Mangoes and the 3 Best Ways to Enjoy Them in the Winter

January 18, 2014

Every week we get Down & Dirty, in which we break down our favorite unique seasonal fruits, vegetables, and more. 

Today: We’re escaping winter this month -- in our kitchen at least -- and exploring tropical fruits. Next up, the mango.

Mangoes and the 3 Best Ways to Enjoy Them in the Winter

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We do grow some mangoes in the U.S., but most of what you’ll find in the grocery store has been imported from another country, and depending on the country, peak season is either in the spring and summer, or the fall and winter. Those seasons overlap -- meaning you can eat mangoes practically year-round. However, unless you’re lucky enough to live someplace where mangoes are grown, what you won’t be doing is eating a large variety of different types of mangoes. We see a limited number of the hundreds of varieties of this fruit, and unlike say, apples, the varieties are rarely labeled, so it can be hard to know what type you’re getting. (The safe bet is Tommy Atkins -- it’s the most common.)

The mango belongs to a family of plants which includes poison ivy, poison sumac, and poison oak, which might seem strange -- unless you’re already familiar with the fact that the oils in mango sap, leaves, stems, and even their skin (2, below) can be seriously irritating for susceptible individuals. If you have history of bad reactions to poison ivy, you could be at greater risk, so take precautions when handling mangoes.

More: Another plant that might rub you the wrong way? Horseradish.

Mangoes and the 3 Best Ways to Enjoy Them in the Winter

Like some other tropical fruits, mangoes aren’t fond of the cold. They should only go in the refrigerator if they’re fully ripe and you know you aren’t going to get to them for a day or two. If, on the other hand, you need your mango to ripen faster, grab some rice. Not sure how to pick and prep this tricky tropical fruit? We've got you covered. We’re partial to the hedgehog method (1), because hedgehogs are insanely cute, and we like our fruit that way too. 

The mango's tropical taste and smooth texture lends itself perfectly to cold soups, icy drinks, and frozen treats. But when the weather has us feeling like popsicles, we turn to mango dishes that are a little less chill-inducing.

Quinoa and Mango SaladMango Souffles

In a Savory Salad
We've said it before, and we'll say it again: Stop relegating fruits to the fruit salad bowl. Bulk up a mango salad with bulgurquinoa, or rice noodles. Keep it simple with a mango slaw, or enjoy mangoes paired with fennel and fennel frond pesto. Try a chopped salad packed with apples, pears, mango, hazelnuts, and pomegranates. 

In a Dessert Designed to Warm You Up
Try brown buttered mangoes foster, a grilled mango sundae, a flaming mango dessert, or rum-spiked roasted caramelized mango. We’re getting warmer already. (The booze probably doesn’t hurt.) For slightly tamer (but no less tasty) mango desserts, go for mango soufflés or dark chocolate bark with chile-spiced mangoes.

Spicy Shrimp Tortillitas with Mango MayonnaiseGlazed Five Spice Burger with Gingery Mangoes

As a Condiment
Take your favorite condiment and then mango-fy it in a mango mustard, mango ketchup, mango mayonnaise, or a mango relish. Use a mango sauce with cardamom and saffron on yogurt or oatmeal, or try this dressing on your salad. Go for mango guacamole, mango pickles, or top a hamburger with a pile of gingery mangoes.

Partial to pickles? Fun fact: For a time, “mango” used to refer to any pickled dish -- one more thing to thank those sailors in Colonial America for -- and even became used as a verb (meaning “to pickle”) in the early 18th century.

Let's bring it back -- tell us what your favorite item "to mango" is in the comments. (Hey, you never know, it could work. After all, it seems like fetch might finally be happening…)

Spicy Shrimp Tortillitas with Mango Mayonnaise photo by QueenSashy, all other photos by James Ransom

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • JNA India
    JNA India
  • tastysweet
  • laura
  • boulangere
  • amysarah
I like esoteric facts about vegetables. Author of the IACP Award-nominated cookbook, Cooking with Scraps.


JNA I. May 15, 2018
Nice Article on Indian Mango. India is ready for its new mango crop in 2018.
tastysweet January 19, 2014
When the mangos go on sale, like this week(1-19/14) they are $1.00 each, I peel them and chop them up, out them in the food processor and purée them with either a bit of brown sugar or honey and cinnamon. Then put them in those silicon ice cube trays and freeze. When frozen, pop them out and put in to baggies. Use as you wish. I like them in smoothies. I also put one in my oatmeal when I am cooking it, along with other frozen fruit I have on hand and then cook in microwave. Really good.
laura January 19, 2014
Mangoes are wonderful in barbecue sauce! I have a ribs recipe with a five-spice rub and mango barbecue sauce that's great for game day:
boulangere January 18, 2014
When I think mangos, this is what comes to mind:
amysarah January 18, 2014
I'm a little obsessed with mangoes. Also, prosciutto with melon or figs. In the winter, ripe pear goes well with prosciutto, but less predictably, so does mango. On its own, in a salad...unexpected combination, but really good.