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Miami's mango trade: Swap your excess fruit for bread

 Zak the Baker in Wynwood has bins full of mangos from customers who trade them for bread. "We're just inundated with mangoes because it worked out so much better than we imagined," said Zak Stern, the owner.
Alexa Herrera
/
WLRN
Zak the Baker in Wynwood has bins full of mangos from customers who trade them for bread. "We're just inundated with mangoes because it worked out so much better than we imagined," said Zak Stern, the owner.

It’s mango season, and for people in Miami who have a mango tree, one local bakery is offering an alternative to having a yard full of rotten fruit.

At Zak the Baker in Wynwood, customers can trade in six mangos for a loaf of bread of their choice.

The original plan was just to make jam with the fruit. Now, with at least 20 trades each day, the kitchen staff are getting creative.

Mango cheesecake, sodas and parfait are just some of the dishes they are making to embrace the Miami crop.

“We are swimming in mangos right now,” said Zak Stern, the owner. “It’s way more successful than I imagined.”

On one recent morning — just three hours after opening the bakery — Stern already had a large plastic container next to the register filled to the brim with mangos.

In the fridge in the kitchen, Stern has bins and bins full of mangos ready to be peeled, cut and used. The yogurt parfait was topped with a line of sweet mango chunks down the center of the bowl and crunch granola. Whatever fruit not used is frozen for later.

The mango yogurt parfait is one of the dishes the kitchen staff is making with the fruit exchanged.
Alexa Herrera
/
WLRN
The mango yogurt parfait is one of the dishes the kitchen staff is making with the fruit exchanged.

Aside from creating delicious treats, the goal of this bread-mango exchange was to create a sense of community while embracing the tropical fruit’s season.

“I thought it would be a fun way to connect the consumer and the producer and kind of make it co-producers and feel like you're a part of the process” Stern said.

The rules are that people can only do one trade a day, mangos have to be bigger than a fist, and they can’t be rotten, mushy or bruised. Mango season spans May through August, and Zak the Baker's mango trade will last till the end of June.

Natalie Schultz, 42, tries to give her mangos away every year because she’s the only person in her house that eats them.

“There's such a large amount that comes off of our tree that I would rather give it to them and let them use it on something delicious than rot in my backyard,” she said.

Schultz said her friend forwarded her the post about the exchange because she knew she is a fan of the bakery and that she had a large tree.

Joe Sanchez, 33, also brought in a large plastic bag full of excess mangos from home after hearing about the exchange through social media.

He said it’s great the bakery is taking advantage of the season because so many residents have fruit trees in their backyards.

“It's a great way to not only kind of keep it sustainable and help everybody's garbage, not fill up with fallen mangoes and also kind of create a little community camaraderie,” Sanchez said.

Stern said bread for mangos feels like a fair trade and people have enjoyed this unusual way of doing business.

Another goal of the exchange: highlight Miami’s regional cuisine.

It’s important to build the city’s unique food culture off of the fruits that can’t all be grown in other parts of the country, he said.

“I’d really like to encourage us to support local.” Stern said. “Support local bakers, support local local chefs and craftsmen and celebrate what we do have instead of focusing on all the things that we don't have."

And one thing we have a lot of right now is mangos.

Zak the Baker is located at 295 NW 26th Street, Miami, FL, 33127.

Alexa Herrera, a WLRN newsroom intern, is a third-year journalism student at the University of Florida.
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