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Picturing a World

Sweet mango pickle

In a family letter dated November 29th, 1887, I found this recipe for "Sweet Mangoes." What fun, thought I, mangoes! Who knew they would be familiar in 19th C Farmville, Virginia? The more I read, however, the more puzzling it became. Three gallons of mangoes? And cabbage? At this point I did the obvious: I Googled. It didn't take long to learn that a mango is "a green pepper stuffed with cabbage and mixed, minced picket, highly spiced and whole pickled together." Now if someone can just tell me what a picket is …


For the regional distribution and more information on the word, click here.
And in case you want to try out a taste of 19th C America, here's a transcription (I have not attempted to adjust to modern measurements or smaller amounts because I think it sounds ghastly):


Sweet Mangoes
Scald your mangoes (after they have been cured in brine properly) in weak vinegar, six successive times.
To a 3 gallon jar of mangoes put
1 tea cup of black pepper
1 tea cup allspice
1-1/2 oz. of ginger
1-1/2 oz. of ginger
1/2 oz of mace
Beat all, but not fine. Take one head of raw cabbage and 8 onions chopped fine. 2 tea cups of scraped horse radish. 1 qt. mustard seed.
Take half the beaten spice and mix with the other ingredients. 3 cups of brown sugar, besides putting one teaspoonful in each mango before you put in the stuffing (It takes 5 lbs. of sugar to a 3 gal. jar). The rest of the sugar mix with remaining spice and vinegar enough to cook the pickle.

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