The Joys of Florida Fruit

First you pick a Jaboticaba... Bill and I had mango and papaya trees once – fine adult specimens – all lost in a hurricane (along with five Royal Palms). Now that we live on the ocean, those days are past, but the joys of going into one’s backyard and picking something exotic is a most pleasing experience. Here in South Florida unbelievable exotic fruit trees flourish. Besides the aforementioned Jaboticaba – and Florida’s famed citrus trees – there are, to name a few: Jackfruit, Tamarind, Loquat, Lychee (Oh do I love fresh Lychees) Mango, Muscadine Grapes, Papaya, Passion Fruit, Calamondin, and the mighty Avocado.

avocado.jpgLocal avocados are quite large, creamy in texture and I have been told of fewer calories than the California Hass. Since little grows in our salt-sprayed gardens, meeting inland friends with fruit bearing trees was a stroke of luck, and with just a bit of old fashioned obsequious sucking-up, we got on Ray Wakefield and David Millers home made exotic jams and chutney Christmas gift list.

What, I asked; does Ray do with his big beautiful creamy low-in-calories Avocados besides Guacamole lite?

The following recipe was his answer:



First you pick three large ripe avocados
1 small sweet onion chopped
Juice of one lemon
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups Chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Red or Black caviar

Add the avocado, onion and half the lemon juice into a food processor and puree. Place mixture into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the thoroughly defatted chicken stock stirring well. Add cream and the remaining lemon juice and season to taste. Chill and garnish with a bit of cress and caviar.

This soup is clearly quite delicate and could be spiced up with a bit of cayenne pepper or a favorite hot sauce.

As prone as I am to adding fire to nearly everything I eat, it is a nice change to actually deal in subtle tastes – a delicious prelude to Fresh Stone Crabs, Grilled Jumbo Shrimp or Lobster Tails garnished with Ray’s home made Mango Chutney or an unexpected Calamondin Marmalade.



2 cups cider vinegar
5½ cups firmly packed light brown sugar
8 pounds of semi ripe mangoes peeled and cubed
3 cups golden raisins
2/3 cup chopped almonds
½ cup peeled and minced ginger-root
5 five inch dried hot Chile peppers seeded and crumbled very fine
1 large onion finely chopped
2 large orange rinds minced
3 garlic cloves minced
1 teaspoon salt

In a stainless steel kettle bring all the above ingredients to a boil and simmer for 30 – 40 minutes, stirring until thick. Spoon the chutney into sterilized Mason-type jars and seal. Makes about 3 ½ quarts. Best made in the summer when mangoes are plentiful!


(A cross between a Mandarin Orange and a Kumquat, this Southeast Asian fruit with its unique sweet and sour taste, does indeed grow in South Florida, South Texas and Hawaii.) 

2 cups calamondins (including the peel) halved and seeded
1 cup orange juice
3 cups sugar

Coarsely puree the calamondins in a food processor and transfer to a stainless steel or enamel kettle. Combine the orange juice and bring to a boil over moderate heat stirring constantly. Add the sugar and boil for another 15 minutes. Spoon into sterilized glass jars and seal with paraffin. Makes about 5 cups.

Nancy Ellison, award winning photojournalist and celebrity portraitist, has authored fourteen books of photographs, including "Romeo and Juliet: The Love Story in Dance" and "Starlet". Her newest book, "Wagner's Eternal Ring" was published in September 2010 by Rizzoli.