Inspired by conversations on the Food52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun.
Today: 2 ways to prep one of the trickiest tropical fruits.
We learned two principal things in last year's New York Times piece on mangoes. First, that they were in season. (It ran in June.) And second, that they're a very, very big deal in India. There, mangoes are a status symbol, more like a rare gem than a fruit. They're an over-used trope in novels, they're the namesake and hero of movies. They're a season.
In our culture, spring and summer and fall and winter trump mango, but they shouldn't. Everyone has a mango season -- right now is ours.
What to Look For
You have just a few months from early April to catch the King of Fruits while they're in their peak season, so pick them often, and pick them well. Look for mangoes that give slightly to gentle pressure, much like an avocado would, or a ripe peach. Ripe mangoes will have a full, fruity aroma, too, and color (that bleeding red hue that appears on some fruits) has nothing to do with ripeness -- always judge by feel and smell.
If your mangoes aren't quite there yet, put them in a paper bag at room temperature, and wait. Patiently.
How to Prep
Once they're ripe, in hand, and you want to eat them, wash them. (This may sound odd, but anything on the outer skins will make its way inside the moment you cut.) Then, you have two options.
1. The Hedgehog
Start by cutting each of the larger sides off of a ripe mango. (Do this by making a lengthwise cut just slightly off-center, so you miss the mango's core.)
Then, holding one half in your hand at a time, make lengthwise cuts through the flesh -- but not through the skin.
Repeat, until you make your way across the body of the mango, making the cuts as close together as you want your eventual pieces to be. Then switch to widthwise; you're making a crosshatch pattern.
Once it looks like this, you're ready for the best part.
Pressing up from the skin-side of the mango, invert the flesh -- perfect cubes will magically appear.
Slice them off, and they're ready to eat!
2. The Peel and Slice
This method might be a little slippery, but it works just as well. Here, you'll just peel the entire fruit like you would a potato.
And then slice off your pieces just around the core. Alternately, you can slice the fruit with its peel intact, and then just peel each individual piece. You can freeze mango as soon as it's peeled and cubed, instead of just eating it, but why would you want to do that?
Photos by James Ransom