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It’s Mango Season: Here’s What You Need to Know

Southwest Florida produces some of the sweetest yellow softballs around; picking the right one can mean all the difference in taste.

BY August 3, 2016














Summer is slower for some of our more fickle crops, but not the stout, stoic mango. The fruit-bearing trees thrive in the intense heat and sprout their juicy orbs at its height.

There are two main types you’ll find, and knowing which is which will make your next salsa, sorbet or snack strike the right balance between savory and sweet.

A plump, fibrous Tommy (left) with a smooth, flat Champagne (right)

The Tommy Atkins (or “Tommy”) is the commercial crop in the Sunshine State. Developed in the 1920s by a farmer in Broward County after whom it’s named, the spherical fruit is nearly double the size of its closest competitor and carries a distinctly tart profile and fibrous flesh (some might call it borderline stringy). The Ataulfo, or “Champagne,” mango, from Mexico and also grown in Haiti, is its petite, compact and intensely sweet cousin. If no dessert is ever too sugary, consider this flattened Pacman for you—and its cartoonish shape belies an interior so buttery you could slice it with a spoon.

Champagnes and Tommys show their true colors to be yellow (the former) and often reddish-greenish (the latter), but neither matters for ripeness: Go for the ones that are soft to the touch.

And if eating local means something to you, unless you’re plucking them from one of Pine Island’s many U Pick farms (which are definitely worth a visit even in the hottest sun for a descent into Old Florida), always check labels at stores and, sadly, even at farm stands. On a recent drive home from Arcadia, a roadside detour yielded produce from everywhere but here—Georgia, Mexico, New Jersey, North Florida (yes, we want farmers to be in the black, but that veers into black sheep territory!).


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