we've been in monsoon season for the past few months which means lots of wind, lots of rain, and the end of the current fruit crops (boo). we had a couple of weeks of tropical storm-strength wind earlier, which was bad for most of the crops, but with all the unripe, green mangoes that fell, i had the perfect opportunity to make one of my favourite snacks/condiments, pickled mango. unripe mangoes (as you can imagine) are sour, acidic things, but pickling mellows the acidity and well, sour is what you want in a pickle anyway. there is a discernible mango taste, but if you've never had a green mango, i'm not sure i can describe it to you (anyone want to take a stab at it?).
generally on island mango pickles are pretty basic: large spears of green mango are marinated in a white vinegar and water mixture, along with some boonie peppers/thai bird chilis, or a generous dose of chili pepper of choice. i like my pickled mangoes to be sour-sweet, so i add sugar, and try to play around with the spices and types of vinegar so it's not just solid heat and pucker. the ones above were made with apple cider vinegar boiled with sugar and salt, a random assortment of chilis and whatever was in the spice pantry--bay leaves, fennel seeds, star anise, cinnamon sticks. three days in the fridge seems to be enough to get a good saturation, yet keep the mangoes firm and crunchy. like any good pickle, i reckon.
if the ones above are 'good' pickles, then maybe koolickles qualify as 'evil' pickles. i read about them for the first time at the beginning of summer (cathy also posted about them), and i have to say i was both repulsed and attracted. 'koolickles' are dill pickles that are partially marinated in a sweetened drink product, and take on an unearthly reddish sheen, along with a pronounced artificially and naturally flavoured fruit-like flavour. mmmmm. boy howdy! where do i sign up? actually, i, like cathy, wasn't sure if i would actually like them, but i suspect our reasons are different--i just don't like cucumber pickles. however, i do like a number of other fruit-based pickles like ones made with watermelon rind, green papaya, and (of course) mango. so, it stood to reason that other pickled fruit besides cucumbers would probably be a better vehicle for the soft drink mix. colourwise, it is already similar to a type of hawaiian pickled mango, and flavourwise, well...we'd just have to see.
'struth, so help me, these mango koolickles were awesome. much like artificial sweeteners in li hing mui/preserved plums amplify the flavour of the preserved fruit, the soft drink mix's artificiality amplified all the natural flavour of the pickle--the sourness and fruitiness were sharper, the sweetness tempered nicely by the citrus edge. the mango itself still tasted like mango, but a little like pineapple too, and slightly candied to boot. it reminded me so much of a type of hawaiian crack seed product, that i decided to add some li hing mui powder for a bit more savoury flavour.
honestly, how this isn't a staple here on guam or in hawaii already, i don't know. it has all the familiar components: mango, pickle, bright artificial dye, fruit punch (yes, red fruit punch is actually popular in hawaii. and guam.)--in fact, these pickles could easily be made with the red fruit punch syrup that is a staple here, instead of the powdered drink mix for a more "authentic" feel. (ha!)
i might get you to try this, but i'm sure this might be a hard sell to some: pour a generous slug of the koolickle juice into a glass of ice, top with some fizzy mineral water or club soda, and you'll have quite a refreshing, piquant soda. or maybe a more appealing sell: instead of carbonated soda, how 'bout vodka? maybe you'll forget what you are drinking and enjoy it :)
4 cups/1 qt. of green mangoes, peeled, de-pitted, and cut into spears (note: you'll want unripe ones, not immature ones, which will be too acidic)
1 pint vinegar (i use apple cider vinegar for something more piquant, rice wine vinegar when i want it mellow)
1-1 1/2 cup sugar (white or brown, your choice)
1/4 cup of kosher salt (you can omit the salt if you want, and use less sugar)
*optional spices, to taste:
fresh chili peppers (i use green arbol or serranos)
slices of fresh ginger
whole star anise
pack mangoes into clean, widemouth jars. tuck a couple of chili peppers in with the mangoes. set aside. mix vinegar, sugar, salt and any spices you'd like to use in a saucepan; bring to a boil. stir constantly, until all the sugar and salt has dissolved, and the mixture becomes a bit syrupy. pour evenly over mangoes (if they are divided between jars, put equal amounts of syrup in each jar). fill the jars with enough water to just cover the mangoes. seal tightly, shake to mix, then refrigerate for several days, turning bottles intermittently. three days seems to be fine, but can take up to a week. keeps for an indeterminate length of time.
2 cups/1 pint of green mangoes, peeled, de-pitted, and cut into spears (you can also use partially ripe or ripe but sour mangoes)
1 packet unsweetened kool-aid® drink mix, preferrably red--tropical punch, cherry, strawberry and 1 cup white sugar
1 cup hawaiian punch concentrated syrup or generic fruit punch syrup
1 cup rice wine vinegar
1 cup water
*optional li hing mui powder, to taste
pack mangoes into clean, widemouth jars. mix drink mix and sugar (or fruit punch syrup), vinegar and water until completely mixed and dissolved. add li hing mui powder, stir. pour mixture over mangoes, add extra water if needed to completely cover fruit, shake to mix. seal tightly, and refrigerate for several days, turning bottles intermittently. when mangoes turn a radioactive red, they are most likely ready to serve.