The Marvelous Mango.

The mango is an edible stone fruit from the tropical tree Mangifera indica which is thought to have come from the region around Bangladesh and northwestern India over 5,000 years ago. Mangoes are sweet, fleshy, and creamy fruits that are very popular world-wide.  I am a mango lover – it’s easy to tell when they are ripe and easy to peel.

There are many (hundreds) varieties, my preference is for the sweeter ones like Alphonso.

I also like the Champagne (Ataulfo) variety with sweet flesh and golden outer skin.

Mango is so popular that it is the national fruit of three countries – Pakistan, India, and the Philippines.  It is also the national tree of Bangladesh.   Tommy Atkins is the variety grown in the largest numbers – over 43 million tons annually. India is the world’s largest producer and has been growing mangoes for over 5,000 years but kept them secret from the U.S. until the early 20th century.  It is resistant to fungus, doesn’t bruise easily and lasts a long time on supermarket shelves. Like anything mass-produced, it is also relatively tasteless and stringy.  A recent news item said that due to drought, this year’s mango crop in India will fall by 20%. Like everything else, it seems, mangoes will become more expensive and difficult to find.

Mangoes have many health benefits. One cup of mango has about 60mg of vitamin C.  As a gauge, adults aged 19-64 are recommended to get 40mg of vitamin C a day.  Mangoes contain over twenty different vitamins and minerals particularly vitamin A, and folate.  They also contain a good amount of fiber.

Here are some fun facts about mangoes:

  • The paisley pattern developed in India is based upon the shape of the mango.
  • The mango pit, bark, leaves and skin have been used in folk and natural remedies for centuries.
  • Mangoes are related to cashews and pistachios.
  • Mangoes are considered a symbol of love in India and a basket of mangoes is considered a gift of friendship.
  • A mango will stop ripening if it is placed in the fridge.
  • Mangoes have tenderizing properties which make them a perfect ingredient for marinades. Enzymes in the mango juice help speed up the breakdown of proteins into amino acids, making meat less chewy.

How to buy and keep:

  • Look for an unblemished mango that has a little give when gently squeezed
  • Store at room temperature until soft and ripe. After it is ripe, store in the fridge either whole or peeled and cut up for up to five days.
  • It is delicious served with a squeeze of lime juice. It pairs well with fish, avocados, tacos, and curries, and is delicious added to a smoothie.

Recipe for fresh mango marinade:

Put one freshly cubed mango in a blender

Add one tablespoon of oil

Add two tablespoons of orange juice or white wine

Add ginger, brown sugar, garlic, and red chili flakes to taste

Add salt and pepper, and any other seasoning you like

Process until smooth.

Marinate your meat for at least two hours for maximum tenderness.