How To Prepare A Fresh Mango To Eat And Enjoy

The sweet, juicy mango is considered the king of fruits for good reason. When ripe, a fresh mango is an unparalleled tropical delight. Its perfumed aroma, soft flesh, and rich flavor make mangoes a favored snack around the world. While often eaten out of hand, mangoes also shine when incorporated into salsas, chutneys, and other dishes. With some advance preparation, you can fully appreciate the eating experience that a fresh, ripe mango has to offer.

Selecting a Perfectly Ripe Mango

One of the keys to mango enjoyment is choosing a ripe, ready-to-eat specimen. Ripe mangoes yield slightly when gently squeezed but still feel firm. Avoid fruits with wrinkled skin, soft spots, or excessive bruising.

The skin color can range from orange and red to yellow and green depending on the variety. For example, the popular Ataulfo mangoes turn a deep golden color when ripe. The stem end of the mango should smell fragrant. An underripe mango will lack that sweet, fruity aroma.

Washing the Mango Properly

Once you’ve picked out your mango, give it a thorough washing. This removes any residual chemical residue while getting rid of dirt and debris. Gently scrub the mango under cool running water, patting it dry afterwards with a clean kitchen towel or paper towel. Avoid submerging the mango in standing water which can lead to premature spoilage.

Peeling a Mango for Eating Fresh

To access that sweet inner flesh, mangoes need to be peeled prior to eating. You have a couple options when peeling mangoes. For minimal mess, peel the mango over the sink. Or place a sheet of paper towel or newspaper down to catch any juice drips.

One easy peeling method is to stand the mango on its stem-end or bottom. Then, using a sharp knife, carefully cut away the skin starting from the top and slicing downward. Remove any remnants of skin sticking to the flesh. Be sure to keep your fingers clear of the knife’s path when removing the peel.

Alternatively, you can peel the mango with a vegetable peeler. Start peeling from the top and work your way down. This technique also lets you remove just a small portion of peel if you wish to incorporate some of the colorful skin for garnish.

Cutting a Mango into Pieces

Once peeled, a few different cutting techniques allow you to enjoy the fresh mango flesh:

1. Mango Cheeks

To free up the two cheeks or sides of flesh on either side of the flat seed, stand the peeled mango upright. Carefully make vertical cuts down both sides of the seed, separating the cheeks from it. Then, score the mango cheeks in a crisscross grid pattern without cutting through the skin. Use a spoon to scoop out mango cubes right from the skin.

2. Mango Spears

For spears, place the peeled mango on its side. Make vertical lengthwise slices, cutting around the central seed. Then turn the mango quarter and make horizontal slices to create long, thin spears.

3. Mango Slices

To simply slice the mango, lay the fruit on its wide side. While avoiding the seed, cut downwards to make slices of desired thickness. Repeat on the other side.

4. Mango Chunks

For chunks, stand the mango upright and make criss-cross vertical and horizontal cuts as you would for spears. The pieces will be more cubed rather than speared.

Dealing with the Mango Seed

That large, flattened oval seed at the mango’s center is technically the ‘endocarp’ which encloses the plant embryo. While not edible fresh, the seed is often dried and powdered to make amchoor which lends a tangy flavor to dishes. Otherwise, simply discard the fresh seed while prepping your mango.

Storing Cut Mangoes

Like most fruit, cut mangoes start losing their prime freshness fairly quickly. For best flavor and texture, plan to eat sliced mangoes soon after preparing. Leftovers should be refrigerated in an airtight container and enjoyed within 2-3 days. The exposed flesh will oxidize and begin to brown. Tossing the pieces in lime or lemon juice will help prevent browning.

Freezing Mangoes for Later Use

To extend their shelf life, you can freeze mango pieces for later use in shakes and smoothies. Start by peeling, seeding and cutting the mango into chunks. Spread them in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze solid, then transfer to freezer bags. Frozen mango will keep for up to 6 months.

Ripening an Underripe Mango

Finding ripe, ready-to-eat mangoes isn’t always possible. When faced with an underripe mango that’s still too firm, you can hasten the ripening process at home. Simply stash the mango in a paper bag along with an apple or banana. The ethylene gas naturally released by the fruits accelerates the ripening. Check daily and use once the mango’s aroma and softness indicates it’s ready.

Enjoying Mangoes Safely

Like many fruits, mangoes contain trace amounts of naturally occurring pesticides and urushiols that can cause skin and respiratory irritation in sensitive individuals. Handle mangoes carefully, peeling away from yourself, and washing hands and knife surfaces when prepping.

To revel in their rich tropical essence, allow mangoes to ripen fully before enjoying their lush texture and sunny flavors. With some thoughtful prep and storage, fresh mangoes can be a daily treat. Explore creative ways to incorporate mangoes into salsas, chutneys, smoothies, and other recipes. And don’t forget to relish a perfectly ripe mango au naturel to appreciate its glorious flavor. Follow these simple tips for selecting, prepping and savoring fresh mangoes.

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