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Friday, January 10, 2014



The mango is a fleshy stone fruit that comes from an evergreen tree.  It is native to South Asia.   The mango is cultivated in most frost-free tropical and warmer subtropical climates.  Almost half of the world's mangos are cultivated in India with China as a distant second.   The mango is the national fruit of India and the Philippines and the national tree of Bangladesh.  

Mangos are generally sweet, although the taste and texture of the flesh differs by variety.  Some have a soft pulpy texture similar to an overripe plum while others are firmer like cantaloupe.  Some have a fibrous texture.   There are over 400 varieties of mango.  My first exposure to the mango was here in Florida.  I remember trying to figure out what it tasted "like".  I  thought maybe a cantaloupe, probably suggested by the color as much as taste.  Then I thought I tasted coconut. Well, my final conclusion was that it did not taste like anything else.  It tasted like a mango.

Mangos contain a variety of phytochemicals and nutrients.  There are 20 different vitamins and nutrients in a mango.   Mango peel and pulp contains compounds such as pigment carotonoids and polyphenols and omega-3 and -6 fatty acids.  A cup of mango chunks contains only 100 calories and a full day supply of vitamin C.  It also has a good supply of vitamin A as well as fiber.  Preliminary studies  indicate that certain compounds in the mango skin have potential to lower the risk for diseases such as diabetes, high cholesterol levels, and some forms of cancer.   Unfortunately contact with oils in mango leaves, stems, and sap can cause dermatitis and anaphylaxis in suseptible individuals.  Persons with a history of poison ivy and poison
oak may be at most risk.

Mangos in  U.S. markets are generally from Florida or imported from Mexico, Haiti, or other parts of the Caribbean.  Mexican mangos are basically kidney shaped and large with   greenish yellow skin and a red-orange blush in May.  Their season is late March through September.  Florida's season runs from May through September.  The most popular Florida mango is the "Tommy Atkins" variety.  It is sweet and juicy with orange to orange-red skin and runs about a pound in size. Other Florida varieties include "Haden", "Keith", "Kent", and "Palmer".  Haitian mangos are available January through September.  They are very flat and elogated with skin that starts out lime green and ripens to yellow.  The flesh is a little more fibrous than other varieties, but it has an intense tropical taste.

In choosing a ripe mango do not consider the color.  It is not an indication of ripeness.  Squeeze the mango.  A ripe mango will give slightly to pressure.  Ripe mangos will sometimes have a fruity aroma at the stem end.  Keep unripe mangos at room temperature.  To speed the ripening process place the mango in a paper bag.  Once ripe move the mango to the refrigerator for up to 5 days.  Ripe mangos may be peeled, cubed and placed in an airtight container and kept in the refrigerator for several days, or the freezer for up to 6 months.

To peel a mango make sure you wash the mango and have clean utensils and a clean cutting surface.  With a pairing knife make 2 cuts each about a half inch from an imaginary center line running from top to bottom of the mango.  You will then have 3 slices,  the center one being the pit. Take the 2 outside slices and score them with the knife in a crisscross fashion being careful not to cut through the skin. (Neither the mango's nor your own!)  Then take the scored slice by its ends and by pushing against the skin to  pop it inside out.  You can then remove the chunks with a spoon or knife.  Do not eat the skin it has a bitter taste.

Mangoes are delicious eaten by themselves or in relishes, salsas, fruit salads, and chutney.  Mango goes well with ice cream, and is also used in tropical drinks.

So......Eat up!  Enjoy!  I'll show you how.

Simple but good:

Mango Salsa

1 fresh mango peeled and diced
1-2 jalapeno peppers seeded, ribs removed and diced
1 small clove of garlic crush finely and mixed with 1 tsp of sea salt
1/2 large red pepper seeded and diced
1/2 large red onion finely diced  (or1/4 cup sliced green onion)
juice of 1/2 fresh lime

Place all ingredients in a bowl and stir the mixture well.  Add the lime juice and stir it in.   Put mixture in the refrigerater for at least an hour.