Mangoes range greatly in size, measuring anywhere from 5 to 30 centimeters in length, and weighing from 4 ounces up to 5 pounds. They have leathery, smooth skin, and they can vary in shape from long and slender, to kidney-shaped, or even somewhat round. Their skin is multi-colored with different blends of red, yellow and green, depending on the variety. The succulent, vibrant yellow to orange flesh is aromatic and juicy, with a texture similar to a peach. The flavor is complex and sweet, with notes of peach, coconut, and vanilla or caramel, and is sometimes balanced with a slight tartness. The skin of Mangoes is inedible, and actually contains a sap that can be irritating to some people.
Mangoes are a good source of fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and potassium. They also contain natural enzymes that assist in breaking down proteins.
Mangoes can be used in both raw and cooked applications. Just like an avocado, a ripe Mango will give slightly to pressure. Note that the skin doesn’t always indicate ripeness due to the variations in color among varieties. Mangoes are a popular ingredient for fresh salsas and chutneys, and are widely used in desserts and baked goods. Use Mangoes to flavor ice cream and gelato, blend or juice for smoothies and other drinks, or slice and dry for a naturally sweet snack. Mangoes contain natural enzymes that help break down proteins, and hence are commonly used in marinades to tenderize meats, like pork. In India, Mango is pureed and mixed with milk or cream and used as a dipping sauce for a type of baked pastry similar to a donut hole. In Thailand, it is used for Mango sticky rice, a traditional dessert made with rice, fresh Mango and coconut milk. The sweet-tart flavor of Mangoes compliments rich, creamy cheeses, and also balances the heat of smoky dishes, pairing well with jalapeno or chile. Mangoes can also be paired with other tropical fruits, apples, berries, citrus, melon and coconut, as well as flavors like vanilla, cinnamon, and caramel. Mangoes that are still firm will continue to ripen if stored at room temperature. Once fully ripe, they can be stored in the refrigerator for about 5 days.