Meet the 28-year-old taking care of the best mangoes in town

It’s mango season in South Florida and Hatcher mangoes are ready!

Hatcher Mango Hill in Lantana is known for its mangoes. In fact, the website boasts that they’re “the best on earth,” and lucky for all of us in South Florida, they’re officially on sale at the farm. Now, these aren’t just any, run-of-the-mill mangoes. Hatcher mangoes are special and huge and juicy — with no strings attached. 

And these babies don’t bear without some serious tlc. We get to enjoy Hatcher mangoes every summer because a 28-year-old guy who, drenched in sweat and bitten by mosquitos daily, makes sure of it. 

Kyle Zeitler, 28 of Lake Worth, is a fourth generation descendant of John Hatcher, his great-grandfather who created Hatcher mangoes by breeding different mango species in the 1940s. 

“During season [late spring to early summer], I’m here everyday looking up and trying to pick out the mangoes that are perfectly ripe, before they hit the ground,” he said during an interview at the farm this June.

He helps pick the mangoes straight from the trees using a 25-foot pole before they hit the ground and get bruised. He also freezes for those who want to buy them after the season, and he makes sure the farm is completely clean from fallen fruit that would attract insects. 

This is a t-shirt soaking, mosquito-battling, shoulder-burning job, which Zeitler proudly does to keep the family tradition alive for next generation.

Watch Kyle do his thing in the video below:

Mangoes are definitely a perk of living in Florida — we don’t have to travel for what’s in our backyard. And some of the best and biggest in the county are right here in Palm Beach County

The Hatcher Mango Hill farm in Lantana opened for the season on Friday, June 1 at noon, which means the mangoes are ready, and you should definitely go on your lunch break today. These aren’t your regular mangoes and they will sell out. These mangoes are so famous that people from all over the country have stopped here to buy them — just ask the farm owner Marilynn Hatcher.

If you haven’t heard of Hatcher Mango Hill, you don’t really like mangoes. But you will after having one. This farm is the real deal. The Hatcher family has had this farm since the 1940s, and they’ve proudly kept up the quality and the tradition. 

Their specialty mango? The Hatcher Mangoes, which the late John Hatcher, a Lake Worth farmer, created when he crossed two or three — or even four — kinds of mangoes at his nursery, said his daughter-in-law, Marilynn Hatcher. But they also sell the popular Haden and Zill mangoes. 

The goal is to create a delicious, rich fruit with more meat and a smaller seed. 

Once you drive up the hill, (yes, an actual hill in Lantana next to I-95), you’ll see the stand, filled with pieces of mango. But there are two things you should know before you buy: “Picks” and “drops.”

» While you’re there: 8 colorful and inspiring ways to daycation in Lake Worth

As if quality flavor wasn’t enough, this family lets you know which mangoes they carefully picked from the tree and which ones dropped on their own. To the family, this means being honest with the customer and selling nothing but the best.

“Sometimes the storms make them fall before they’re perfect, so I have to rush to get them from the ground. We can sell these for a cheaper price as “drops” because they can be just as good. But if they get bruised, we don’t sell them to our customers — ever,” said Zeilter.

Also, after every storm, which seems to be everyday this spring, green mangoes will drop, and the family sells those too. I know, most people in America think of mangoes as a juicy and sweet, orange fruit. But trust me, in the Caribbean we also eat green mangoes, and they’re are delicious. Just slice them up, add some lime juice, sprinkle some salt and enjoy — they’re more refreshing than a cucumber. You can also get creative and add some Lawry’s seasoning — or like my Hispanic self does, add Adobo. Enjoy!

Mango magic: an easy-to-make mango bread with island vibes

Once you’ve chosen your mangoes, ask about recipes, treats or anything else you want to know. These people are mango experts. There’s a recipe book too. It has everything from mango jam and homemade mango ice cream to mango cooking sauces and mango bread. You can also buy the treats in the recipe book on location, as their close friend Sue Fogle is a mango baker.

Hatcher Mango Hill: 1908 Hypoluxo Rd, Lantana;  From I-95, head west on Hypoluxo Road to High Ridge Road. Make a U-turn. The farm is on the right just past the gas station. 561- 588-6098

Open hours: Monday through Saturday: 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.; Sundays: 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. 

A shorter version of this story first published on June 1, 2018 at 10:20 a.m. — opening day of the Hatcher mango stand.

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