Vegan Grandma

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Mango Salsa and Some Interesting Things About Mangoes

I found some ripe mangoes in the store. I had never prepared anything with mangoes, so I bought some to try. I made the following salsa recipe, and I liked it a lot. The recipe comes from Brilliant Food Tips and Cooking Tips, by David Joachim, published by Rodale, page 268.

Mango Salsa
makes about 3 cups

1/4 cup chopped sweet or red onion

1/4 cup lemon juice, lime juice, or orange juice (I like the lime juice best in this recipe.)

1/4 cup chopped, fresh cilantro

1 peeled, seeded and sliced ripe mango

1 finely chopped small red bell pepper

1 finely chopped fresh jajapeno chili pepper (remove seeds for less heat)

1 minced garlic clove

In a small bowl, stir together the onions, juice, and cilantro. Mix in the rest of the ingredients. This tastes even better after it sits for a few hours at room temperature (but not more than three hours. Refrigerate after three hours.)

Some Interesting Things About Mangoes

The mango (plural mangoes or mangos) is the most consumed fruit in the world. No one knows the exact origins of the mango but it appears that it is native to the Southern and Southeast Asian continent including India, Burma, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Fossil records were found there dating back 25 to 30 million years. Reference to mangoes as the "food of the gods" can be found in the Hindu Vedas.

Mango cultivars arrived in Florida in the 1830's and in California in the 1880's. Most of the mangoes sold in the United States, however, are imported from Mexico, Haiti, the Caribbean and South America.

The flavor of the mango is a blend of peach, pineapple, and apricot flavors, with a mixture of sweet and sour. The flesh of the ripe mango has a buttery texture surrounding a large, flat, inedible seed in the center. Mangoes are very juicy. The sweet taste and high water content make them refreshing to eat, but messy.

Other common names for the mango are mangot, manga, mangou.

The mango is a member of the Anachardiaceae family. Other distant relatives include the cashew, pistachio, Jamaica plum, poison ivy and poison oak.Urushiol, the irritating chemical in poison ivy and poison oak, is also found in mangoes, though much less than poison ivy and poison oak. Some people get dermatitis from touching mango peel or sap. People who have an allergic reaction after handling a mango can usuallystill eat the fruit if someone else first removes the skin. Although I am very susceptible to poison ivy, I didn't have a problem with the mangoes.

The mango fruit skin is not considered edible.

The leaves are toxic to cattle.

Burning of mango wood, leaves and debris is not advised - toxic fumes can cause serious irritation to eyes and lungs.

The sweet bell pepper (capsicum) was once known as mango in parts of the midwestern United States. Occasionally midwestern menus will still offer stuffed mangoes, meaning stuffed sweet bell peppers, as an entree.

The Mango tree plays a sacred role in India; it is a symbol of love and some believe that the Mango tree can grant wishes.

In the Hindu culture hanging fresh mango leaves outside the front door during Ponggol (Hindu New Year) and Deepavali is considered a blessing to the house.

Many Southeast Asian kings and nobles had their own mango groves; with private cultivars being sources of great pride and social standing.

In India, a certain shade of yellow dye was obtained by feeding cattle small amounts of mango leaves and collecting their urine. Since mango leaves are toxic and cattle are considered sacred, this practice has since been outlawed.

The mango is also a common motif in Indian textiles, known as the paisley design

There are many varieties of Mangoes. Mangoes come in many colors, shapes, and sizes . They can be oblong, round, or pear shaped. Colors may be pink, yellow, orange and red when ripe, and usually green when unripe, but this depends on the species. Some varieties are yellow to green when ripe. Mangoes can weigh up to 4 pounds. Mangoes sold in markets are usually not differentiated by variety, but are generally 4 to 5 inches long and weigh about 8 ounces. The Manila mango are a smaller, golden-yellow variety.

The texture of the flesh varies markedly between different cultivars; some have quite a soft and pulpy texture similar to an over-ripe plum, while others have a firmer flesh much like that of a cantaloupe or avocado, and in some cultivars the flesh can contain fibrous material.

Here are some of the most popular mango varieties:

TOMMY ATKINS MANGO: This mango is red-orange when ripe and yellow when rotten. The fruit is a regular oval, medium to large sized, 12 to 24 ounces, yellowish-orange with deep red to purple blush, thicker skinned, juicy but firm with medium fiber.

HADEN MANGO: The fruit is a regular oval, large, 16 - 24 ounces, yellow almost entirely washed over with an orange-red color, mild in flavor with a small amount of fiber.

ATAULFO MANGO: The fruit is a small, flat, oblong shape, 6 - 12 ounces, greenish yellow to deep golden when ripe; very sweet, rich in flavor and close to fiber free, with a smooth, buttery texture.

KEITT: Florida. The fruit is a large (20-26 oz.) ovate tapering with slight nose-like protuberance above its tip. It has a green to orange-yellow as it ripens; and a firm flesh with a piney sweetness and minimal fiber surrounding the seed area. A late fruiting mango, it is often available into fall.

Mangoes are an excellent source of vitamin A (about 20 times more than an orange) and a good source of vitamin C. They are low in fat and are rich in anti-oxidants, potassium and fiber. The vitamin content depends upon the variety and maturity of the fruit. One cup of fresh mango gives you about 184% of the Daily Value for vitamin A (and it's super rich in beta-carotene), and 61% of the Daily Value for vitamin C. When the mango is green the amount of vitamin C is higher, as it ripens the amount of beta carotene (vitamin A) increases.

Mangoes have a high sugar content.

Mangoes contain an enzyme with stomach soothing properties similar to papain found in papayas. These comforting enzymes act as a digestive aid.

Buying Mangoes

When choosing mangoes, press the stem end, hold it close to your nose and sniff. Fresh mangoes have a sweet, resinous scent. If there is no scent, there will be little flavor. A sour smell or a smell of alcohol means the mango is beginning to ferment and is past its prime. The mango should feel firm when held in the palm of your hand. The skin should be tight, not loose or wrinkled. Buy mangoes that give slightly when pressed. Check the area around the stem for plumpness and roundness. Avoid fruit that is very soft or bruised. A couple of black spots are acceptable as these indicate a very ripe mango (the riper ones are sweeter).

Color is not always a good indicator of ripeness. The most common mango varieties turn yellow as they ripen, but other varieties can be ripe when green or slightly yellow. Most varieties will have beautiful coloring blending from yellow to orange to red, but coloring is not always an indicator of maturity as there are some varieties that retain some green coloring.

Fresh mangoes average about 4 inches in length and can range from 9 ounces to 4 pounds in weight. The larger the fruit, the higher the fruit to seed ratio. The largest mangoes have the most juice. Mango season is typically from May through September, but many markets carry mangoes imported from warm climates year-round.

Mangoes are available in fresh, frozen, canned, and dried forms. Canned mango nectar is also available

Ripening and Storing

Mangoes with green areas will ripen in about a week at room temperature, or a bit faster in a paper bag, although completely green fruit may not. Check every day for ripeness. After they are fully ripe, mangoes keep a few days in the refrigerator.

Unripe mangoes should not be stored at temperatures below 55 degrees F., since these colder temperatures will cause chilling injury (uneven flesh ripening and off flavors). Mangoes are best left at room temperature. Refrigerate only soft, very ripe mangoes. Ripe mangoes may be refrigerated whole and unpeeled for 4-5 days. Peeled, sliced and covered fruit can be stored for 3 days in refrigerator.

Mangoes freeze well if they are very ripe. Peel, slice and package them in moisture-proof freezer bags or containers. They can also be pureed and frozen. Greener mangoes should be frozen with sugar or sugar syrup.

To freeze uncooked green mangoes, sprinkle sugar over the peeled, seeded, chopped fruit. Stir gently with a wooden spoon until the sugar dissolves in the fruit's own juices, making sure the pieces are coated. Seal in an airtight container leaving 1/2-inch airspace or in plastic freezer bags with all air squeezed out.

Using Mangoes

The mango is very versatile and can be used at any stage of maturity. Each variety is slightly different in flavor and other characteristics. Green or immature fruit is excellent for cooking as a sauce. Green mango slices may be substituted for any recipe calling for tart apples.

Green mango sauce or dry green mango powder can also be used as a tenderizer and substitute for MSG (monosodium glutamate).

Ripe mangoes can be enjoyed raw eaten out of hand or as a fresh fruit, dessert, salad or salsa. They are also used for chutney, preserves, and jams. One medium mango, 4 inches x 31/2 inches yields approximately 2 cups of prepared fruit.

Eat as-is with a spoon, or mix into breakfast cereal. Pieces can be frozen, made into juice, marmalade, compote, or pureed into sauces.

An average large mango will about 1-3/4 cups diced fruit.

Be careful, the juice will stain your clothing.

Mangoes are widely used in chutney, which in the West is often very sweet, but in the Indian subcontinent is usually sharpened with hot chiles or limes.

In India, ripe mango is often cut into thin layers, dried , folded, and then cut and sold as bars that are very chewy.

Mango is also used to make juices, both in ripe and unripe form.

Pieces of fruit can be mashed and used in ice cream; they can be substituted for peaches in a pie, or put in a blender with soy or rice milk, a little sugar, and crushed ice for a refreshing beverage.

In Thailand and other South East Asian countries, sweet glutinous rice is flavored with coconut then served with sliced mango on top as a dessert.

Use mangoes in mixed fruit salads, in stir-frys , or in mango muffins or mousse.

In many tropical countries, mangoes are peeled and sliced on an angle in a criss-cross fashion down to the seed and then served on a stick or a special mango fork, much like a popsicle or ice cream bar.

Ripe mangoes are extremely popular throughout Latin America. In Mexico, sliced mango is eaten with chili powder and/or salt. Street vendors sometimes sell whole mangoes on a stick, dipped in the chili-salt mixture. In Indonesia, green mango is sold by street vendors with sugar and salt and/or chili.

Half-ripe mangoes are best for cooking, as they hold their shape better. Mango chutneys often use half-ripe mangoes.

Unripe (green) mangoes are popular in many dishes from India, Thailand, and Malaysia. The flesh is tart rather than sweet. Green mangoes are usually available in Asian and Indian markets.

Filipinos eat tart green mangoes sprinkled with salt or soy sauce. In Thailand, green mango slices are dipped in chile powder, sugar and salt as a snack. Grated green mango is used throughout Southeast Asia, India and Malaysia to add a tart flavor to dishes, especially in salads, relishes or as pickles

Dried unripe mango used as a spice in India is known as amchur (sometimes spelled amchoor). Am is a Hindi word for Mango.

In Guatemala, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Honduras, vendors sell slices of peeled green mango on the streets, often served with salt.

In Hawaii green mangoes are often pickled.

Mangoes are delicious as is, in all sorts of salads, in salsas and chutneys, or tarts and cakes. You can even grill fresh mango.

Mangoes are good chilled two hours before serving them.

Mango juice tastes good combined with other fruit juices. Remove skin and pit before juicing

Dried mangoes must be rehydrated in warm water for about four hours before adding to your recipe.

If you can't find mangoes, try substituting peaches or nectarines in recipes.

Wash mangoes carefully in cool water before using.

Mangoes should always be peeled before using.

If the fruit is too ripe to cut without making a mess, roll the fruit in your hands or on a hard surface, until it is extremely soft, slice off the stem end and squeeze the juice into a glass, a container or right into your mouth.

To slice a mango

1. With a sharp thin-bladed knife, cut off both ends of the fruit.

2. Place fruit on flat end and cut away peel from top to bottom along curvature of the fruit.

3. Cut fruit into slices by carving lengthwise along the pit.

To Cube a Mango

1. Cut both "cheeks" of the fruit from the pit.

2. Cut ½" squares by scoring mango with a sharp knife. Do not cut through skin.

3. Turn mango half "inside out," separating cubes. Slice off squares with a knife.


Brilliant Food Tips and Cooking Tips, by David Joachim, published by Rodale

World Vegetarian, by Madhur Jeffrey, published by Clarkson Potter Publishers, New York


  • At 9:00 PM, Blogger Firefox said…

    What a wonderful comprehensive blog! I found it searching for gobo recipes. I especially love all the fruit facts.



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