Mangoes, the “divine fruit” of India, are delicious fresh or pickled, and are perfect for refreshing summertime beverages or desserts.
The mango is a tropical fruit that is a delight to use in a wide range of recipes, from soups to meats to desserts. The shape will vary from rounded to pear-like. The average size is about 4-5 inches in length.
In India, mangoes are revered as the “food of the gods” and reportedly have been grown for at least 4,000-6,000 years.
They represent hospitality in their homeland and are also known as the “bathtub fruit” for excessive juiciness. Often, Indian children are required to remove their clothing before diving into this flavorful, fleshy treat.
There are hundreds of mango varieties, but rarely will you see the numerous species noted by name at the grocery or market. “Haden” and “Tommy Atkins” are most abundant in U.S. fruit bins followed by “Keitt,” “Francine,” and “Kent.”
Although several countries - namely India with more than 100 native species - produce the fruit, most commercial varieties will originate in Mexico, Florida, and South America.
June, July, and August are the peak months for best selection and taste. However, this tropical fruit is available from January through October in many areas.
A ripe mango, which will feel like a firm cushion when pressed, ranges in color from yellow to reddish. Some varieties, such as Keitt, remain green.
A sniff test around the stem should detect a pleasant aroma; a vinegar type odor means the fruit is beyond its prime. Some recipes – chutneys, for instance – call for unripe fruits.
• This fruit will keep in a cool place for up to two weeks if unripe.
• A warm temperature will increase the ripening process, but flavor may decrease; too cold, and it will spoil quickly.
• When it becomes ripe, it will remain edible for a few additional days if refrigerated.
• Mangoes freeze well at any stage, with or without added sugar or syrup.
The flesh is messy when eaten raw and can stain clothing. To enjoy fresh, use a specially designed fork with an elongated middle tine to pierce through the skin and into the pit. The skin is high in acids and is not edible.
You can also cube it and toss into salads, although skin removal is somewhat of a challenge. Some varieties are more fibrous than others.
For cooking purposes, a medium mango is equal to about a 3/4 cup of puree or 2 cups of cubed flesh.
• A tart apple may be used instead of an un
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