If there’s one fruit that’s most associated with the tropics, it’s the mango. The Keitt mango is the super-sized variety – a giant serving of delicious, natural sweetness. There are 5 different mango varieties grown at Horizon, and our favorite, by a long shot, is the Keitt.
Some 40 different varieties are grown on the islands, and of these there are about 10 which produce the bulk of the mango crops. The Keitt is a late harvest variety. It generally ripens from August through October, or even into November. The other mangoes here on the property, and state-wide in general, are usually finished by July or August.
The Keitt mango
The Keitt mango is huge, easily weighing in between 2 to 4 pounds each! What’s a little unusual about this variety is that it doesn’t change color to indicate that it’s ripe. In years past, we would wait for the expected color change before picking – the Keitt’s green skin will stay green, even if it’s ripe – and then unfortunately the fruit would fall to the ground, turning to mush from the bruising.
Ensure the mango is ripe by pressing gently on the skin – it should give slightly. The mango may need to sit for a few more days after picking to ensure it has ripened enough. Don’t store mangos in the refrigerator as they don’t like the cold. The best way to prepare a mango is to slice around the seed, cutting the flesh in a cross-hatch pattern.
History of the Keitt
The Keitt mango originated from a seedling of the Mulgoba cultivar and was named for Mrs J.N. Keitt who planted the first seed in Florida in 1939. By the mid-1940s it was being grown commercially, the variety praised for it’s ease of growing, flavor, and low fiber. This variety is also found throughout Central and South America as well as Hawaii.
Keitt mango trees grow to a medium size, allowing them to bear the heavy fruit they produce. The flesh itself is sweet, with low amounts of fiber, a thin seed, and the skin is mostly green with a purple or red tinge. This variety is anthracnose resistant, meaning it is resistant to a fungal disease causing dark lesions. The fruit also has a long shelf life.
The versatile mango
Just like a peach, the versatile mango can be used to flavor pies, jam, chutney, ice cream, sorbets, relishes, preserves, juices as well as being used in a wide array of baked goods. Of course, just like a really good peach, nothing beats the fresh fruit, especially when it’s chilled. A fresh mango topped cheese cake, or served alone with spoonful of vanilla ice cream… yum! Here in Hawaii, mango bread is widely popular as a fruit substitute for banana. When mangos are in season we often make mango flavored bread (with cranberries, pictured above) and mango muffins – a great addition to the breakfast menu.
Mango wood has become a popular wood both for furniture and also art objects. Mango trees reach maturity for harvesting at between seven to fifteen years. The wood itself does not require intensive processing and drying. Another reason for its popularity is that it has a very similar look to teak.
Fun fact! Mango wood is sustainable. The wood is already a by-product of the industrial mango fruit industry and the trees are quick to mature compared to other trees. Once the trees have finished fruiting they are harvested for their wood and then replaced with the next crop of mangos.
Besides being an attractive tree, it produces a beautiful and useful wood. Local craftsman use mango (when they can get it) to produce wooden art work and beautiful bowls and boxes (as pictured). Mango doesn’t have the cache of koa, but because there is so little available, it ranks up there as far as desirability among the wood workers.