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A Plate of Tropical Fruits

I had several ideas for this week’s FoodieTuesday but this photo of a plate of tropical fruits captured my attention. I stared at the fruits for several minutes, remembering the breakfast that it accompanied, the people who shared the table, the laughter, the view and even the activities we did that day. The colors, in particular, reminded me of the sun and warm temperatures.

A Plate of Tropical Fruits

Slices of cantaloupe, pineapple, lime, paw paw (papaya), mango and banana

Cantaloupe: Though not native to Jamaica, local farmers have been experimenting with and growing cantaloupe. But production is relatively small. Only about 2,000 metric tonnes are exported annually.

Pineapple: It’s difficult to tell from the photo what variety of pineapple this was. You can find at least three different types growing in Jamaica – cowboy, sugar loaf and Ripley.

Lime: Almost every Jamaican has a lime tree in their backyard garden. We use limes to make lemonade (limeade), in cooking and baking. We also use the leaves to make tea.

Paw Paw: Paw paw as we call it here is the reddish orange fruit on the plate. It is probably native to the West Indies. The fruit that is popular now is smaller than the variety I remember (the one I didn’t like as a child). According to the University of the West Indies website, there are 45 species of papaya and the “trees” reach fruit bearing age after only a year. The “Solo” type, with pink flesh was introduced to Hawaii from Barbados and Jamaica in 1911.

Jamaica exports the “sunrise” variety which has a deep red flesh. We started exporting in the 1980s, with more than half of the fruit going to the US. A smaller percentage also made it to markets in the UK, Canada and Holland.

Mango: It’s difficult to say which type of mango this one is, since we have at least 21 different varieties. From the size, I’d guess that it’s either a Julie or Bombay.

Banana: I can say for sure this was not a honey banana, but beyond that I can’t say which type this was as we have several varieties in Jamaica.

Which tropical fruit is your favorite?

 

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It’s Mango Season in Jamaica

Jamaicans have a passion for mango and during mango season, everyone gets to indulge, sometimes eating enough of the fruit to replace a meal.

Mangoes are so loved here, there’s even a folk song, called appropriately, Mango Time, that celebrates the delicious fruit, and up to a few years ago, there was a mango festival in the parish of Westmoreland.

Mango season starts around April or May and ends about July, though there is at least one variety, the Tommy Atkins, which comes in around September or October.

Blossoming Mango tree, Jamaica

Blossoming Mango tree

If you’re a mango lover and are planning to visit Jamaica in the next few months, you’ll be in mango heaven. Trees are laden with mangoes; they’ll be on sale at almost every roadside stall, and included in the breakfast buffet at your hotel. In the height of the season, the aroma of the ripened fruit will hang in the air.

Mangoes on a tree

Mango tree

Mangoes are native to South Asia, where they have been grown for more than 6,000 years. They were introduced to Jamaica in the 1700s after several varieties were discovered on a French ship that was destined for Hispaniola. The ship was captured at sea by Lord Rodney and the mangoes brought to the island.

Ripe Julie and Graham mangoes

Julie and Graham mangoes

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