Mango - The King Of Fruit

If I were to hold a contest for Best Fruit, I'd make sure peaches, nectarines, and cherries all competed. I'd consider a drippy-ripe Comice pear as a candidate. There are even pineapples I'd make a case for. But at the end of the day, the victor would have to be the mango.

If you don't think mangoes are the King of Fruit, then chances are you've been eating mediocre ones. Because mangoes are grown in the tropics, the travel-worthy ones are selected not for their taste but for their hardiness. And even the hardy ones may be a little worse for wear by the time they make it to, say, Detroit.

Most of our mangoes come from Central and South America, India, and Southeast Asia, with a few coming from southern Florida. There are hundreds of varieties of mango: They vary in size (half a pound to five pounds), color (green to almost purple), and quality (crummy to awe-inspiring). Look for fruits that give a little to the touch and - this is key - smell like mango.

There is one downside to eating a mango: They're messy. You'll get juice on your fingers, your chin, your counters, and your household pets. You will get diabolical little fibers between your teeth when you inevitably scrape the last bit of flesh from the pit. But it's all worth it.

I think the best thing to do with a mango is to slice it, eat it, and make the mess, but if you're less of a purist (or just neater), here are some suggestions:

  • Put diced mango, toasted walnuts, and a little goat cheese in a spinach salad.
  • Make a simple sauce by pureeing mangoes with a little sugar and a few mint leaves; you may need to strain the sauce if your mangoes are fibrous. Use it on sorbet, ice cream, custard, or cheesecake.
  • Add diced mango and maple syrup to your morning oatmeal.
  • Serve prosciutto with mango instead of melon.
  • Mangoes make great ices, sorbets, daiquiris, salsas, and chutneys.
  • Assemble a tropical-fruit salad of mangoes, guavas, papayas, and kiwi topped with lime juice.
  • Serve blackened fish on a bed of mango and avocado. The mild flavors and smooth textures complement the spicy fish.
  • Make a smoothie of frozen mango and vanilla yogurt, and toss in a piece of crystallized ginger.

But I'm still willing to bet that if you get a really good mango, it won't be around long enough to be a sorbet, salad, or smoothie. It ain't the King of Fruit for nothing.

Tropical Sorbet

1-1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 large mangos, diced
1-1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
1/4 cup canned cream of coconut
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tsp freshly grated lime zest

In a medium saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Allow mixture to simmer for 5 minutes then remove from the heat. Allow the simple syrup to cool to room temperature, then cover and chill in fridge until cold. In a blender purée the chilled syrup with the mango, pineapple juice, cream of coconut, lime juice and zest until it reaches a smooth consistency. Place in an ice-cream maker, following the manufacturer's directions to form a sorbet. Garnish with a pineapple wedge if desired, and serve.

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