Often called the “King of Fruit,” Mangos are as good for us as they are delicious to eat. It’s yellow-orange, aromatic flesh has a wonderfully unique sweet flavor and luscious texture. Rich in vitamins A and C, mangos are a great source of fiber, are low in calories and they contain an enzyme that has stomach soothing properties. So, next time you are feeling a little indigestion or heartburn after a big meal, try reaching for a mango instead of the pepto bismol. A very versatile performer in the kitchen — they can be eaten fresh, used in drinks, soups, sauces, salads, savory entrees, ice cream, preserves and desserts. Some people love to eat mangos out of hand like an apple, but I recommend you peel them first, as the skin contains a small amount of the same toxin that is in poison ivy and some people have an allergic reaction to it.
Mangos are believed to have originated in India. Portuguese explorers brought it to Brazil and the West Indies. It was introduced in Florida and California in the 1800s. Mango trees are beautiful, tall tropical trees that can reach 50-80 feet in height. In India, mango trees are revered as a symbol of love and some believers say the mango tree can grant wishes. Today, there are more than a thousand varieties, but most produce fruit that has green, red, or yellow skin and ranges in size from 3” to 10” long.
PURCHASING & PREPARING MANGOS:
Select mangos that are soft to the touch, but not mushy. The flesh should be firm not hard, and yield to the touch when gentle pressure is applied to the skin. Because mangos are generally picked green, they may still be hard when they reach your local supermarket’s produce section, but they will ripen once you get them home. To hasten ripening, store mangos in a closed paper bag on the counter. Once ripe, you can refrigerate them for a few days to maintain them until you’re ready to use them.
Separating the mango’s delicious pulp from its pit can be a bit of a challenge — I liken it to filleting a fish. First, wash the skin to remove any dirt and pesticide residue, then peel the mango. Mangos peel easily, but the fruit is slick when the peel is removed, so be careful. The mango’s pit is long and flat and runs almost the entire length of the fruit from stem to base. Lay the peeled mango flat on your cutting board, insert your knife about a third of the way down into the side of the fruit and remove the entire slice feeling along the top of the pit with your knife. Then turn the mango over and repeat the process on the other side of the pit. Finally, trim the remaining fruit from the sides and edges of the pit.