Nothing says welcome to the tropics like fresh mangoes. One bite into this buttery, tangy-sweet fruit and you’ll be transported to a palm tree-lined beach, the waves lapping the shoreline and a warm, salty breeze. Mango adds a burst of tropical brightness to any dish, whether it’s balancing a spicy Tandoori chicken or paired with pineapple and coconut.
Luckily for you, mangoes are available all year long. They have two seasons, one in the spring and summer, and one in the fall and winter. The only difference between the two seasons is where the fruit grow. In the spring and summer, they flourish in Mexico, but in the fall and winter they have better luck in Peru and Brazil. Mangoes are also native to Florida and other tropical environments near the equator.
But how do you tell if a mango is ripe for eating? The fruit itself can appear many different colors, and although this may seem like an indication of ripeness, it means nothing. To tell if a mango is ready to eat, give it a gentle squeeze. If it gives under the pressure, it’s ripe. If it’s firm, it needs some more time to ripen at room temperature. If you want your mangoes to ripen faster, put them in a paper bag at room temperature. The fruit will release a natural gas called ethylene, which will speed up the ripening process. However, you should avoid closing the bag completely because too much ethylene can cause the fruit to spoil.
Best of all, this versatile fruit has an array of health benefits. Mangoes contain antioxidant compounds that can reduce the risk of colon, breast, leukemia, and prostate cancers. They can also lower cholesterol, clear your skin, and improve your immune system and digestion. Plus, they’re full of vitamins and nutrients and low in calories. One cup of mango contains 76 percent of your daily vitamin C requirement, and only 105 calories.
So sit back, relax, and enjoy these unique ways to use mango in every meal.