Mango Isn't Just a Fad: How to Use the No. 1 Fruit in the World

Updated on June 9, 2018
Carb Diva profile image

Exploring food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes... one ingredient at a time.

Stop the Madness!

It has happened again. One year ago I wrote about the mania that had become "kale". The frilly green veggie had seemingly become the food fad of the 21st century. Well, move over kale, there's a new kid in town, and her name is mango.


In my little corner of the world we have a chain of grocery stores named "Trader Joe's". TJ's is a store that boasts of having innovative, hard-to-find, great-tasting foods at bargain prices. Every word of that is true. But on my most recent visit I discovered an alarming array of mango-flavored (or themed) items:

  • organic mango lemonade
  • mango macarons
  • mango and cream ice cream
  • grilled jerk chicken thigh skewers with mango chutney
  • mini mango pies
  • sweet and spicy mango dressing
  • orange peach mango juice
  • mango fruit and yogurt gummies
  • mango ginger seed crisps
  • mango taffy
  • mango coconut pudding
  • mango and strawberry flatbread
  • mango Cheerios
  • mango mochi, AND EVEN
  • mango body butter

Please don't get me wrong. I don't hate mango. I actually like it's sassy sweet/tart taste. But do we really that much of it in our lives?

A Long Time Ago...

Mangos were growing in Southeast Asia. In fact, Hindu writings dating back to 4000 B.C. (that’s more than 6,000 years ago) mention the sweet fruit. Not only did Buddhist monks cultivate mangos—they considered them to be sacred; it is said that Buddha himself meditated under a mango tree.

And Far, Far Away

Beginning around 300 or 400 A.D. mango seeds began to travel to other parts of the world—East Africa, the Middle East, and even to South America. Yes, mangos require a tropical climate, so their production in the United States is limited to Hawaii, California, Florida, and Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico has about 4,000 acres of mangos, but most of that crop exported to Europe.

The Top 10 Producers of Mangos

show route and directions
A markerMexico -
Mexico
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B markerBrazil -
Brazil
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C markerNigeria -
Nigeria
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D markerPakistan -
Pakistan
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E markerIndia -
India
get directions

F markerBangladesh -
Bangladesh
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G markerChina -
China
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H markerThailand -
Thailand
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I markerIndonesia -
Indonesia
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J markerPhilippines -
Philippines
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Rank
Country
Production
10th
Nigeria
790,200 tons - 3 %
9th
Philippines
823,576 tons - 3.6 %
8th
Bangladesh
1,047,850 tons - 3.9 %
7th
Brazil
1,188,910 tons - 4 %
6th
Indonesia
1,313,540 tons - 4.1 %
5th
Mexico
1,632,650 tons - 4.2 %
4th
Pakistan
1,784,300 tons - 4.6 %
3rd
Thailand
2,550,600 tons - 6.5 %
2nd
China
4,351,593 tons - 11.2 %
 
AND THE TOP PRODUCER IS
 
1st
India
16,337,400 tons - 42.2 %

That's a lot of mangos!

Not only do they taste wonderful, they are good for you too. But I wondered how do they stack up against two other common fresh fruit favorites. Here is what I learned:

 
Banana
Apple
Mango
Potassium
537 g.
118 g
257 g
Total Carb.
34.26 g
15.19 g
28.5 g
--Fiber
3.9 g
2.6 g
3 g
--Sugars
18.34 g
11.42 g
24.42 g
Vitamin A
2%
1%
25%
Vitamin C
22%
9%
76%
Calcium
1%
1%
2%
Iron
2%
1%
1%
Calories
134
58
107

Is This Mango Ripe?

How can you tell? Unlike peaches and nectarines, color is not an indicator of ripeness. So close your eyes and use your senses of touch and smell.

  • a ripe mango will give slightly under (gentle) pressure. Use your experience with finding a ripe avocado to discover that perfect mango.
  • Sniff the stem end--does it smell fragrant? If so, you have a great mango. No smell? It's probably under ripe.
  • Is the skin smooth? If so--perfect! If it seems wrinkled or withered, the fruit is past it's prime.

Fast Facts About Mangos

* A member of the Anachardiaceae family which also includes pistachios, cashews, and (believe it or not) poison ivy!

* Most widely consumed fresh fruit in the world

* 17 million metric tons produced each year

* Mexico is the largest exporter

* There are over 50 varieties of mango

* One tree can produce up to 100 mangos per year

Mango tree
Mango tree | Source

The Recipes

Carb Diva's Turkey Curry Salad

I created this salad for a reunion of retirees from the agency at which my husband and I worked. (Between the two of us, we spent 53 years with this amazing group of people.) The potluck was held outdoors, in mid-Summer on a perfect Sunday afternoon. What could be better than a balmy day on the lake with many friends, much food, and countless memories shared?

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon *curry powder
  • 1/3 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tsp. lime juice
  • 3 cups diced roast turkey or smoked turkey
  • 2 medium mangoes, peeled, pitted, and diced
  • 1/2 cup sweet onion, diced
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup salted cashews, chopped

Directions

  1. Place the curry powder in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat. Toast for 2-3 minutes or until fragrant. Watch carefully so that it doesn't burn. Remove pan from heat and immediately scrape toasted curry powder into small mixing bowl. When cool, stir in mayonnaise, yogurt, and lime juice. Set aside.
  2. Combine remaining ingredients except cashews in a large mixing bowl. Add curry-mayonnaise dressing and stir gently to combine. Cover and chill at least 4 hours or overnight.
  3. Add salted cashews just before serving.
  4. *I used McCormick--a blend of coriander, fenugreek, turmeric, cumin, black pepper, bay leaves, celery seed, nutmeg, cloves, onion, red pepper flakes, and ginger

And If You Want Some Entertainment While You Cook...

Mango Feta Salad

Anyone can slice a mango, toss it into a bowl with a few assorted ingredients and call it a salad. Krissy Ropiha (HerNourished) has elevated the mango salad to an art form. Her beautiful photography is matched by the ingenious combination of sweet/creamy/salty flavors of this mango/avocado/feta salad drizzled with aged balsamic vinegar.

Enjoy!

Tomato Mango Salsa

Source

Tomato/Mango Salsa

My husband loves tortilla chips and salsa. It's more than a snack--his noon-time meal is often a handful (or 2?) of crisp corn chips (South of the Border is his favorite). Those plus a small bowl of homemade salsa and he's a happy guy. (Is this why we have been happily married for 35 years?)

  • 1 ripe mango, diced (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 tomato, seeds removed, and diced (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 small English cucumber*, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1/3 cup diced red onions
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely minced
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • a sprinkle of Kosher salt, to taste

Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl. Cover and chill for an hour before serving.

* I prefer English cucumbers because they are seedless and (therefore) less watery.

fresh jicama
fresh jicama

Mango, Orange, and Jicama Salad

In my little corner of the world we are blessed to have a wonderful PBS (Public Broadcast System) channel that provides commercial-free programming. And each Saturday afternoon we have an opportunity to tune into "America's Test Kitchen".

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon lime zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 jicama, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 mangoes, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 oranges, peel removed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Directions

  1. Place lime juice, sugar, zest, and red pepper flakes in small saucepan. Bring to a simmer and stir. When sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Stir prepared jicama into lime/red pepper flake dressing. Let sit for 15 minutes.
  3. Fold prepared mango and orange into jicama/dressing mixture.
  4. Cover and chill for 1 hour.


What is America's Test Kitchen?

America's Test Kitchen is a real 2,500 square foot test kitchen located just outside of Boston that is home to more than three dozen full-time cooks and product testers. Our mission is simple: to develop the absolute best recipes for all of your favorite foods. To do this, we test each recipe 30, 40, sometimes as many as 70 times, until we arrive at the combination of ingredients, technique, temperature, cooking time, and equipment that yields the best, most-foolproof recipe.

Mango Lemon Bars

Mango Lemon Bars

I love lemon bars--the buttery, slightly salty shortbread crust, the tangy-creamy lemon filling, and then (oh joy!!) the dusting of coconut on top. Or, if I want to be really decadent, a bit of powdered sugar as well.

Mallory, of "Chocolate with Grace", has elevated the humble lemon bar to something almost swoon-worthy. There still is lemon, but she has added mango puree to the filling. These are absolute bliss! Trust me on this.

Questions & Answers

    © 2016 Linda Lum

    Comments

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      • Carb Diva profile image
        Author

        Linda Lum 22 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Brave warrior - It's beautiful, isn't it? My husband loves mango salsa, but you have to make it fresh. The stuff in the deli section at the grocery store just doesn't cut it. Thanks for stopping by.

      • bravewarrior profile image

        Shauna L Bowling 22 months ago from Central Florida

        I've always loved mangoes, even before they became the new kale. I seem to be drawn to the tropical fruits, like mango, guava, and papaya. The mango avocado summer salad looks delicious. I'll have to give that a try.

      • Carb Diva profile image
        Author

        Linda Lum 23 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Good morning Eric. I failed to go into detail on the varieties of mango. Do you have a preference? My daughter likes the honey (I think some people call them champagne) mangos. They tend to be smaller, sweeter, and less fibrous. Please let me know how the bars turn out. I have not made the recipe yet, but the photographs are amazing!

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 23 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        Marvelous. We have two in a bowl and one cut up in the fridge. The Thai desert with sticky sweat rice is a favorite. I will have these lemon bars before the end of the week. When we visit Southeast Asia it is a staple. Enough - time for me to go eat my morning slices.

      • Carb Diva profile image
        Author

        Linda Lum 23 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Vocalcoach - Thank you so much. So, you have a TJ's in your corner of the world also. I pity those who do not. Yes, I can always find something there--so many temptations. I'm waiting for them to hand out samples of the pickle-flavored popcorn.

        If I could pick mangos any time I want I would probably put them in everything. ...Wait, isn't that what I was complaining about at the start of this Hub?

      • vocalcoach profile image

        Audrey Hunt 23 months ago from Idyllwild Ca.

        T.J.s is not only the place to shop for healthy food at great prices...it's an experience. I always enjoy the free samples too. :). You've put together a remarkable hub about the mango. I like the video for cutting this delicious fruit too.

        During the years I spent living in Kauai I could step outside and pick mangoes all year long. I miss this luxury.

      • Carb Diva profile image
        Author

        Linda Lum 23 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Bill, you've got to live a little (more). Eating a mango (at least one time before you die) is something I sincerely feel you should put on your bucket list (hahaha). Try one of the salads. You'll kick yourself for having waited for so long.

        Have a great Monday Bill.

      • Carb Diva profile image
        Author

        Linda Lum 23 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Kristen - A mango smoothy sounds good right now. America's Test Kitchen is an amazing program--they explain the science behind our food and with much (exhaustive) testing find the perfect combinations.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 23 months ago from Olympia, WA

        I've never had one...sad but true! Perhaps you'll inspire me to actually eat a mango one of these days.

        Or not! LOL

        Happy Monday, Linda!

      • Kristen Howe profile image

        Kristen Howe 23 months ago from Northeast Ohio

        Great hub on mangoes, Carb Diva. I tried a mango this spring and it tasted good--perfect to add in smoothies, too. My mother watched America's Text Kitchen for many years up until when she did. Great recipes!

      • Carb Diva profile image
        Author

        Linda Lum 23 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Flourish - I don't think you need to worry about the safety of mangos, no matter where they are grown, if you do one simple thing. Before you cut into the flesh, wash that baby. Use soap and water if you are so inclined. Any contamination will be on the skin, not deep inside. Actually, I do that with all of my produce.

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 23 months ago from USA

        Kale replaced by mango and what will be the "it" fruit or vegetable next? I'm intrigued by those mango lemon bars and will give them a try! I do wonder about some of the safety of foods grown in other countries, especially Mexico. Their sanitation in the fields is not what we practice.

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