Mangoes are one of the more exotic fruits we see in our baskets. When they are in season, generally in the late spring and fall, we can get cases of them as a add-on. There are usually two types of mangoes available to us commercially, the Tommy Atkins, which are the big green mangoes kissed with red highlights, and the Ataulfo, or Champagne mango. This week, we’re getting Ataulfos.
These little yellow orange delights are my favorite mango. They make a superior lassi or smoothie because they are so smooth. There are none of those fibers that you find in the bigger mangoes, and their small pit give you more mango meat for their weight. All in all, they are an excellent value.
Mangoes are one of the fruits that ripen better after being picked. Store them at room temperature until they give slightly to the touch, about like how you’d choose an avocado, and turn a beautiful golden yellow. It’s better to refrigerate them after they are ripe so they will continue to produce the ethelyne gas that ripens them. If you refrigerate them too early, you may interrupt this process. Mangoes will last in the fridge for 7 – 10 days. Eat them up!
Now, for a little instruction on how to cut a mango up into useful squares for your salsa or salad, or just to give to the kids as a healty snack.
Put the mango on your cutting board, holding it stem side up. You can’t just cut this fruit in half, like you would an apple because you’ll run into that woody seed. Cut about less than a quarter inch to one side of the stem. Slice gently, feeling the edge of the seed as you go, and cut off one ‘cheek’ of the fruit.
Do this on the other side of the fruit. Here’s a picture of how far from the stem you should cut:
Set the center part that contains the seed aside for a moment, we’ll get back to that bit. Put a tea towel or a couple layers of paper towel in your non-dominant hand (lefties or righties, we’re equal opportunity here) and cup the mango cheek. Take a paring knife in your other hand and gently cut straight lines into the meat. You don’t want to cut through the skin, so go slow and feel how far you should cut! Give the mango a quarter turn, and repeat. Again, you don’t want to cut through the skin, just into the meat.
Press on two edges of the mango and pop it inside out. This is the ‘porcupine’ that kids love to eat right off the skin. Give them a paper towel and a mango porcupine and it’s instant fun, healthy dessert!
If you want squares, simply cut the flesh off the skin. There is much less mess and waste doing it this way. Now, back to the pit. Use a paring knife to cut away the skin on either side of the seed.
Cut straight down through the meat to the pit on both sides, then run your knife along the pit to remove the last few squares of mango.
Feel free to nibble the last of the fruit from the pit. That’s the cook’s treat!
That’s how you do it! Take your time and you’ll have mango squares to make salsa, fruit salads, freeze for smoothies or whatever recipe you have in mind. It’s wonderful and so healty to have extra fruit in the house.