If there were ever an excuse for excess, it could be the mango. Juicy, sweet and succulent, the mango is often called “the king of fruit.”
Mangos originated in India over 4,000 years ago. Legend holds that the Buddha found tranquility in a mango grove, and the tree is considered sacred in its native land. Today, the fruit is grown in every country that falls within the temperate latitudes, in over 2,500 varieties and a range of shapes and colors. Mangos are the most widely eaten fruit in the world and are an important staple in tropical climates. Here in the US, only California and Florida are warm enough year-round for commercial cultivation.
Mangos can be divided into two broad categories distinguished by their shapes: Indian and Philippine (also called Indochinese). Indian mangos are round or oval-shaped, with brightly colored skins. Philippine mangos are pale green and kidney-shaped. Unfortunately, in US markets mangos are rarely identified by variety.
Although mangos are heavenly on their own, their flowery fragrance and butter-soft flesh is also wonderful in salsas, jams, chutneys, salads, cakes, breads, mousses, cocktails, sauces and ice creams. When it comes to mangos, at least, gluttony might be excusable.
Why choose organic?
- Choose organic whenever you can to help keep the residues of conventional agricultural pesticides and fertilizers out of your food. Organic produce is grown without toxic synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, using sustainable farming methods that protect the environment and help keep pesticides out of our soil, air, water and food supply. Organic food is the healthiest choice for people and the planet — and we think it tastes better, too!
How to select and store mangos
- All mangos are green when unripe — but some stay green even when they’re ripe, and others turn yellow, gold or bright red, so color isn’t necessarily an indication of ripeness.
- Look for fruit with an intense floral fragrance, heavy for its size, with firm, unblemished skin. When ripe, the plump flesh at the stem end will yield slightly to gentle pressure.
- Avoid fruit with loose, shriveled skin or off odors; that fruit is past its prime.
- If your mangos aren’t ripe yet, leave them at cool room temperature for a few days, or place them in a paper bag to speed ripening. Once ripened, enjoy your mangos immediately or refrigerate them for a day or two — otherwise, they’ll ferment and spoil rapidly due to their high sugar content.
Tips for using mangos
Eating a mango can be a messy business, and it’s best done standing over a sink if you’re in a hurry! Fortunately, there’s an easy and attractive way to prepare this fruit.
- Mangos have a large, flat central seed that clings to the flesh. The seed is as long as the fruit itself and about an inch thick. Stand the mango on one of its ends. With a sharp knife cut from the top down, keeping the knife blade parallel to and as close to one side of the seed as possible to release the mango “cheek” (in chef-speak). Repeat on the other side of the seed. (Any flesh that remains on the seed is for the cook’s pleasure!)
- With a small paring knife, score the flesh of each cheek in parallel cuts, then cut crosswise to make small squares, taking care not to cut through the skin. Push against the outside of the mango skin to flip the fruit inside-out, allowing the flesh to pop up in neat cubes of fruit just begging to be eaten.
- To release the flesh for use in recipes (or for more decorous eating), carefully undercut the squares with a small knife.