Mad for Mangoes

Grilled Shrimp with Mango SalsaOn a recent trip to Mexico, I enjoyed sweet slices of mango every morning for breakfast. It might have been the warm, sunny mornings on the balcony looking at beautiful flowers and greenery in February that made them seem even better, but I have continued to include them on my shopping list ever since.

Where Do Mangoes Come From?

The mango was first grown on Southeast Asia, where it has been grown for over 4,000 years. Since then, mango groves have spread to many parts of the tropics and sub-tropics where the climate allows them to grow best. Most of the mangoes sold in the United States are imported from Mexico, Haiti, the Caribbean and South America, as well as California and Florida.

Mango trees are evergreens that will grow to sixty feet tall. It takes four to five years after planting before they will bear fruit. They require hot, dry periods to set and produce a good crop as well. With over 1,000 varieties available, it is interesting to see their different shapes and sizes.

Nutritional Value of Mangoes

Besides their sweet, tropical taste, mangoes are great for your health. One cup of sliced mango gives you 25% of the vitamin A you should have in a day (primarily from antioxidant-rich beta-carotene), plus 75% of the vitamin C you need. They are a good source of fiber as well, and like pineapples, mangoes contain certain enzymes that may help with digestion.

What to Look For When Purchasing Fresh Mangoes

When purchasing mangoes, you'll want to look for a yellow -colored skin with a beautiful red mottling to select a ripe one. It will also have a full, fruity aroma emitting from the stem end. They should be slightly soft to the touch and yield to gentle pressure like a ripe peach. The fragrant flesh is a brilliant golden orange, very juicy and a wonderful balance of sweet and tart flavors.

If the mango isn't ripe when purchased, leave it on the kitchen counter or place it in a paper bag overnight. An apple added to the bag will accelerate the ripening process by creating more natural ethylene gas. Once ripened, the mango can be refrigerated for a few days, but should be used shortly after.

How to Cut a Mango

The only possible negative of fresh mangos is the large, flat seed that runs the length of the fruit. The easiest way to remove the fruit from this seed is to trim the ends off the fruit. This will give you a flat end to place on the counter. Cut away the thin skin from top to bottom following the curvature of the fruit. (The skin should not be eaten as it contains irritants and allergens that can make you sick.) Cut the fruit into slices by carving lengthwise along the pit.

Uses for Mangoes

Mangoes really don't need anything to enhance their flavor and are often eaten alone. However, they have been long been used in chutney and can be combined with other fruits and vegetables to make a flavorful, sweet salsa to serve with chicken or fish. They make a colorful addition to a fruit or green salad. Enjoy our recipe for a salsa that is great with grilled shrimp (below).

Featured Recipes

Try some recipes that showcase the sweet taste of mango:
Grilled Shrimp with Sunny Mango Salad (pictured above)
Low-Fat Mango Spinach Pasta Salad
Macadamia Crusted Halibut Over Mango Coulis
Cedar Grilled Wasabi Crusted Salmon with Creamy Mango Sauce

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