What are Mangos?

Mangos are members of the “stone” fruit family, the same category as peaches, cherries, olives and, interestingly, cashews. As with other stone fruits, the fleshy part of the fruit surrounds a single pit. Mangos originally came to America in the late 1800’s from India, where they continue to be the national fruit but are now grown all over the world in most tropical climates.  There are almost 300 types of mangoes in India, though far fewer that are grown or exported outside of that country.  The Alphonso mango is one of the most prized mangos in India, called the King of Mangoes.

How to Cut a Mango

What Do Mangos Look Like?

The most common mangoes sold in American supermarkets come from South America, but may also be grown in California and Florida.  Depending on the country of origin and the specific type, the mango can vary in size, shape, sweetness, skin color (reds, oranges, yellows and greens, or a combo), and flesh color which may be pale yellow, gold, or any shade of orange. The most common mangos found here are Haden and Tommy Atkin mangos and have red/green/yellow outsides and juicy yellow insides.   

How Do You Pick the Best Mango?

For mangos, color is not the best indicator of ripeness since that can vary greatly by variety. You should rely on smell and touch to determine a ripe mango which should have a sweet aroma and be slightly soft to the touch. 

How to Cut a Mango

Why Do Mangos Make Some People Itchy?

The skin of the mango contains urushiol which is the same oil that causes an itchy rash if you touch poison ivy. People with a high sensitivity to poison ivy could get a bit itchy on the hands if exposed to the oil.  If you are concerned, use a plastic bag to pick up the fruit at the market and wash your hands after handling or peeling. Simple soap and water will easily wash off the urushiol within 10 minutes of skin exposure however once the oil seeps into the skin, it can’t be washed off.  The flesh itself usually is fine for people who have the sensitivity to the skin, but again, if you have an intolerance for poison ivy, go slow, try a small amount, and work up to a larger portion.

And whether you have sensitivity or not, it’s best not to eat the outer skin.  The itchiness caused by the urushiol is not something you want to experience in your mouth or throat.  

Are Mangos Nutritious?

Mangoes are also high in fiber and vitamin C., and have nice amounts of vitamin A and B6.   It’s also a good source of minerals like folate and copper.  ¾ of a cup of mango has about 70 calories.  

What is the Season for Mangos?

Because mangos can come from so many different countries, you can buy mangos at any time of year.  Different types may be available at different times, but Haden and Tommy Atkinds mangos should be available year round.

How to Cut a Mango

How Do You Store Mangos?

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 Do You Cut a Mango?

Here’s the easiest way to cut a mango:

1. Use a peeler to remove the whole outer skin of the mango and discard.

How to Cut a Mango

2. Stand the mango up now so that you are looking down on the top where the stem was.

3. Using a paring knife, cut down against the flat sides of the pit (the pit is almost impossible to cut anyway).

How to Cut a Mango

4. You’ll have two “halves” or “cheeks” now cut from each side which can be cut up further to create smaller pieces for serving.

How to Cut a Mango

5. Now slice the other two sides the same way being careful to avoid the pit; try to cut along the curve of the pit to get the most fruit in one piece.

How to Cut a Mango

6. You will likely still have a lot of fruit surrounding the pit which will just need to be creatively sliced away to create more pieces.

How to Cut a Mango: Everything you need to know about buying, storing, peeling and cutting mangos.

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Here’s A Different Fun Way to Cut and Serve a Mango:

  1. Leave the skin on but use a paring knife to slice down the mango as above.
How to Cut a Mango

2. Take one side and flip over so the fleshy part is facing up.

3. With a paring knife, score the fleshy part width and length wise making a small checkerboard being careful NOT to cut through the skin on the bottom. Do the same which the second half.

How to Cut a Mango

4. Press the skin so that the cubes kind of invert outwards, but are still attached to the skin.  Bite the cubes from the skin.

How to Cut a Mango

Weird Mango Fact:

I’m not all that science when it come to food, but this was interesting:  You can’t make Jell-O with fresh mango (or pineapple, papaya, guava or kiwi). This is because all of these fresh fruits contain proteases that digest the links formed between collagen molecules that make the liquid turn into a gel. Canned fruit works though, since the proteases are deactivated in the boiling process used in canning. So, if Mango Jell-O is on the menu, simply boil the mango fruit first.

Also check out How to Cut a Papaya

Fresh Mango Recipes

Try mango in these recipes:

Citrusy Mango Ginger Salsa / Photo by Kerri Brewer / Katie Workman / themom100.com

Citrusy Mango Ginger Salsa

Completely fresh and interesting and the nicest way to dress up a simple piece of fish or meat.

Tropical Fruit Salsa / Photo by Cheyenne Cohen / Katie Workman / themom100.com

Tropical Fruit Salsa

This will add color and crazy flavor to anything it’s served with.

A Peach Cocktail and a Mocktail for Mixed Company / Mia / Katie Workman / themom100.com

A Peach Cocktail and a Mocktail for Mixed Company

Delicious with sparkling wine, or substitute with sparkling water to make it kid-friendly.

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