Mango Jam

Yesterday a truck came by, speakers blaring “mangoes 20 for a dollar”.  So I bought a few bags full. They were very ripe and extremely flavorful and juicy but filled with fiber. Not a good eating mango in my opinion.

This morning I washed them up, read about 8 different recipes for Mango Jam and Jelly and decided my course of action.

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The one recipe called for boiling, steaming or microwaving the entire mango. Because they are so fibrous I decided to try about 8 to see how it worked. Well after boiling for 5 minutes, I turned off the gas and dumped the mangoes into the sink and ran cold water over them until I could handle them. I peeled each mango, scraping the sweet flesh from the peel and squeezed the pulp in a strainer getting all the pulp but none of the fibers. Then squeezed the mango until I had collected all that juice as well. It looked great so I put the balance of the mangoes in my largest pot and started the process one more time.

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I ended up with 10 cups of juicy rich mango purée.

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The recipe is as follows:

Mango Jam

  • 10 C mango purée
  • 1 C water

cook this for 20 minutes in a heavy bottom pot then add:

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  • 1/2 C lime juice (I used limons the green small fruit found here in Ecuador)
  • lime zest from the limes used to make the juice NOT the white pith
  • pips in a cotton bag tied w/cotton string (this along with the juice is suppose to produce the pectin needed to thicken the purée to a jam consistency)

cook for another 5 minutes, remove the pips in the bag and then add:

  • 2 C white sugar
  • 2 C Azucar Moreno (Ecuadorina Brown Sugar NOT Panela the blocks of sugar)

cook this until a candy thermometer reaches 105C or 220F. You will need to stir this often during this part of the process.

Remove from heat and let the mixture cool for a few minutes and skim any foam off the top. Fill clean disinfected jars to the top, seal and let cool.

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Joe is my tester and he says it is good.  You know, “Oh Honey, I’m just not sure. Maybe I better try a little more?” That means it’s good!

Fruit in Season Right Now

We are so fortunate to live in an area that has both the abundance from the sea, with an assortment of fish, shrimp, lobster, clams, squid, octopus and many other seafood choices for a seafood lover to revel in.  And so many choices from the land, meats, vegetables and fruits.

Last week our friends made a trip into Guayaquil and on their way back stopped at a roadside stand selling mangoes, yes big juicy ripe mangoes. They, out of the goodness of their hearts, dropped off a few for our enjoyment. They made another trip earlier this week and dropped off a bag of ripe and another of unripened beauties, along with mangosteens and these cute little ciruelas (not prunes but a variety of plum).  OH MY what great friends to be kind enough to think of us while they are out and about.

Mangosteens are very creamy and have some amazing healing properties, I am currently rubbing the peels on any blemishes, age spots (yes, I do have them) and other imperfections, I will let you know how that works for me…

The ciruelas above are sold in little bags on most of the buses. It has a huge pit and they normally salt them when you buy them or in this case give you a little baggie of salt. Very yummy, I have had them before but they were really unripe these are ripe and sweet and a bit soft, I like them better.

One Vendor at the Mercado

Joe told me the pictures I took for my mercado story last week were a bit weak! He meant you really could not see the fruits or vegetables to get a good idea of what was for sale. When I went to my favorite young folks for my frutilla fix this morning I decided to take several more pictures.

Here’s an enlarged view of the prices in the previous photo.

These young folks are here every day of the week with fresh fruits and veggies. The young man speaks a few words of English and they are both very helpful.

Playas Mercado

One thing we have found in common at all the mercados here in Ecuador is their hard working vendors. Some entire families from Grandma to the infants come to the mercado seven days a week, working long hours just to make a living.  Today I went looking for shrimp $3.50 lb, albacora tuna $3.50 lb, frutilla (strawberries $1.50 lb) and lemons 30 for $1 which are really a small green lime like a key lime.

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Most of the vendors go out of their way to be so helpful, will try to explain about anything that I am not sure about and will even give me cooking advice when I get that totally lost look on my face. If you want a piece of tuna or marlin you can get as little as a pound, they will clean it by removing the skin or bones and if you are looking for the entire fish they will do the same – filleting it or cutting it into steaks. All you need to do is ask. They do give you all the scraps as folks here use them to make broths and soups.  Currently albacora tuna is $3.50 a pound, nice sized shrimp heads-on about 20 to a pound is the same $3.50 a pound. I have purchased pangora (stone crab claws) for $3.50 to $3.75 a pound as well. Because I did not know how to cook stone crab claws the vendor was happy enough to give me basic cooking instructions.  Most days you can find Dorado (dolphin or mahi mahi), corvina (sea bass), albacora (tuna), marlin and swordfish, camarones (different sizes of shrimp), almejas (clams), mejillones (mussels), cangrejo (live crabs or cleaned crab meat) calamar (squid), octopus (pulpo) plus an array of small whole fish that I do not know the names for. You can purchase yucca or plantain or sweet potato chips fresh for a $1 a large bag. Vegetables range from long beans, to several different varieties of fresh beans, lettuce, fresh herbs, the standards like tomatoes, green peppers, red onions, scallions and I have even found shallots on occasion. Fruits run from the Mora (blackberry good only for juice or jams can’t just pop them in your mouth), several varieties of apples some Ecuadorian grown most others from Chile. Peaches, plums, melons, pears, bananas just to name a few. Then you have the mandarinas, sour-sop, pineapple, guanabana, tree tomato, avocados. There are stalls with fresh killed pigs, cows, chickens and goats, Joe said he even saw duck at one stall but I guess I missed that. There is an herb man that sells different ground herbs, fresh peanut butter with no additives like sugar or salt, he also sells liquid mixtures of different herb combinations used in specific dishes this is as close to the US’s bottled herb mixes as I have seen here.

It is an adventure just visiting the stalls and seeing what is available, we even found cigars some that look like they are homemade for .15 cents each to those that actually look like a fancy store bought cigar for .25 cents each…Joe like to light one of these up once in a while.

This mercado sells nail polish, soap, pots and pans, live plants, hot dogs, herbal remedies, ball caps and so much more it would take me a week to list everything. Suffice it to say this is one of the better mercados because of its variety of goods.

Fruits, Fruits and more Fruits

We get most of our fruits and vegetables from the mercado. I do not like my tomatoes or avocados purchased from a cooler because the flavor and texture changes so buying at the mercado pretty much insures that these items are fresh off the farm and not refrigerated. While we were out looking for some home items we came across a man selling juice oranges, mandarin oranges and mangos several blocks past the mercado. It looked to me like he picks the fruit fresh from his own trees and drives to this spot each morning to sell what is seasonal.

This photo above shows just some of the fruits  I keep at hand. The bananas look a bit dark but they will be used to make Banana Bread and the avocado is not for guacamole although we do love it, I make a Bebidas (fruit smoothie) with them. I will give you the recipe below.

The juice oranges were 25 for $1, the mangoes were eight for $1 and the star fruit was free. Yes, seems that my friend Miguel needed some repairs done to his Lada and his mechanic has a star fruit tree that was overflowing with ripe fruit. He let us pick what we wanted. Bananas are .05 cents each or some days 4 for .25 cents depending on the size and the avocado’s run  3 for a $1 most places unless they are really big and then it can be 3 large for $2.  There is a man who sells naranjilla juice a 10 oz cup for .25 cents and another sells tiny hard-boiled quail eggs 5 for .50 cents they are one of Joe’s favorite snacks when he shops with me. He always finds a reason to wander to the front of the mercado for these tiny eggs.

Avocado Fruit Smoothie or Aguacate Bebida

  • 1 Large Ripe ready to eat Avocado
  • 8 oz. water
  • 8 oz. semidescremada milk or 2%
  • 6-8 ice cubes (use less water and more ice cubes if you want it thicker)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Peel and remove the pit of the avocado and put in blender with all other ingredients. Pulse until the ice is broken up and blend for one minute. It will be the consistency of a milk shake. Enjoy!  If you really want to have a treat add a handful of Mora (blackberries) and blend – I normally blend the Mora separately and strain as I do not like the seeds in my drink, then I put the thick juice in an ice-cube tray and freeze. I would add one or two cubes to my avocado bebita for that special flavor.  Makes 4 servings

Out of this world, you will never want any other fruit smoothie once you taste avocado….