Home Food + Drinks Mango Season in Merritt Island: Exploring the Tropical Fruit Paradise

Mango Season in Merritt Island: Exploring the Tropical Fruit Paradise

by 321 Happy Hour

Mango season in Merritt Island, Florida, is a delightful time when lush mango orchards take center stage, replacing citrus as the signature fruit along the Space Coast.

Farmers, who lovingly tend to these trees, understand the importance of their labor, knowing that Mother Nature’s whims can either bring abundant harvests or devastating losses. Amidst challenges like cold snaps and heavy rains, they work year-round, pruning, protecting against pests, and preserving their legacy for future generations. Merritt Island’s unique micro-climate, particularly along South Tropical Trail between the Indiana and Banana rivers, plays a crucial role in fostering an ideal environment for growing mangoes. Let’s dive deeper into this tropical fruit paradise and explore the secrets behind its success.

1. The Micro-climate of Merritt Island: A Blessing for Mangoes

Merritt Island owes its reputation as a prime mango-growing region to its distinctive combination of coquina and sand. Some argue that this unique mix contributes to the island’s thriving mango orchards. However, Sally Scalera, the urban horticulture agent and master gardener coordinator for the UF/IFAS Extension Brevard County, believes that the micro-climate along the rivers is the real key to success.

The presence of the Indian River and the Banana River acts as natural buffers, shielding mid- to south Merritt Island from extreme temperature fluctuations. This natural protection keeps the mango fields several degrees warmer compared to other parts of the county, where mainland areas often experience colder temperatures. With this natural advantage, Merritt Island has become a mango haven that attracts mango enthusiasts from far and wide, even drawing visitors from as far as Orlando.

2. The Quest for the Perfectly Ripe Mango

With an array of mango varieties ripening to different colors—pink, green, orange, yellow, and red—determining a mango’s ripeness might seem like a challenge. However, some simple techniques can help you identify the perfect mango.

One reliable method is to observe the top of the fruit. When it fills out and starts bulging around the stem, the mango is ready for picking. Additionally, a quick check of the stem’s sap can provide valuable insights. Clear sap indicates that the fruit needs more time to ripen, while milky or Elmer’s Glue-colored sap indicates that the mango is ripe and ready to enjoy.

A word of caution: Mango sap can cause allergic reactions in some people, leading to rashes. It’s best to handle mangoes with care and avoid direct contact with the sap.

3. Exploring Merritt Island’s Mango Farms

Merritt Island’s mango season offers visitors the chance to immerse themselves in the charm of an actual mango farm. One of the renowned farms is Nick’s Island Tropical Fruit, known for its bountiful variety of mangoes. For more information, visit their website at islandtropicalfruit.com.

Another must-visit location is Ensey Tropical Fruit Company, operated by Angie Marshall. Here, you’ll discover over a dozen varieties of mangoes created on Merritt Island and thoughtfully named after members of her family. It’s an opportunity to experience the love and passion that goes into cultivating these exquisite fruits.

4. Mango Delights: From Dehydrators to Ice Cream

Mangoes aren’t just meant to be eaten fresh; they can be transformed into delightful treats as well. If you have a dehydrator, consider preserving the mango goodness by making dried mango slices. Alternatively, indulge in the creamy sweetness of homemade mango ice cream, a perfect way to savor the tropical flavors all year round.

Merritt Island’s mango season is a time of celebration, as the island’s micro-climate and dedicated farmers come together to produce some of the finest mangoes in the region. Visitors from near and far can experience the joy of picking ripe mangoes straight from the tree, savoring the sweetness, and perhaps taking some home to relish in various forms. Whether you’re a mango enthusiast or a curious traveler, Merritt Island’s mango season promises an unforgettable experience that celebrates the “King of Fruits” in all its glory.

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