One taste of a perfectly ripe mango is enough to make anyone a lifelong fan of the juicy, sunset-hued fruit. Here’s everything you need to know about mangoes, from their many varieties to ripeness indicators and cutting techniques.
Where Do Mangos Come From?
The mangos you’ll find at grocery stores and specialty produce markets are usually imported. That’s because evergreen mango trees only thrive in tropical climates. U.S. mango growers can be found in Florida, California, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico, but their supplies are limited compared with producers in Southeast Asia, Australia, the Caribbean, Latin America, and South America.
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Mangos are native to India, where they have been cultivated for over 5,000 years. There, mangoes symbolize love and friendship, and traditional paisley designs were originally based on curved mango shapes. Over time, the fruit has traveled around the world and is now an integral part of most tropical cuisines. In fact, mangoes are the No. 1 fruit in the world, outpacing banana consumption by 3 to 1!
How Do You Tell If a Mango Is Ripe?
Each mango variety has its own ripeness indicators (more on that below), but the best way to tell if a mango is ripe is its feel and smell. The fruit should give slightly when gently squeezed (like an avocado) and have a fragrant scent that’s similar to peaches.
The biggest issue when shopping for mangoes is over-ripeness. When mangoes pass their prime, they can become unpleasantly fibrous and develop a strong turpentine-like scent and flavor. Avoid fruit that is soft and bruised or mangoes that have lots of dark freckling or large black spots.
How to Store Mango
Unripe mangoes can be kept at room temperature for three to four days until they ripen. After that, they should be stored in the fridge. Cut mangoes will stay fresh several days in the fridge or can be frozen up to 6 months.
How to Cut a Mango
Mangoes have long, flat, hard pits, and tough, bitter skin. Here’s how to remove them without wasting any of the juicy, sweet flesh.
- Slice away the stem end with a sharp knife, then set the unpeeled mango upright. Cut the rounded lobes on each side away from the pit, running the knife as close to the pit as possible.
- Set 1 mango lobe skin side down on the cutting board, and score with tic-tac-toe-style slashes the size of the cubes you’d like, without cutting through the skin. Repeat with the other lobe
- Gently press the skin side of the lobe to turn the mango inside out.
- Slice the cubes away from the skin. Voila!
To keep the mango lobes whole or slice or dice them finely, simply peel the fruit before slicing away the lobes.
Mangoes are available year-round, though types and origins may vary from season to season. Here’s a rundown of the most common varieties and when they’re available.
Tommy Atkins Mango
Tommy Atkins mangoes are large and mild with a hint of citrus and dense, juicy flesh. This variety is a great all-purpose mango, which is why it’s the most readily available kind in North America.
Ripeness indicators: Tommy Atkins mangoes develop a predominant red blush over their golden-green skin as they ripen. When overripe, the skin begins to sag, and black spots appear.
Ataulfo or Honey Mango
Small, bright yellow with a honey-sweet, tropical flavor and smooth, fiberless flesh. Soft Ataulfo or honey mangoes are ideal for blending into smoothies, sauces, and nice creams.
Ripeness indicators: The skin starts to turn a deep yellow gold and will wrinkle slightly when the fruit is fully ripe.
Available March–April, August–September
Citrusy, with firm flesh and deep green skin. The fruit keeps its shape when sliced or diced for salsa and salads.
Ripeness indicators: Keitt mangoes have skin that remains green, even when ripe. The fruit should feel soft (like a peach) and smell fragrant.
Haden mangoes are ultra-peachy, slightly sour, and firm. The medium-size fruit is more round than oblong, with skin that’s green, gold, and red. Use anywhere you’d use fresh peaches.
Ripeness indicators: The green skin turns yellow as it ripens, and the red blush becomes more predominant.
Francis or Haitian Mango
Francis or Haitian mangoes are slightly S-shaped, super-sweet, and somewhat fibrous with green-yellow skin. Francis mangoes are best in raw recipes where their fibers aren’t as noticeable.
Ripeness indicators: The yellower the skin, the riper the mango. The fruits are also very fragrant when ripe.
Kent or Florida Red Mango
Kent or Florida red mangoes are juicy and sweet-tart with green skin. The creamy, deep-orange flesh is smooth enough for blended recipes, and firm enough for slicing and dicing.
Ripeness indicators: Green-gold skin with yellow freckling is a sign of optimal ripeness. The fruit may also develop a rosy blush over a small area.
Golden on the outside with saffron-hued, creamy, non-fibrous flesh. Alphonso is known as “the king of mangoes” in India, where it’s eaten for breakfast, blended into drinks, and added to spicy curries.
Ripeness indicators: Greenish-yellow skin turns more golden and the fruit becomes lusciously fragrant. Alphonso mangoes can become over-ripe very quickly.
Mango Recipes to Try Today
Enjoy the sweet, tender fruit in these healthy plant-based recipes.
National Mango Board photos used with permission. All rights reserved.
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