The Mighty Mango
Mangoes are a quintessential tropical fruit, and are one of the most commonly eaten fruits worldwide. They were first grown in India more than 5,000 years ago, and in fact, a basket of mangoes can still be considered a sign of friendship in that region. Juicy, sweet and vibrant, mangoes lend a balanced texture and rich flavor to dishes, and are versatile enough to use in fresh recipes all year-round.
How theyâ€™re grown:
- Mangoes grow on evergreen trees with dense foliage. Regular pruning helps to control their size, as the trees can grow to be over 100â€™ tall.
- Mangoes grow best in tropical climates where the warm, humid air defends them against frost.
- Mango farms often harvest their crops at several staggered times throughout the year. These overlapping growing seasons ensure a steady year-round supply.
- Did you know there are six types of mango? These include the Adaulfo, Haden, Francis, Kent, Keitt and Tommy Atkins varieties. Each variety has a different month of peak availability, and subtle differences in texture and flavor.
How to shop for them:
- Color is not a good sign of ripeness for mangoes. Always check for firmness to know if the fruit is ripe. Give the mango a gentle squeeze; it should yield a little bit to pressure.
- Ripe mangoes tend to have a fruity aroma near their stem.
How to store them:
- Keep unripe mangoes at room temperature. They will continue to ripen and become sweeter over time. Never refrigerate an unripe mango!
- Once a mango has reached the perfect level of ripeness, place it in the fridge. This will "pause" the ripening process.
- Once mangoes are peeled or cut, they can be placed in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days. If frozen, they will keep for up to six months.
How to prepare them:
- Mangoes have a large, flat pit that runs through the center of the fruit. The edible portions are termed â€ścheeks.â€ť
- Start by cutting a small slice from the bottom of the mango to provide a flat surface to work with. Next, peel the mango and set it on your cutting board. Make sure that the wider sides of the fruit are facing out to the side. Now, you can cut the cheeks from the sides of the mango. The center pit will be left standing on the cutting board!
How to eat them:
- Add diced mango to a fruity pasta salad. Try combining it with blueberries, raspberries, spinach, feta cheese and raspberry vinaigrette.
- You can combine diced mango with red onion, cucumber and fresh cilantro for a delicious salsa combo. Serve with grilled shrimp or chicken for added flavor!
- Make coconut mango overnight oatmeal. Simply combine Â˝ cup oats, Â˝ cup milk (any kind), Â˝ cup diced mango, 1 tablespoon shredded coconut and 1 teaspoon honey in a mason jar. Store in the refrigerator overnight, then simply stir and eat the next morning!
- Rather than a creme brulee, try mango brulee. Simply sprinkle two mango cheeks with sugar, ginger and cinnamon. Then, caramelize under the broiler or using a kitchen torch. Itâ€™s fancy, easy and more nutritious than traditional creme brulee, not to mention dairy-free!
- Mango and fresh basil pair well together. Toss together grilled chicken slices, cooked quinoa, diced fresh basil and cubed mango. Sprinkle with balsamic vinegar for a quick dinner.
- The next time you make fish tacos, add diced mango for tropical flavor and a spot of color.
- Include mangoes in your next meat marinade, as they help tenderize meat.
- Fresh mangoes are naturally fat-free, gluten-free, sodium-free and contain no cholesterol.
- One cup of diced mango contains only 100 calories. It also provides 100% of the daily recommended value of vitamin C, and 35% of the daily value of vitamin A.
- Mangoes are a good source of fiber, copper and vitamin B6.