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The Origins and the Preservation of Mangoes

September 10, 1987|JOAN DRAKE | Times Staff Writer

Question: Please give me information on mangoes. I love them and eat three a day. How many calories do they have? How can I preserve them?

Answer: In "Uncommon Fruits & Vegetables--A Commonsense Guide" (Harper & Row) author Elizabeth Schneider gives the following information on mangoes:

"Florida mangoes are in season during the summer. The imports have a much longer season, beginning in January (with the flat, elongated, yellow Haitian mango) and continuing through the fall. Select full, firm, part-ripe fruit that shows some yellow or red (except for the Keitt, which remains green when ripe). Full-ripe fruit will be almost as tender as avocado. Whether partly or fully ripe, the skin should be taut. Stay away from mangoes with soft spots or that look flabby, with skin appearing too large for the pulp.

"Most important in determining ripeness or potential quality is the aroma. Sniff the stem end: there should be a pleasant scent, no matter how light. No perfume usually means no flavor. If the smell is slightly alcoholic or sour, reject the fruit, which has begun fermenting.

"To ripen greenish fruit, keep at room temperature until tender and aromatic. Chill briefly before serving or up to a few days if you must hold the fruit. Mangoes do not do well in the cold.

"To freeze, cube the flesh, puree in a processor, then press through a sieve. Add lime juice and sugar, if desired. Pack in small containers and freeze for months. Figure that the cup yield will be roughly the same as poundage.

"Preparation: Do not try to halve a mango, then twist apart the two parts like an avocado, as a number of recipe books direct. You'll wind up with mango puree and skin. For this most clingstone and clingpeel of fruits, the following method for isolating the flesh is most reliable.

"To Peel and Cube Mango: Set mango stem end up with narrow side facing you. Make vertical slices about a half inch to right of stem so it barely clears the long, flat, narrow stone that runs almost the length of the fruit. Do same on the other side. Pare skin from seed section, then cut off flesh from seed.

"With butter knife, score flesh of each half in squares of desired size, cutting to but not through the skin. Press skin so cut side pops outward, hand grenade-like (also called hedgehog fashion). Slice cubes from skin.

"To Slice: Divide fruit in seedless halves, as above. Slip paring knife under skin of cut half. Slowly carve out flesh in single piece, cutting as close to skin as possible. Slice these hemispheres (more or less) to suit.

"For large, plump mangoes this slicing method works best: Holding the whole mango cradled in your palm, with a very sharp knife score the skin of the upturned half in lengthwise quarters. Gently pull the skin off. Cut the exposed flesh in slices, cutting each from the seed as closely as possible (still resting the mango in your hand). Do the same to the other side, which is going to be a bit trickier, but it does work.

"Note: Mangoes belong to the Anacardiaceae or cashew family, which includes such irritants as poison ivy and poison oak." Touching the unpeeled fruit may seriously swell and blister the skin of some allergic people, . . . "although eating the ripe fruit (the green can be harmful) may not bother these same individuals.

"Nutritional Highlights: Mango is a superior source of vitamins A and C and a very good source of potassium. It is low in sodium and high in fiber. One medium fruit contains about 135 calories, which is moderately high."

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