Mangos are said to be the most popular fruit in the world. Once you have tried a really good mango you will know why. They have a delicious aroma and tangy, but sweet flavor like no other fruit. To get a truly great mango, you need to pick it ripe off a tree. Unfortunately, if you live in the United States, mangoes require tropical weather that is only found in parts of California, Texas, Florida and of course all of Hawaii. Fortunately, mangos are routinely imported to the U.S. Although the imports don't come close to tree-ripened fruit, they are still worthy of praise.
Nutritionally rich mangos
Mangos are vitamin and mineral-rich, providing high levels of Vitamin A, B-6, C, E and potassium. Mangos are good source of fiber, antioxidants and flavonoids. Amazingly, mangos are touted to protect against cancer, lower cholesterol, improve digestion, promote good eyesight, normalize insulin levels, boost the immune system, clear your skin and even improve sex!
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Types of mangos and their seasons
There are six kinds of commercial mangos you are likely to see in the U.S. The most common are the thick-skinned, large seed, try-colored (red, yellow and green) mangos that are imported from Mexico and various latin American countries. These varieties are well suited for shipping and include: Tommy Atkins, Hayden. In recent years, the more delicate, thin-skinned , Ataulfo or Manilla mangos have made their way to U.S. markets. These are smaller, flatter, slightly S-shaped, gold-colored mangos with a small seed, bright flavor and creamy texture. The California Keitt mango has become my personal favorite. These enormous flavorful mangos have small seeds, are ripe when they are green, and are only available in September and October.
The great thing about mangos is the different varieties have different growing seasons, thus it is possible to get reasonably good mangos most of the year.
Ripening and storing mangos
Color is not always a good indicator of whether or not a mango is ripe. The best way to tell is to gently squeeze it. A ripe mango will give under pressure, much like a ripe avocado or peach. A ripe mango will also give off a delicious aroma. Do not store unripened mangos in the fridge. Leave them at room temperature, until they are ready to eat. Try to eat them when ripe, but if you need a few extra days, put them in the fridge and it will slow down their ripening. If you need to speed up their ripening, store them in a brown paper bag.
Some people are allergic to mango sap. Most people can eat mango if they avoid the sap, by not touching mango skin or climbing mango trees. After handling mango it is advisable to wash your hands (and face if you have dug into a ripe mango with your teeth as we used to do when I was a kid in Hawaii.)
How to cut a mango
I use two different methods to cut mangos. Either way, it is important to figure out the orientation of the flat seed. This is easier for flat Manilla mangos, but a little trickier for some of the rounder Hayden and Tommy Atkins mangos. Start by standing the mango up and viewing the mango from it's stem. The wide flat seed lies along the widest part of the mango. Whatever method you use, your goal is to cut closely along the seed, to remove the most mango possible.
Method 1: Inverted cross-hatched method
This method is great for presenting on a fruit platter or for dicing into cubes.
Identify the direction of the seed and slice the mango along the seed from the top to the bottom. You will slice about 1/3 to 1/2 " from the center of the mango. Repeat on the other side.
You now have two mango "cups." Next, make cross-hatched slices through the fruit cutting just to, but not through the skin of each mango cup.
Holding the cup with your hands, push into the skin from the bottom of the cup, inverting the mango into a checkerboard of mango cubes. You can serve the mango like this. Or slice off the cubes close to the skin.
Don't waste the meat that remains around the seed. Use a paring knife to remove the skin and slice the remaining fruit away from the skin.
Method 2: Peel and slice
Use a vegetable peeler or paring knife and remove the skin. I like using the vegetable peeler because it does not remove a lot of fruit with the skin. A good mango is like gold. You don't want to waste any of it.
Find the direction of the seed and slice top to bottom making two skinless mango cups.
Lay the cup down with the widest side flat on cutting surface. Slice the cup in thin slices.
Finally cut away fruit that remains on seed, and slice or cube.
Cook's treat is to nibble on whatever is left on the mango seed.
Mangos add flavor pizazz
Don't just eat mangos by themseleves. Mango adds phenomenal flavor to a variety of dishes. Try Puamana coconut rice with diced mango.