Mangoes originated in Southeast Asia or
India, and India is still the primary producer (it grows more mangoes
than all other fruits combined). Latin American countries and the
Caribbean islands are also avid consumers of this luscious fruit.
When ripe, the flesh is soft and exceptionally juicy, to the point
where eating a mango can be a fairly messy business. But the taste
is matchless, somewhat like a mix of peach and pineapple, only sweeter
The size of a mango depends on the variety; it is not an indicator
of quality or ripeness. Although there are differences in colour
according to variety, most mangoes start off green and develop
patches of gold, yellow, or red as they ripen. A ripe mango will
yield to slight pressure when held between your hands. The skin
should show a blush of either yellow-orange or red, which will
increase in area as the fruit ripens. A completely greenish grey
skin indicates that the mango will not ripen properly.
A perfectly ripe mango will have an intense,
flowery fragrance; it should not smell fermented or have overtones
of turpentine. Black speckles on the skin are characteristic of
this fruit as it ripens, but an over abundance of black spots
on a ripe mango may indicate damage to the flesh beneath. A loose
or shriveled skin is also a sign of a mango past its prime.
Leave underripe mangoes at cool room temperature for a few days
to soften and sweeten, very warm temperatures can cause an off
flavour to develop. Place two mangoes in a paper bag to speed
ripening (or, if you don't have two mangoes, put another fruit
such as an apple or banana in with the mango). Ripe mangoes will
keep for two to three days in the refrigerator.
Because the mango flesh clings to both the sturdy skin as well
as the large, flat stone in the middle, it can be a challenge
to peel and pit. For flatter types of mangoes, hold the fruit
stem-end up, with one of the narrow ends facing you. Cut vertically
on one side of the pit. Then cut another slice off the other side
of the pit; a band of fruit will remain around the pit. Use a
paring knife to carefully loosen each half-fruit from its thick
skin, then slice it. (Or, without peeling the fruit, score the
flesh of each half into cubes, being careful not to slice through
the skin; then turn the fruit inside-out so the cut side pops
outward, and slice the cubes off the skin.) Cut away the band
of fruit left around the pit, then peel off the skin.
To slice a rounder mango, concentrate on one
side of the fruit at a time: Hold the mango in your hand and score
the skin into four lengthwise portions, then peel each quarter
section like a banana. After peeling, slice the flesh where you
scored it, then run the knife under it to free it from the pit;
carefully remove the flesh. Treat the other side of the fruit
the same way.