Mangos: picking, selecting, storing
24 Oct 2013 09.53 am by Renny Wijeyamohan
Mangos are one of nature’s classic summer fruits. Their sweet aroma, soft orange flesh and delicious taste have made them a cornerstone of many desserts – particularly in South East Asia. They are high in Vitamin A and Vitamin C and can be eaten fresh, cooked or dried into a tasty treat on the go.
To pick a mango from a tree, first make sure it is fairly ripe. Then grasp the mango near the stem and gently pull and twist. A ripe mango should fall away from the tree easily. You can also use a knife for a cleaner cut and to avoid damaging the fruit.
For higher fruit (mango trees can be tall) use a mango picking stick. Tracey Robb from tropical North Queensland recommends a stick that is about 4 to 6 metres in length (approx. 12 to 18 feet) with a wire loop to grasp and pull the fruit and a fabric net attached to slow the fruit’s descent to the ground. “You need a loop of strong wire large enough to fit easily around the biggest mango with a kink in the far end to trap the stem,” says Robb, “Around this loop of wire you sew a narrow, stretchy tube of fabric a metre or so longer than the pole. When you pull on the mango, it snaps off, slides down the chute, and lands gently on the ground as the fabric slows it down.”
When selecting a mango it’s best not to focus on colour. There are many varieties of mangos and they colours they display throughout the growing process are not consistent between types. Some mango varieties remain naturally green when they are ripe, while others will display a red colour when they are still maturing. Shape is important though. Look for mangos that are full and round. Small or flat mangos can yield stringy flesh.
When choosing, go with what you can sense by touch. Squeeze the mango gently – if it is ripe it should give a little – just like an avocado [hyperlink to Avocados article]. If your mango is too soft, it will bruise easily. And if you’re squeezing a mango from the supermarket, it may have already been bruised by other shoppers rummaging around in the produce cart. If you’re unsure about how soft a mango should be, pick a slightly firmer one. Remember that you can always let it ripen for a few days before eating it at home, whereas an overripe soft mango will have to be consumed immediately.
Smell is also a useful indicator for mango ripeness. Sniff the rounded stem end of the mango. A mango that is ready to eat should give off a pleasant fruity aroma.
A ripe mango will expire quickly so make sure you eat it within a day or so if you intend to leave it in a fruit bowl or on the kitchen counter. If you refrigerate a mango it should last between 2 and 5 days, while freezing a mango can extend its lifespan of between 6 and 12 months. Frozen mango is great for use in fruit salads, smoothies or to garnish a hot bowl of porridge. If you know you won’t be eating your mango for a few days choose a firmer one and let it ripen naturally. To speed up the ripening process place the mango in a paper bag or in a fruit bowl with ethylene producing fruit like bananas or apples.
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