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Mangoes

Why Eat It
Varieties
Availability
Shopping
Storage
Preparation
Nutrition Chart


Why Eat It

The mango, still considered an exotic fruit by many, is a splendid source of beta-carotene, as its vivid orange flesh would suggest. It also supplies plenty of vitamin C, some vitamin B6, and even some vitamin E.

Mangoes originated in Southeast Asia or India, and India is still the primary producer (it grows more mangoes than all other fruits combined). Latin American countries and the Caribbean islands are also avid consumers of this luscious fruit. When ripe, the flesh is soft and exceptionally juicy, to the point where eating a mango can be a fairly messy business. But the taste is matchless--somewhat like a mix of peach and pineapple, only sweeter than either.

Use mangoes in sweet and savory salads, salsas, chutneys, or desserts.

Varieties

Mangoes come in hundreds of varieties, from plum-sized fruits to those weighing four pounds or more. The varieties grown commercially, however, are round, oval, or kidney-shaped, and are usually about the size of a small melon or large avocado. Much of the U.S. supply is imported from Mexico, Central America, and Haiti; about 10% of the commercial crop is grown in Florida.

Tommy Atkins: The most common variety, Tommy Atkins is an oval-shaped fruit that is more fibrous and has a blander taste than other readily available mangoes.

B>Francine: The Francine, from Haiti, is a completely green S-shaped mango that is available late in the season. The name of this mango follows a Caribbean tradition of naming mango varieties after women (other generally nonexported Caribbean varieties include Amelie and Julie).

Keitt: This is the largest mango variety available (weighing in, on average, at two pounds) Unlike other mangoes, a Keitt may remain totally green with just the slightest trace of yellow even when fully ripe.

Kent: This is an oval-shaped mango that is fuller and not as flat as other varieties. It has particularly smooth, non-fibrous flesh.

Haden: This is the roundest (least kidney-shaped) of the commonly available mangoes. Like the Kent, it has a very smooth, juicy flesh.

Availability

Some mangoes are available as early as January, but those that come on the market later are generally of better quality. Mexican mangoes are plentiful from April through September; Florida mangoes are in good supply from May through August, usually peaking in June and July.

Shopping

Mangoes aren't usually labeled with their varietal names, but it's worth asking the produce manager what's available in order to take advantage of the differences in taste and texture.

The size of a mango depends on the variety; it is not an indicator of quality or ripeness. Although there are differences in color according to variety, most mangoes start off green and develop patches of gold, yellow, or red as they ripen (except for the Keitt, which stays primarily green, with only a hint of yellow). A ripe mango will yield to slight pressure when held between your hands. The skin should show a blush of either yellow-orange or red, which will increase in area as the fruit ripens. A completely greenish-gray skin indicates that the mango will not ripen properly.

A perfectly ripe mango will have an intense, flowery fragrance; it should not smell fermented or have overtones of turpentine. Black speckles on the skin are characteristic of this fruit as it ripens, but an overabundance of black spots on a ripe mango may indicate damage to the flesh beneath. A loose or shriveled skin is also a sign of a mango past its prime.

Storage

Leave underripe mangoes at cool room temperature for a few days to soften and sweeten--very warm temperatures can cause an off-flavor to develop. Place two mangoes in a paper bag to speed ripening (or, if you don't have two mangoes, put another fruit such as an apple or banana in with the mango). Ripe mangoes will keep for two to three days in the refrigerator.

Preparation

Because the mango flesh clings to both the sturdy skin as well as the large, flat stone in the middle, it can be a challenge to peel and pit. For flatter types of mangoes, hold the fruit stem-end up, with one of the narrow ends facing you. Cut vertically on one side of the pit. Then cut another slice off the other side of the pit; a band of fruit will remain around the pit. Use a paring knife to carefully loosen each half-fruit from its thick skin, then slice it. (Or, without peeling the fruit, score the flesh of each half into cubes, being careful not to slice through the skin; then turn the fruit inside-out so the cut side pops outward, and slice the cubes off the skin.) Cut away the band of fruit left around the pit, then peel off the skin.

To slice a rounder mango, concentrate on one side of the fruit at a time: Hold the mango in your hand and score the skin into four lengthwise portions, then peel each quarter section like a banana. After peeling slice the flesh where you scored it, then run the knife under it to free it from the pit; carefully remove the flesh. Treat the other side of the fruit the same way.

Nutrition Chart

Mango/1 cup slices

107
Total fat (g)
0.5
Saturated fat (g)
0.1
Monounsaturated fat (g)
0.2
Polyunsaturated fat (g)
0.1
Dietary fiber (g)
3
1
Carbohydrate (g)
28
Cholesterol (mg)
0
Sodium (mg)
3
Beta-carotene (mg)
3.9
Vitamin C (mg)
46
Vitamin E (mg)
1.9
Vitamin B6 (mg)
0.2


Date Published: 04/20/2005
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