This story initially featured on Saveur.
One morning I woke as much as my mother shouting, “What are you doing in our mango tree?” Mid-bite, a younger man, who had a burlap sack laden with mangoes, responded, “Effectively, Miss, you not consuming them quick sufficient, and if I don’t eat them, they go to waste!” That day my mother and father and I confirmed him—and anybody else judging the velocity with which we ate our mangoes—that the Grays had been to not be examined.
Within the continental US, sure, summer season is related to peaches, berries, corn, and tomatoes, but it surely’s additionally peak mango season, which falls between Could and September. In Jamaica, folks go berserk right now of yr. It’s not unusual to discover a stranger in your tree or have passersby knock at your gate asking if they’ll are available and choose a few of your fruit. Throughout their morning walks, retired people assist themselves to any fruit hanging over non-public fences into the widespread sidewalk or avenue. Even in case you have a mango tree or three (like my household did), you all the time settle for somebody’s present of a dozen or extra of the fleshy tropical fruit. There’s even a Jamaican people track known as “Mango Time” that extols this peak season.
For millennia, Indian music, literature, and visible artwork have glorified mangoes. Actually, the tropical fruit, which is talked about in Sanskrit texts over 5,000 years outdated, possible originated in India, although it has since unfold all through different elements of the world, together with Africa, elsewhere in Asia, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. In Jamaica, we imagine there’s no such factor as having “too many mangoes,” though extra just lately, now we have begun to see the worth in sharing this prized fruit with the surface world.
Choosing the right mango
Based on Jamaica’s Ministry of Agriculture, the island offered roughly 100,000 kilos of mangoes to the US between January and October 2020. This can be a drop within the basket (see what I did there?) of the whole quantity offered within the US. Mangoes are such a seasonal treasure in Jamaica that some locals choose to maintain each little bit of the annual crop for themselves. However as many within the Caribbean islands have just lately discovered that tourism can’t be the one income, mangoes could turn out to be a prized worth crop for the area. Till then, I’m fortunate to have the ability to have my fill of juicy, candy mangoes on daily basis. Generally twice a day. Now I’m simply rubbing it in.
In Jamaica alone, we’re blessed with over two dozen types of mango. Globally, there are much more—the truth is, there are over 500 named varieties of the fruit. Debates abound about which is the most effective; that is an argument that may by no means be gained. Some prize the run-down-the-chin juiciness of the Alphonso. Others, together with my mother, love the candy stringiness of the tiny Quantity 11 or Saint Julian (Julie). I personally love meaty mangoes just like the Bombay, East Indian, and Tommy Atkins, the latter of which is the commonest and available within the States.
Choosing the proper sort and ripeness relies upon much less on varietal avenue cred and extra on what you propose to do with the fruit. If you’re going to eat it by itself, go for full-flavored, candy varieties like Alphonso, St. Julian, or Chausa/Chaunsa. Planning to mix the flesh right into a beverage like mango lassi, or chop it right into a salsa or chutney? In that case, a meaty, tart Tommy Atkins or Bombay will suffice.
The colour of a mango’s pores and skin doesn’t essentially point out ripeness. Tommy Atkins are almost all the time pink and plummy, whereas even an unripe Ataulfo’s pores and skin would make Massive Chicken envious with its shiny yellow glow. As a substitute of judging by look, choose a mango as you’d a peach or nectarine. The flesh ought to give barely when squeezed, and while you take a sniff, the aroma must be unmistakable—someplace between melon, pineapple, and really ripe peaches. This perfume ought to unlock one thing thrilling inside you, like a tropical escape.
Some dishes and condiments require younger (“inexperienced”) mangoes, or these that aren’t but totally ripe (in Jamaica, we name these half-ripe fruit “turned”). For such recipes, go for these meatier varieties I discussed above which are simpler to peel when inexperienced. However be warned: the sap from inexperienced mangoes may cause a chemical burn on delicate pores and skin. To keep away from irritation, put on gloves when cleansing and reducing the fruit.
Find out how to minimize a mango
In the event you can’t minimize an avocado, then don’t try to chop a mango. Simply hand over, transfer on, and purchase a bag of the frozen stuff. In the event you want to imitate an islander, you should use your enamel to chew into the pores and skin of a totally washed ripe mango and pull the peel downwards. However in the event you can wield a knife with out extra grownup supervision, right here goes.
Sure varieties (notably the Bombay) have a spherical “freestone” seed relatively than a flat, elongated one. In these circumstances, you possibly can halve the mango horizontally, twist the 2 ends aside, take away the seed, and scoop out the flesh.
Nonetheless, for many different varieties, the simplest way to chop a mango—and the way I do it, a lot to my mother and father’ chagrin—is to chop off either side of the fruit lengthwise (“stem to nostril”), leaving the center with the seed behind. Rating the flesh of every of the 2 “halves” into cubes, then use a spoon to scoop the fruit out. However don’t throw away the fruit surrounding the seed! Minimize away any remaining flesh, take away and discard the peel, and slice, or chop the flesh into cubes.
The easiest way to retailer mangoes is in a bowl on the counter. In the event you’re sluggish to devour them and darkish spots seem, solely then do you have to put them within the fridge.
If you wish to retailer inexperienced mangoes, peel and slice, then toss the flesh in recent lime juice earlier than freezing to forestall oxidation.
And to make sure you have scrumptious, ripe mangoes via the winter, fill up throughout peak season. Peel and dice the fruit, pack into heavy-duty zip-top luggage, and retailer within the freezer. In my expertise, and that of my mom, frozen mangoes hold effectively for as much as a yr.
Head over to Saveur for refreshing mango recipes.