Mangoes are tropical stone fruit called the “king of fruit” because their juicy flavor is a mix of the flavors of peaches, pineapple, and oranges. The mango tree – Mangifera Indica – has been around for about 4 000 years. Mangoes are synonymous with India, still the largest producer, where it is considered a sacred fruit that can grant wishes. Mangoes belong to the Anacardiaceae family and are botanically relatedtocashews and pistachio nuts.  

mangos growing in a tree
Adobe stock

Mango is the most popular fruit in the world since they are eaten across the world more than any other fruit, yet it is little known and appreciated in the U.S. Most people here consider mangoes an exotic fruit even though it has been grown in Florida since 1800s and is also grown in California plus Hawaii, plus Puerto Rico. 

Mango cultivars are the “Indian type” and the “Southeast Asian” type, and flesh color varies from pale yellow to gold to green and orange. Their peak season is May through September, but you can get mangos in the stores most of the year because there are two varieties that are harvested in December and January.   

clipart of different styles of mangos
Adobe stock

They are very nutritious 

Mangoes are a great source of folate and copper. Green mangoes also contain much more vitamin C than ripen mangoes. Mangoes are especially sought after for their high levels of Mangiferin, a phytonutrient that may slow the absorption of sugar through the intestinal walls. Mango leaves are also edible, and they contain several beneficial plant compounds, including polyphenols and terpenoids, and Quercetin which is a plant pigment also found in red wine, onions, green tea, apples, and berries. Using a nutritional scoring system, Mangoes outperform apples in their level of antioxidants, with apples having a score of 56 and mangoes with a score of 108. Only blueberries score higher at 367. Strawberries are also high at 315.    

How to choose the Best Mango 

Buying mangoes is similar to choosing avocadoes or peaches. Color may not tell you if the fruit is ready to be eaten, but a ripe mango will give slightly. Choose a fruit that is very fragrant, and be sure not to squeeze any fruit that you are not ready to buy because it will make the fruit spoil faster. This is especially frowned upon at European farmers’ markets). Mangoes continue to ripen after they have been picked. If the mango you brought home is not slightly soft to touch, place it in a brown paper bag, close the bag tightly, and leave it on the counter. The fruit will be ready in a few days. If they get too ripe, you can refrigerate them for a couple of days or slice them up. 

fresh mango half cut up sitting on a cutting board

Cut With Care 

Mangoes have a long hard pit in the middle that contours their shape. There are several ways to cut them, depending on how you are going to use them. When cutting, hold them firmly with the help of a kitchen towel. 

Slice each side, avoiding the seed, which is about a ¼ inch from the center. Cut two parts away from the center and cut the flesh of each half in a grid pattern without going through the skin. Turn the cut mango inside out and start eating or cut away the chunks with a knife. Peel the remaining middle section containing the pit and carefully cut away the pulp. This section contains more fiber, so it is easier to cut against the fiber (just like when cutting meat). Squeeze the mango pits hard to extract as much of the pulp and juice as possible.     

Culinary Uses 

Mangoes are popular in many cuisines. The most popular are sour, unripe mangoes that are made into chutneys. They are made into Asian salads eaten with fish sauce, vinegar, and soy sauce that may be too exotic for Western taste buds. Over ripened mango flesh can be frozen are used in milkshakes, sorbets, and ice creams. Mangoes are also dried into strips that make a great snack. Mangoes are used in salsa and in tacos or grilled with meats. They are delicious in cocktails. Chunks can be blended with sugar, water, lime juice, rum, and salt, as a refreshing drink. 

mango drink in a clear glass sitting on a granite counter

Mango Lassi

Lassis are an ancient drink originating from the Punjab region of Northern India and Eastern Pakistan. It is used in Ayurvedic medicine to help aid digestion and to “calm the mind and stomach .”There are both salty and sweet versions of the drink. Mango Lassis are still great to cool down on hot summer days.

Ingredients: 

1 cup chopped-up mango 

1 cup plain yogurt

¼ Tsp cardamom powder

Note: Cardamom is the traditional spice, but there are many flavors that go well with mangoes: cinnamon, turmeric, nutmeg, cumin, saffron, paprika, cayenne, or even chocolate. 

cut mangos in a jar and a container of yogurt sitting on a counter

Cut and peel mangoes and place them in a blender or food processor. Scoop in plain yogurt.

mango and yogurt in a blender jar

Combine cold mango with cold yogurt and cardamom and blend well.

mango drink in a clear glass sitting on a granite counter

Enjoy! Mango Lassi is a delicious creamy drink. It’s cool and refreshing, especially on a hot day! While drinking, think of far way exotic destination in Punjab. 

Disclaimer:

Information contained here is not intended to treat or cure any diseases or provide medical advice.

Magda Born

mborn@kckpl.org

Community Services Librarian

Kansas City, Kansas Public Library

625 Minnesota Ave.

Kansas City, KS 66101

913-295-8250 ext 1103

Sources: 

https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/mango/

https://www.mango.org/how-to-cut-a-mango/

https://www.science.gov/topicpages/f/fresh+mango+fruit

Resources: 

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