While having a mango tree in your yard is a wonderful thing, there's one problem: It seems as though every mango on the tree decides to drop at once, leaving the tree owner looking for homes for all the extra mangos after the squirrels get their fair share.
Miamians usually handle their all-at-once mango situation by enjoying fresh mangos, mango juice, and mango bread. Then, they'll cut up a bunch of mangos to freeze for smoothies. Finally — with dozens of mangos left — they'll ask every neighbor they know to take some mangos off their hands before the iguanas have a feast.
Zak Stern of Zak the Baker has the answer to your mango overage problem: a mango exchange program at his Wynwood bakery.
From now until the end of June, bring a bag of six mangos to the bakery and trade them for a loaf of bread.
Stern says the program started as a silly idea among the staff but quickly solidified into a plan. "I grew up in Miami and realized everyone has a Publix bag full of mangos, and at some point, it becomes a burden. So why not preserve the harvest?"
Stern says the bakery will take the mangos, clean them, process them, preserve them, and use them throughout the year. "Instead of strawberry jam, we'll have a local jam."
Of course, according to Stern, there are some rules to the mango exchange: "Bring us six mangos, and we'll trade you for a loaf of bread. But we'll only do one trade per person daily, so please don't bring in 50 pounds of mangoes at a time." Mangos must be at least the size of a closed adult fist and can't be crushed, mushy, or damaged. "Please don't bring in mangos that have been bitten by a raccoon — which is something that happens in my own backyard," says Stern.
If you do happen to have an acre of mango trees producing bushels of fruit, Stern is willing to make a deal (but DM the bakery on Instagram instead of filling your pickup truck bed, please). Oh, and if anyone has lychees to trade, Stern would like to hear from you.
So far, Stern says people have already been bringing in mangos, and they're being used in mango jam and cheesecake. Stern says he loves working with the tropical fruits that grow so well in Florida, like mamey, lychee, guava, and (of course) mango. Zak the Baker is currently offering lychee soda made with lychees from Tiny Farm and mamey tres leches, in addition to the mango offerings.
Stern says these flavors help give Miami its culinary identity. "I think Miami has an interesting potential for regional cuisine. I mean, people love food from Italy — but can Italy grow guava?"