In the realm of mythological romance is found the story of the golden apples of the Hesperides. Mortals have, all these ages, been wishing for just one bite of those famous apples, reserved for the gods, and guarded by four beautiful sisters. At last, either there has been a lapse on the part of the guards, or else the gods have decided that since the gift came originally from the goddess of Earth, the apples of the Hesperides should be returned to the children of Earth. We are inclined to the latter opinion. We believe that they had lost a bit of their luster and were sent to the studio of Mother Nature to be restored to their original beauty and brilliance. She, catching the spirit of the gift, went immediately to the task. When they came into the hands of the children of Earth, they had never seen such wonderful and beautiful and delicious fruit, for they were the most delicious fruit in the world, and they called them Hayden mangos. and the rest of the Hesperidean apples paled into mere myths in comparison.
There was great joy in the hearts of two people who had for years been hoping for some such event. Captain A. J. Hayden, and his wife, on his retirement from the United States army, had moved to Florida where they dreamed of devoting their time to the cultivation of the fruits and flowers which they both loved. They found many varieties of each, of which neither had ever heard before.
They had a lot of fun experimenting with the fruits. They knew that Mother Nature was a really terrible joker when it came to the planting of seeds from some of the fruits. When they took a bud from some lovely type of fruit and placed it on a strong stock, they knew they would enjoy the same fruit. But after eating the fruit, if they planted the seeds, they knew that they were quite likely to be the victim of one of Nature’s jests and sometimes, when fruit was produced it would not even resemble the delicious variety from which the seed came, but would be small and tasteless, or bitter and sour. On the other hand, sometimes the seed would result in an improved variety, which would be much better than that from which they procured the seed. It was in this manner the Hayden mango was produced.
Captain Hayden had been told that there was up at Magnolia, Florida, a Mulgoba mango from India, which was a very superior variety. One tree had survived the frost of 1895. He went to see it but found on his arrival that the fruit had not yet ripened, for it was pretty far north for the mango to grow. But he wanted some of the fruit with which to do some experimenting so engaged fifty of the mangos to be shipped to him as they ripened. For this fruit he paid twelve dollars and a half. They were sent to him in tomato crates, and were as wonderful as he had hoped, big and delicious and beautifully colored. They gave a few to their friends, ate and enjoyed the balance, carefully saving and planting the seeds. Every one sprouted and a period of five or six years was devoted to the especial care of those forty seedling mangos. When at last they bore fruit, every single one of them was of inferior grade, except one. That one tree had the biggest and most beautifully colored mangos they had ever seen. When they were ripened they were more delicious than any fruit of any variety or type they had ever seen. Their spicy odor and peachlike tender consistency exceeded even their most sanguine hopes and they knew that they had produced a new and superior type of mango, and they dreamed of seeing it widely distributed over tropical countries, taking the place of the smaller and inferior types, then being grown. But Captain Hayden did not live to see even the second crop of the wonderful mangos. which were larger and lovelier and more delicious than any that had ever before been grown in all the world. Mrs. Hayden realizing their value and knowing how to proceed, sent two beautiful specimens to the United States Department of Agriculture at Washington, with the request that the variety be named for the man who had produced it, and so they became the Hayden mangos. Then she took one mango, which was larger than either of the specimens sent to Washington, and sent it to Captain Hayden’s friend, Mr. Ed. Simmons of the Plant Introduction Station at Miami, Florida. It weighed twenty two ounces. Mr. Simmons immediately became interested. He realized the great value of the new product, and took up the work of passing on to the rest of Earth’s children this gift of the gods. Perhaps he didn’t realize that he was being used to distribute a gift with such a history, but his whole life is now being devoted to the passing on of any good thing that grows, or can be made to grow, so again sly Mother Nature smiled to herself as she saw the work placed in his capable hands. His devotion did not cease until lie had seen the Hayden Mango perpetuated and gradually distributed, being ultiniately well established in manygroves. The original tree is still standing near the bay a few miles below Miami. Because of the fact that Mrs. Hayden had the necessary knowledge and the ability to act, there are today uncounted hundreds of acres in the southeast part of Florida, which are being planted to this delicious kind of mango with a goodly sprinkling of Mulgobas.
While it is true that the fruit in its present form did not exist up to five years ago, yet the people of East India and those islands which lie close to the Equator have been eating mangos for ages. Mango trees more than three hundred years old and still vigorous were found in Northern India, by an English horticulturist Charles Maries, twenty years ago while traveling in that section. They were the remnants of an orchard of one hundred thousand trees which had been planted by the Mughul emperor who reigned from 1556 to 1605. This was long years before the planting of extensive commercial orchards was established.
When trade relations between India and the outside world were placed on a firm basis, cultivation of the mango spread to other countries, and is today of more importance to unnumbered millions of people throughout the tropics than is the apple to temperate North America. Comparison of the small area of temperate North America with the territory contained in the wide band which encircles the earth’s surface, lying each side of the Equator and extending to a line drawn a few miles north of Miami, Florida, will accent the difference in the two areas. South of that boundary line lies a territory which is below the frost line, which is the natural home of the mango.
In addition to the many seedling varieties, there are now so many hundreds of acres being planted to the improved varieties of this much loved fruit, that the County Agent of Dade County, Florida, Mr. J. S. Rainey, would not attempt an estimation of their extent, preferring rather to postpone any announcement of the figures, whatsoever, till results of a recent questionnaire on the subject are available.
Dr. David Fairchild, Agricultural Explorer in Charge of Foreign Seed and Plant Introduction, United States Department of Agriculture, says of the mango, “It is the most delicious fruit in the world.” Marshall Schwisher, eminent publisher of music, Philadelphia, in speaking of the same fruit said, “It has the greatest flavor that has ever tickled the palate of man.” It is commonly called the Aristocrat of Fruits, and persons who attempt to describe it, use up all their supply of superlatives, and “hope the day will come when they can serve you with one of the big beautiful Hayden or Mulgobas,” for it is the improved type to which they refer.
The seedlings are far inferior, but still are eaten and enjoyed by millions of people in all tropical countries. Ask ten people who have lived for years in the tropics and nine of them will tell you that the turpentine mango is delicious, and they don’t mind the turpentine flavor at all, in fact that they like it, but, of course, it is not to be compared with the improved mango.
It is a far cry from the little fibre-filled mangos of the jungle type, with their strong turpentine flavor, to the big, beautiful, fibreless mangos, which are about the size of a cantaloupe. There is more difference between the puckery little choke cherry, its big pit, little skin and no meat, and the largest and most highly improved Early Richmond or big, meaty, black cherries. Almost as great a gulf exists between hard. sour, tough crab-apple and a big, beautiful Delicious Apple. Those who have eaten the jungle variety of mango only, and failed to find reason for desiring a second taste, have a delightful surprise awaiting them when they have their first bite of the improved type of the same fruit.
The skin of the Hayden is almost as smooth and glossy as an apple, and its texture is between that of an apple and a peach, while the flesh is one of the ripe golden yellow of the Alberta. The flavor is so delicious that most people are immediately fond of it, and refuse to eat them in any way except sliced, like peaches, or served in halves and eaten with a spoon However there are many ways of preparing them. They are so wholesome and possessed of such an absolutely good taste that much is claimed for them as a beneficial article of diet. Someone has said they didn’t need medicinal value; they were so delicious that they need nothing more to recommend them. Vitamines gambol within their lovely walls, ready to assist in the little matter of the digestion of him who eats thereof. They are eaten in such prodigious quantities by children and grownups alike, that no claim for them seems to sound over enthusiastic. One really hesitates to limit claims thereof. Like the apple of the North “it never was educated. It started to school, but didn’t get there. It was too good to save till school was reached.” In the South one sees children eating them on the way to school, on the streets and everywhere. Improved varieties are being shipped in increasing quantities to markets which eagerly await them, northern markets demanding more than iÍcan at present be supplied.
mangos may be used even before they are ripe. Mrs. C. C. Aston, who was one of the old settlers at the mouth of the Miami River, says that there are two ways of making very simple mango pie.
Green Mango Pie
Take mangos that are just turning, slice thin and stew till tender; add teaspoon butter; line deep pie pan with puff paste; put in mangos; add sugar and juice of half a lemon, or lime; grate nutmeg over top crust, cut in narrow strips and bake in hot oven. Another good way to make mango pie is to boil the mangos; run through a ricer or sieve and make same as egg custard. Many persons prefer to use the mangos while quite green, exactly as they do rhubarb, leaving out all spices, as the rich flavor of the mango needs no addition of seasoning to its palatability. Peel and slice the green mangos. Line the pan with good paste and put the fruit into it. Sprinkle with sugar and flour and add a tablespoon water. This is said to be equal to rhubarb pie and is so similar that many persons mistake it for that Popular member of the Pie tribe.
Ripe Mango Pie
Peel, and slice ripe fruit and proceed as above, using less sugar. By selecting mangos that are not ripe enough to be stringy, even inferior varieties of seeding mangos may be used. Peel and slice thin. Put tablespoon butter in frying pan; heat and add mangos; add sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon; cover and cook very slowly in order not to scorch.
Make a rich baking Powder biscuit dough. Roll almost as thin as pie crust; cut into squares large enough to cover an apple; put in the middle of each square, a piece of mango about the size of an apple: sprinkle a teaspoon of sugar, a small piece of butter; turn the ends of the dough over mango and lap them tight. Lay the dumplings in a well buttered pan, the smooth side upward when the pan is filled put a small piece of butter on top of each dumpling, sprinkle the whole with a cupful of sugar, pour in a cupful of boiling water, then place in moderate oven for an hour. Baste with the liquor once or twice. Serve with sugar and cream or a pudding sauce.
Peel the fruit into neat slices, cutting from stem end. Put in boiling syrup, boil ten minutes, and place in well sterilized jars and seal at once. Make syrup by using one cup sugar and one cup water. Do not attempt to cook large quantity at one time or slices will break.
Mrs. M. E. Jones, who came with her parents to Miami when a child, grew up, married and lived here for a number of years, gives as her simple method of making marmalade of the fibre-filled jungle mangos.
Peel ripe mangos and grate on coarse grater; strain through ricer or sieve to remove fibre; boil five minutes with a little less than equal part sugar till stiff. Others peel the ripe fruit and put into kettle with water to half cover. Pulp may or may not be cut from the seed. The latter makes a smoother marmalade. When the fruit is tender, rub through a colander. Return to preserving kettle with one cup sugar to each quart of pulp Boil thirty minutes and seal at once.
Mrs. Jones says that a delicious ice cream may be made from the mangos by preparing them as for marmalade about half a dozen to a two quart freezer. Use any good ice cream recipe, add mangos and freeze as any fruit ice cream.
For jelly the green fruit is used. Peel and cook the green mangos. Strain. and to each cup of boiling juice, add one cup of sugar. Boil till jelly forms when dropped from a spoon.
Mrs. W. A. Fickle who is a prominent church worker of Miami says that she Prefers the addition of a dash of lime juice and makes hers as follows:
Take about one peck hard apple mangos, cut in small pieces, putting skin, seeds and pulp on to cook with enough water to cover, cooking well. Then strain and to seven cups of juice, add five cups and four tablespoons of lime juice. Cook about forty minutes, or till it jells from the spoon.
Mrs. W. A. Hooks, a pioneer in Southeast Florida, made the most delicious sweet pickles and gives the following explicit directions for their preparations.
Mango Sweet Pickle
Choose nice, firm mangos; pare and slice them. To every quart of fruit, allow a cup of white sugar and a generous pint of good vinegar, adding just enough whole cloves to flavor as you like; too many will turn the fruit dark. Let it come to a boil and put in the mangos and cook till they are thoroughly heated through. Too much cooking will make them mushy, which should be avoided. Put into jars and seal while hot.
Mrs. Florence Hayden who certainly should know the best things to be made from the mangos, with which the name Hayden is forever linked, has kindIy furnished this recipe:
Chutney Number One
Ten large fine mangos, one-half pint seeded raisins, one half pint lime juice, one half pint vinegar, two chili peppers, two garlic buttons grated, one medium sized onion, one tablespoon white Mustard seed, one tablespoon ground ginger. one heaping tablespoonful salt, one and one-half pounds brown Sugar. Pare and cut mangos in small pieces. Put all ingredients in crock or bowl. Let it stand covered over night, and cook slowly next morning for three hours. Put in glass jars or bottles and seat immediately.
Chutney Number Two
Five pounds diced mango, two pounds sugar, two quarts vinegar. Cook till smooth and thick, stirring constantly to prevent burning. When thick enough to drop from spoon, take off from fire. Add two pounds seeded raisins, two ounces ground mustard. two ounces ground ginger, four ounces salt, one quarter-teaspoon ground cayenne pepper. Reheat and pack in small glass jars and seal. Fine with meat or sandwiches.
There is no manner of serving the mango which can add one iota to its delicious flavor, though it may be served in any manner in which the apple or the peach is used. It is a summer fruit, the shipping season being from June to September, though local markets display a few a month preceding and following those dates. No variety rivals the Hayden, though there are several which approach its standard of perfection. There may be a better fruit than the mango but if so the gods guard it jealously, and poor mortals do not miss it so long as they have a sufficient supply of the Hayden mangos, which far outshine the fames apples of the beautiful garden of the Hesperides.
Excerpt from: Greene, Clarissa. “Two Delightful Florida Fruits: The Mango and Papaya.”
Suniland, Nov. 1925, Vol.3, No.2., Pgs. 57-59; 170-174