Exploring Mango: Not Just a Fad. Let Me Show You How to Use the Number One Fruit in the World
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.
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.
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?
--- 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
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
790,200 tons - 3 %
823,576 tons - 3.6 %
1,047,850 tons - 3.9 %
1,188,910 tons - 4 %
1,313,540 tons - 4.1 %
1,632,650 tons - 4.2 %
1,784,300 tons - 4.6 %
2,550,600 tons - 6.5 %
4,351,593 tons - 11.2 %
AND THE TOP PRODUCER IS
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:
And If You Want Some Entertainment While You Cook...
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?
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Add salted cashews just before serving.
- *I used McCormick--a blend of coriander, fenugreek, turmeric, cumin, black pepper, bay leaves, celery seed, nutmeg, cloves, onion, red pepper flakes, and ginger
Mango Feta Salad
Anyone can slice a mango, toss it into a bowl with a few assorted ingredients and call it a salad. Krissy of the blog "Pretty Wee Things" 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.
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.
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, 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".
- 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
- 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.
- Stir prepared jicama into lime/red pepper flake dressing. Let sit for 15 minutes.
- Fold prepared mango and orange into jicama/dressing mixture.
- Cover and chill for 1 hour.
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.
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© 2016 Linda Lum