General Description: The mango (Mangifera indica) is a flattened to oblong fruit with colorful skin and sweet, orange-red flesh. The mango originated in Southeast Asia, where it has been grown for over 4,000 years. Today India produces an estimated two-thirds of the world’s mangoes. More than a thousand mango species fall into two branches: the Indian, with regularly shaped, brightly colored fruit, and the Philippine, with pale green, kidney-shaped fruit.
The smallest mangoes are the size of an egg; the largest can weigh up to 5 pounds (2.2 kg). Each mango has a single flat seed, surrounded by flesh that is either yellow or orange. Mangoes can be oval, round, heart-shaped, kidney-shaped, or long and slender. The colors of ripe mango range from red to yellow-red, yellow-orange, yellow-green, or deep green.
Season: Mangoes are available most of the year, as different varieties are in season at different times.
Purchase: Choose mangoes that are heavy for their size with firm, unblemished skin. Check the area around the stem—if it looks plump and round, the mango is ripe. With the stem end up, smell the mango. A ripe mango will have a sweet aroma and be slightly soft to the touch.
Avoid: Because of their high sugar content, mangoes will ferment naturally. Avoid mangoes with a sour or alcohol smell. Avoid stringy-looking, shriveled, or spotted mangoes. A few brown speckles are normal.
Storage: Most mangoes are hard when you buy them and must be fully ripened before eating. Leave at cool room temperature till the flesh is yielding, but not mushy. Most varieties will turn yellow as they ripen, though red mangoes will not become redder after harvest.
Refrigerate when ripe for up to 4 days. Green mangoes may be stored at room temperature but should be used within a few days.
- The mango has one large tongue-shaped pit in its center. The pit parallels the shape. Slice off the top and bottom of the mango.
- Stand the mango up: The tip of the pit will now be exposed. Cut off the mango flesh parallel to the pit, curving slightly with the shape of the pit. Repeat on the other side.
- Turn the half peel side down and cut crisscross slices through the flesh, stopping at the skin. Turn the mango out until the center pops up—the cubes will stick out and can be removed with a fork. Or, slice the flesh into pieces.
Serving Suggestions: Purée mango with lime juice, ice, and rum in a blender to make a daiquiri. Assemble sliced mango and avocado and dress with lime juice for a composed salad. Combine diced mango, red pepper, and red onion, chopped cilantro and mint, lime juice, and minced serrano chiles to make mango salsa.
Flavor Affinities: Apricot, avocado, chicken, chiles, cilantro, cucumber, fish, jicama, lime juice, orange, passion fruit, pineapple, rum, seafood, star fruit, sweet bell pepper, tangerine.
from Quirk Books: www.quirkbooks.com