How to make mango leather
The hot season is also the mango fruit season. What do you do if you have too many fruits? Traditionally Thai farmers would make mango rolls or ‘mango leather’.
Pick mango fruits from the tree. Put them on a table in the shade for a few days to allow them to ripen, i.e. to develop a full aroma and sweetness. This variety is ‘Nam Dokmai’, organically grown at Dokmai Garden in Chiang Mai.
Peel the ripe mangos, slice them, discard the large seeds and heat the pulp in a vessel for 2-3 hours to reduce the amount of water. Let it cool down. Squeeze the pulp with your hands until it turns into a jam, and then smear it out on a wax cloth, tray or old rice bag as in this picture. Put the cloth in the sun for 2-3 days to allow it to dry. A satellite dish is handy, also useful for drying chili, banana, squid and meat.
Nothing has been added to this product, this is plain dried fruit pulp. Such rolls, called ‘mamuang keng’ or ‘mamuang goan’ where also a way for farmers to make money. However, small-scale production at home is quite uncommon today. Mango rolls or ‘mango leather’ can be stored a long time, while the fresh fruit decays quickly. When food is available one has to preserve as much as possible. In communities without irrigation, such as in the arid Esan (Northeast of Thailand) there is not many other fresh greens available in April.
Precipitation report (corrected): Only one occasion of rain in April: 3 mm on April 25th. In March we received 13 mm of rain (8 mm on the 3rd and 5 mm on the 4th of March). In February we received 20 mm (21 Feb. 8 mm, 17 Feb. 7 mm, 2 Feb. 5 mm). In January we received 9 mm (3 mm on Jan. 31st and 6 mm on Jan. 29th). During the past 18 month period, we have been forced to irrigate at least once each month except in September 2012. The current drought March-April 2013 is normal. Yesterday’s maximum temperature was 37.4°C. The Climate Prediction Centre still forecasts a neutral (normal) year.
Text & Photo: Eric Danell