All about mangos: How to choose, eat and cook with this succulent fruit
Sinking our teeth into summer's juiciest import
If you're not already familiar with the names Badami, Chaunsa, Julie, Sindhri, and Alphonso, it's time to get acquainted. With mango season in full swing in the warmer parts of the world, we'll find imports of this creamy, sweet, oblong fruit (like the ones listed) in stores across Canada. And with the season starting in spring, intensifying in May and June, and continuing for many varieties until early fall, we are spoiled for choice for a good portion of the year, with mangos from India, Jamaica, Pakistan, and the Philippines, among others.
There are countless varieties of mangoes grown around the world, with more than 1,000 varieties cultivated in India alone. Some of the most aromatic ones are the Alphonso (from India) and the Chaunsa and Sindhri (from Pakistan). These mangos are slightly different than the red-green ombre varietal known as the Tommy Atkins, which you find at Canadian grocery stores almost year round. Tommy Atkins ship well, and have a long shelf life, but they lack the floral fragrance and sweet depth of some of the other seasonal imports.
So, now that you know what to seek out, here are a few tips for selecting, sourcing, preparing and enjoying fragrant, juicy mangos this summer.
How to select
The skin of a ripe mango can range from a parrot-green to an apricot-yellow. The colour of the skin of a mango is not necessarily uniform; it will vary depending on the variety. Steer clear of mangos that have bruised or wrinkled skin and are too soft. A ripe mango will be firm, but will give a little when gently pressed. The best way to choose a mango is by trusting your senses: simply smell it. Let the intense fragrance of this sweet and tart fruit be your guide.
Where to find
You can find these oblong beauties adorning the baskets at your local supermarket or Chinese, Indian, Peruvian or Pakistani grocery stores, among others. Over the past few years, new varieties are being imported from India and Pakistan, indicative of the demand and diversity of the growing Canadian population. A box of 4 Chaunsa mangos can set you back $15-20, depending on where in Canada you are. Consider the price reflective of the reward — as soon as you get a hit of that honey and apricot aroma, you will eat your saffron-hued mango in just one sitting.
How to eat
Mango skin must be discarded. Cut along the broad side of the fruit, from the stem to the tip, slicing down and along the side of the curved pit. Repeat on both sides. Eat the flesh hand to mouth, or with a spoon. Cut away the rest of the flesh with your knife, or enjoy eating it straight off the pit. Just make sure you have a plate under your chin, as the mango is very succulent and the nectar will drip!
What to make
The mango is a versatile fruit. Though it is often enjoyed in its natural, raw state, mangos can be prepared in several different ways, as an ingredient for both savoury and sweet dishes. It can be pureed to a pulp, and whirled into a cooling lassi or spooned into your champagne-spiked summer cocktail; it can be thinly sliced and baked into a cardamom-spiced cake; or you can dice it up for a salsa, tossed with shallots, jalapenos and lime, to enjoy alongside your grilled fish. Or try it in my recipe — here! — for a hearty and mostly make-ahead salad you can enjoy all season long.