A rundown of everything about mangoes…variations, how to cut them, where they comes from, and an oft overlooked downside to these tasty fruits.
What are mangoes?
Originally from South Asia, mangoes made their way across the tropics and into America in 1880. Today, mangoes are the most commonly eaten fruit in the world, with India being the greatest supplier. It’s a stone fruit, meaning it has one hard seed surrounded by tasty fruit. Peaches, cherries, and plums are all stone fruits as well.
being the greatest supplier. It’s a stone fruit, meaning it has one hard seed surrounded by tasty fruit. Peaches, cherries, and plums are all stone fruits as well.
Choose mangoes based on aroma and touch rather than appearance. A ripe mango smells sweet and rich and is slightly soft, but color varies by type of mango.
In America, we get mangoes from a lot of different countries across Central and South America, to include Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, Guatemala, Brazil, and Haiti, as well as from our own backyard in California and Florida. What does this mean? Due to varying growth calendars, we can pretty much have mangoes all year round!
Variations of Mangoes
There are many variations of mangoes, some being better for drying, some good as a puree, and others perfect eaten fresh. But there are some main ones that are pretty common here in ‘murica (and that were on sale at my grocery for $0.30 …what what?!)
- Haden: The mother of all mangoes. Literally. Most mangoes grown in the U.S. today are a descendent of this mango variety, which popped up in Florida in the early 1900s.
- Tommy Atkin: Your most popular mango. It’s red/green/yellow and has a mild sweet flavor. It’s also pretty fibrous, which accounts for its firmness.
- Ataulfo: These guys are small, yellow, and sweeeet. They have a more smooth texture due to a lack of fibers, and they have an almost creamy taste.
How to Store Mangoes
Store mangoes at room temperature until they are soft, then move them to the refrigerator. You can also store them frozen, either whole or precut. Frozen mango is better for use as a puree or in smoothies.
How to Chop Mangoes
- Get yourself a mango and find the little belly button. Look at it and you’ll see there are two equal halves.
- Cut ½ inch from the belly button to avoid the seed. The mango seed is oblong, flat, and nearly impossible to cut through. So create two mango “cheeks” by cutting off the two halves.
- With a paring knife (or a small knife), create dices by cutting width and length wise down to (but not through!) the skin.
- With a spoon, scoop out the cubes. Whoever invents a spoon with one sharp edge for this purpose will be a hero to mango lovers world wide.
- There’s still a good bit of fruit left surrounding the seed. The best way I’ve found to get this off is to simply whittle away at it until you’ve got as close to the seed as you can.
A Word for the Wise
The skin of the mango is a common allergen (one that I had the pleasure of discovering while on a Hawaiian vacation). The skin contains urushiol, the same compound found in poison ivy that causes an itchy rash. To avoid an itchy mouth and lips, remove the skin prior to eating the mango.
Mango Nutrition Information
per 1 cup (165g) of diced, raw mango
- Calories: 107
- Carbohydrates: 28g
- Fiber: 3g, 12% Daily Value (DV)
- Protein: 1g
- Fat: 0g
- 76% DV of Vitamin C: A water-soluble vitamin that acts as an antioxidant to fight against potentially damaging free radicals (molecules with unshared electrons that float around wreaking havoc) and an important cofactor in collagen synthesis.
- 25% DV of Vitamin A: Provides the provitamin version of this fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it comes from a plant source and your body converts the plant pigment into active Vitamin A. It is essential in many components of healthy vision, as well as immunity and cell growth / differentiation.
- 11% DV of Vitamin B6 (a.k.a Pyridoxine): A water-soluble vitamin that works behind the scenes as a coenzyme in many important reactions within your body, including protein metabolism and red blood cell formation, among countless other functions.
- 9% DV of Vitamin E: A fat-soluble antioxidant that fights against potentially damaging free radicals from reacting with oxygen when fat is metabolized.
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