Mangoes are absolutely delicious and one of my favorite fruits to have readily available in the kitchen. Once you dice up a mango, they make for a useful ingredient that can be included in a variety of meals to add that much needed tropical kick. I recently got a shipment of mangoes in from Harry and David and they looked so good I had to write an article about them!
What They Are
Mangoes are a fruit (they have a pit) that are fleshy and have a light-orange ripened skin color. A typical mango is around three to five inches in length and weighs approximately one pound. Mangoes originated in South Asia and were first imported to the American colonies in the 17th century. Mangoes have become one of the most widely-cultivated fruits in sub-tropical regions, with India producing the largest quantity of them.
There are actually over 100 different types of mangoes—they belong to the Mangifera classification that includes close to 70 different species of flowering plants. The kind that we buy in the grocery store are known as the common or “Indian” mangoes. The mangoes I received from Harry and David are called Honey Mangoes and have a more yellow-skin tone and a thinner pit.
The supermarket mangoes that we purchase ripen as they are shipped to us and aren’t nearly as good as the fresh mangoes off the trees in the tropics. So, if you ever get a chance to pluck a truly ripe mango from a tree in another country, don’t hesitate!
Can You Eat Mango Skin?
According to some sources online, the skin of a mango isn’t unhealthy to ingest in small quantities, although I wouldn’t recommend biting into it like you would an apple. I took a little nibble of this very tough skin and it tasted horrible, yet some people ingest it for its rumored health benefits (like supposedly lowering your cholesterol level).
So, it’s up to your own personal preference, but here’s a quick warning: I did a little research and found that the skin of a mango contains a chemical called “urushiol” that is similar to the chemical in poison ivy, causing many people to experience allergic reactions after eating the skin. So, nibble at your own discretion!
How To Pick A Good Mango at the Market
Mangoes have an incredibly sweet taste and soft texture, but only if you eat them at the right time. Unripe mangoes are pretty tough and bland in flavor. To check if a mango is ripe, I recommend giving it “the squeeze test.”
If you squeeze the mango in your hands and it feels rock-hard, then you should leave it in the kitchen for a day or two until it develops a little softness to it. Don’t let the mango get too squishy though—the fruit still retains most of its firmness even when fully ripened.
When you’re purchasing mangoes from the produce section, consider color, size, firmness, as well as any blemishes on the exterior of the fruit. If the skin of the mango is green, it is probably not ripened; it’s best to pick out a mango that is a golden-orange or dark yellow at the grocery store. Also, larger mangoes mean more fruit to eat around the stone, so look for the ones that are a bit bigger in size.
Smell is also a good indicator if a mango is ready to be eaten: it should give off a sweet and fruity aroma when it has reached its peak ripeness. You can always purchase un-ripened mangoes at the grocery store and just stick them in your pantry until they are ready to be eaten or used in a recipe. To preserve an already ripened mango, put it in your refrigerator’s crisper to keep it from going bad.
What To Eat Them With
Mangoes are delicious in the summer time when they are in season and taste great in desserts, smoothies, salads, and salsas. You can eat mango on it’s own or diced up in other dishes. Try a mango smoothie, put a mango on a kabob stick and eat with yogurt, grill your mango, or slice it up to make a mango salsa or chutney.
To make a tasty salsa, look through your fridge, try a few things out, and see what flavors you think compliment the mango the best. Whatever you try it with, be sure not to overwhelm your dish with too mango—they are a very sweet fruit and only need a little bit to accent your meal. Because they taste so sweet, mangoes are often included in spicy salsas or with chili powder to get a much-desired zesty-sugary combination.