Mangoes are in season (if it’s June)
This week mangoes are on sale. June is mango harvest time, and I get excited to see piles of mangos balanced high in a produce bin. While tropical harvests can be four to six times a year depending on regions, I just remember the splendid June harvest in Hawaii. I stopped to peruse the pile when a man came up to me. He confessed he knew nothing about mangoes and asked if I could help him out.
“My girlfriend wants me to buy mangoes to put in smoothies. I know nothing about them or how to buy them.” He picked one up and turned it around in his hand.
And so I began my short discourse on mangoes.
Why I love mangoes
When I lived in Hawaii, a thick, abundant mango tree stood outside my bedroom. Every June, myna birds getting drunk on the dropped fruit, fermenting on the ground. I would go out and pick a mango for each meal, reveling in the sweet mellow freshness.
For weeks that tree would bear fruit, and I would come to know the scent, feel, and flavor of a tasty, ripe mango. Buying this tropical fruit in a grocery store far from the tropics is always a hit or miss purchase. So, if you end up making some bad mango buys, don’t give up. Follow a few tips and you will get lucky more often than not.
How to buy mangoes
Produce must go through a food irradiation process when being shipped over some borders. I am not convinced the irradiation does not affect the taste. A variety of reasons could affect the fruit that is staring at you in the grocery store. Picked too early could result in it not ripening at all. Accidental freezing during shipment could stop its ripening process, too.
Grocers never enjoy having their produce fondled, so I never encourage too much handling, except what you can get away with. The following are tips I use in discreet measure to choose good mangoes:
- Choose by color. I stay away from green mangoes, unless I want to use them in a cooking recipe. If this case, If you like the green ones for whatever reason, go for it. Personally, I have found the fruit with yellow and orange to be the sweetest. Often you’ll see red colored skin, but in my experience that doesn’t necessarily mean a better or worse tasting mango.
- Pick it up and sniff it. Pick it up tenderly, and don’t manhandle it. Remember, other people may want to buy that one if you do not.. If you can get even the faintest scent of flavor from smelling the skin, buy it.
- Don’t squeeze the fruit (too much). Squeezing fruit equates to manhandling. A tender touch can also tell the state of the mango. Is it firm in your hand? If it’s unusually soft, it could be very ripe, with a strong sweet smell, or bruised, with little or no smell. At any rate, treat it with respect, as you would with any fruit or vegetable.
I didn’t say this to the guy who stopped me, but I cannot stress too much on how important it is to respect the produce. Time and time again I’ve gone to the supermarket and seen shoppers standing in front of a display of something fresh, picking up, squeezing and tossing aside like a piece of trash. But I digress.
How to cut mangoes
I asked the man, who was now grinning from ear to ear, if he knew how to cut mangoes. He replied, “No, I don’t, but I have a feeling I’m gonna learn!” He said it with such happiness and excitement that I wished I had a knife and cutting board in my purse.
First off, there is no ‘wrong way’ to cut mangoes. Some people peel off the outer skin, then slice long slivers until they get to the pit. Sure, that works, if you need that style for a decorative salad for an iguana. My preference keeps my hands a bit cleaner, with no direct touch to the flesh. I chunk it out.
- Holding the mango on its side, cut from one edge lengthwise down to the core, bend the knife and cut around the core, to the other side. Flip and do the same on the other side. You can cut one edge flat to stand the fruit on, if you want the mango to sit steady on the cutting board.
- Take one half into the palm of your hand. Cut a grid of lines into the flesh. Scoop it out with a spoon.
- Discard the skin and the pit. You can scrape any extra fruit into the bowl of cut fruit, or bite off any remaining flesh. I recommend the latter, so you can make sure whether it’s sweet or not.
The man was bursting at this point. “Wow, who would’ve thought I’d learn so much just by asking. I asked the right person. You should write a mango how-to guide!”
I appreciated the gratitude, and the opportunity to be asked about something I love – mangoes. What a good idea. So, now I’m writing about mangoes. We’ll see what happens.
My favorite mango smoothie
So, here’s my latest mango smoothie recipe:
Serves 1-2 Servings
3 minPrep Time
2 minCook Time
5 minTotal Time
- ¾ cup cut mangoes, fresh or frozen
- 1 banana
- ¾ cup water
- 2 Tbsp. coconut cream or coconut milk
- 2-3 drops of vanilla extract
- 2 shakes of cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp. flaxseed
- your choice of greens – one leaf of kale or Swiss chard, lettuce, powdered greens, etc.
- Throw it all in a blender and give it a whirl. Include ice and/or frozen fruit if you like it cold and frothy. Sometimes I peel a banana, wrap it and freeze it for some cool smoothie action. In fact, I often do that with a lot of different fresh fruits, for fun use later.
Make any variations you like, and share them with us on social!