Article by: Beth Blessing

The mango tree is native to India and a relative of the pistachio and cashew.  It grows in tropical climates and can reach a height of 100 feet.  Each tree yields around 100 fruit.  There are over 1,000 different varieties of the mango, some of which are round, while others are oval or kidney shaped.

Mangoes have a thin smooth skin that can be greenish, yellowish, or reddish in color, often tinged with purple, pink, orange-yellow, or red.  The flesh is orange or orange-yellow, like that of a peach.  While mangoes are sometimes fibrous, the flesh of most varieties is smooth, buttery, sweet, and fragrant.  The flesh is wrapped around a large, flat stone found in the center.

The mango is an excellent source of vitamins A and C; it is also a good source of potassium.  They are low in fat, high in fiber, and packed with antioxidants.  Mangoes are listed as the healthiest fruit to eat.

The mango is delicious whether eaten on its own, in a fruit salad, or atop oatmeal.  It is a popular flavoring in yogurt, ice cream, and sorbet.  Mangoes are also made into jams, jellies, marmalades, compotes, and juice.

In Asia and the West Indies, it is not uncommon to eat unripe mangoes.  They are used both raw and cooked in a variety of dishes.  It is common to cook them like a vegetable to accompany meat or fish.  At peak ripeness, mangoes blend deliciously with ham, duck, poultry, pork, fish, and legumes.

Mangoes keep relatively well.  Unripe fruit can be left to ripen at room temperature; a fruit that is still green will ripen in a week, or faster if it is placed in a paper bag.  Mangoes taste best when eaten at peak ripeness.  Ripe mangoes can be kept in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 weeks.  Mangoes can be frozen, cooked in syrup or puréed; sugar and lime or lemon juice may be added if desired.