporated milk

* ½ cup coarsely chopped pistachios

Place all of the ingredients, except for the pistachios, in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Stir in the pistachios. Place in containers and freeze until completely hardened.

Makes about six cups.


Mango Smoothie

* 2 large ripe mangoes

* 2 tablespoons sugar

* 2 cups water

Peel, pit and slice the mangoes. Put in a blender with the sugar and water. Blend into a smooth liquid purée. Serve cold.

Makes three to four servings.

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Come this summer pamper your loved ones abroad with a box of delicious mangoes through DHL’s Express Easy Mango service, a unique one-stop-shop and hassle-free service for gifting mangoes all across the world.

This unique service by DHL Express, the world’s leading express company, allows customers to send mangoes from India across the world to the following countries Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Hong Kong, Italy, Luxemburg, Maldives, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Qatar Singapore, Switzerland and Sweden.

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