You've heard of fall, winter, spring, and summer. What about mango? Oh, it's a season all right—at Trader Joe's. We imagined this fruitful period in celebration of a drupe that has captivated our creative juices and our culinary exploits—MANGO!
With a heady aroma; soft, juicy flesh (that can almost be custard-like); and rich, sweet flavor with sometimes tart (à la lemon) undertones—Mango is nothing short of tantalizing. Gastronomically speaking, it’s quite versatile, serving very well in both sweet & savory applications.
We're crushing big time on the magnificent Mangifera. You need only to look around your local store to experience the mangoptions (we couldn't resist) resulting from our ardor: Mango Chili Chicken, Mango O’s, Mango Brooklyn Babka, Mango Lemonade, Just MANGO…TASTE IT! Really, if you are the least bit curious about any product available for this limited mangocentric term, we urge you to ask our Crew if you can try it. You like it? Great! You don't? What an adventure!
Focusing on the fruit that fueled this frenzy, following is a Mango-fication, of sorts:
Apple, banana, orange—oh, no—the Mango bears the crowning title "King of Fruit." It is the most extensively enjoyed fruit across the globe, and that's quite a feat. We can't verify it, but we've read that for every one apple eaten, ten mangoes are devoured. While that puts its popularity in perspective, we are certainly not trying to compare apples to mangoes. In fact, we think it's way more interesting to compare mangoes to mangoes. There exist hundreds of mango cultivars worldwide, with fascinating variation—size, texture, color—between mango varieties. See for yourself. Following are seven mangoes you might experience in Trader Joe's products:
Taste: rich, sweet, creamy
Texture: smooth, firm flesh with no fibers
Color: golden yellow skin, deep yellow flesh
Primary Growing Region: Mexico
of Note: the pit is small, so there is high flesh-to-seed ratio
2. TOMMY ATKINS
Taste: bright, mildly piquant, sweet
Texture: firm flesh with medium-high fibers
Color: red-orange blush over most of mango with green and orange-yellow accents
Primary Growing Region: Mexico, Guatemala, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru
of Note: originally from Florida, this is one of the most popular varieties in the US due to its sturdy profile
Taste: strikingly aromatic with rich sweetness
Texture: firm flesh with fine fibers
Color: bright red with green and yellow overtones and small white dots
Primary Growing Region: Mexico
of Note: likely the result of a cross between 'Mulgoba' and a 'Turpentine' mango; the first cultivar selected and named in Florida
Taste: very sweet, aromatic
Texture: juicy, tender, minimal fibers
Color: greenish-yellowish, with some dark red blush
Primary Growing Region: Mexico, Ecuador, Peru
of Note: ideal for juicing and drying
Taste: tropical notes punctuated with sharp sweetness
Texture: rich, creamy, limited fibers
Color: bright saffron/golden yellow with tinge of red
Primary Growing Region: western India
of Note: known as the "King of Mango" (so, King2)
6. CHOK ANAN
Taste: sweet, tropical (almost coconutty) flavor
Texture: firm, minimal fiber
Color: light yellow
Primary Growing Region: northern Thailand
of Note: coveted primarily for the juice and pulp
Taste: intense, rich
Texture: smooth, velvety
Color: red with a yellow blush
Primary Growing Region: Peru
of Note: aka "honey mango," because it is very sweet; and the "miracle mango" because it often fruits twice a year (summer and winter)
image not to scale
Reach Out and Touch A Mango
You've got to get your hands on a mango! Yes, it's the peak season for this phenomenal fruit, but to pick one that delivers on its renown, you actually have to touch it. Following are some tactile tactics for assessing and achieving mango ripeness:
PICKING, RIPENING & STORING
> Pick up a mango and gently squeeze it. A ripe mango will give slightly (think peaches or avocados).
> Smell the mango at the stem; ripe mangoes generally have a fragrant, sweet, and fruity aroma. (If the aroma is sour, then it's likely a sign of being overripe.)
> If you pick a very firm mango, leave it on the counter at room temperature for a couple of days to allow it to ripen. (If it's especially hot, keep a closer eye on it—ripening can be accelerated by heat.)
> Super eager to enjoy your mango? Place it in a paper bag overnight with another piece of fruit that emits high levels of ethylene gas, like an apple.
> Your mango's ripe, but you're not ready? No problem. Put it in the refrigerator for up to a few days to maintain its state of beauty. (Just as the heat speeds up the repining process, the cold will slow it.)
Getting the Most from Your Mango
Mangoes are drupes—fruit in which the outer layer of the ovary wall (exocarp) is a thin skin, the middle layer (mesocarp) is thick and generally fleshy, and the inner layer (endocarp), also known as the pit, is hard and stony. Beyond being interesting, in a let's-geek-out sense, understanding the basic anatomy of the fruit informs a savvy cutting strategy. The below illustration & instruction details "hedgehogging," a very effective and fun way to get the most fruit from your mango.
1. Slice off the cheeks:
Place the mango on a cutting board, lenghtwise with the stem ("eye") facing away from you. Position your chef knife to one side of the center stem and slice down, hugging the flat of the seed as closely as possible.
Turn the mango and slice off the other "cheek." You will have two big pieces of mango and the flat seed.
Cut the remaining pulp along the pit, or just eat it straight from the seed.
2. Score the cheeks:
Hold one of the mango cheeks in the palm of your hand or upright on the cutting board. Using your paring knife, make parallel cuts down the length of the mango without slicing through the skin. Repeat with perpendicular cuts to form cubes. (Repeat with the other cheek.)
3. Hedgehog the mango:
Hold the cheek with two hands, placing your thumbs on the pulp-side at each end. With the index and middle fingers push the skin upward, so that the pulp lifts up, resembling the quills on a cartoon hedgehog.
4. De-hedge the mango:
Run the paring knife under the base of the cubes to release the fresh, juicy chunks of mango.
What You Get from 1 Cup (165g) of Mango
100% daily value for Vitamin C
35% daily value for Vitamin A
10% daily value for Fiber
8% daily value for Potassium
Making the Most of Your Mango
Fresh, just-cut-from-the-fruit mango is the next best thing to laughter and sunshine. Enjoy it with a splash of lime juice and a sprinkling of our Chile Lime Seasoning (yes!) or play with it in sweet or savory servings. There are many manners to make the most of your mango; following are a few preparations to get your mangostronomic juices flowing:
Sweet, creamy pudding; crunchy granola with a nutty-ginger bite; fresh, juicy mango; bittersweet, tangy berries; sesame honey cashews – layers that lead your mouth through the looking glass (apologies, Mr. Carroll).
May your MANGO be sunny & bright!
NOTE: Since posting, the details of this item may have changed due to fluctuating market prices, federal regulations, currency rates, drought, pestilence, bandits, rush hour traffic, filibusters, clowns, zombie apocalypse, punctilious product developers... Contact our Crew for current price and availability.