Mangos continue to pop up on menus around the country, and for good reason: Although they are typically thought of as a summertime fruit, they’re quite versatile and easy to incorporate year-round.
So, as fall and winter approach, it’s a great time for restaurant operators to start thinking about what they’ll do with mangos in the months ahead. The versatility of fresh mango is thanks in part to its variations of ripeness, from crisp and tart to sweet and juicy. So, experiment and explore, but before starting on recipe development and menu changes, here are some tips on how to order, ripen, cut and store mangos.
From crop to customer
According to the National Mango Board, harvesting is the most critical factor for a consumer-ready mango, because that’s what determines the flavor and texture. While a mango harvested before its time will often become softer, the flavors are brighter and more vivid when it’s picked at the right time.
While slightly unripe, crisp, tart mangos can delight some mango lovers’ taste buds, most restaurant operators prefer to receive mangos that are ripe and ready to use. So, once an order is delivered, examine the product’s ripeness. Squeeze the mango gently. A ripe mango will have a little give and may sometimes have a fruity aroma at the stem ends. The red color that appears on some varieties is not an indicator of ripeness. Always judge by feel.
If the mangos are not quite ready, they can be stored at room temperature where they will continue to ripen, becoming sweeter and softer over the next several days. To speed up ripening, mangos can be placed in a paper bag. Once the mangos are at peak ripeness, place them in the refrigerator to slow the process and ensure shelf life and longevity. Whole, ripe mangos may be stored in the refrigerator for about five days and cut mangos can also be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for several days. Finally, to extend the lifespan of ripe mangos, the fruit can be peeled, cubed and frozen in an airtight container for up to six months.
Once mangos are ripe, it’s important to get the most out of them. The National Mango Board’s “yield analysis” provides tips based on research conducted with 50 different varieties of mangos cut at optimal ripeness. It suggests:
- Understand where the seed is located and cut around it, as mango seeds are wide and flat, running the length of the fruit.
- Cut a thin slice off the stem end use the flat surface to steady the mango. Use a knife or peeler to remove the skin.
- Slice the “cheek” away from the seed, beginning a quarter of an inch from the center. Follow the shape of the seed with a knife and repeat on the other side.
- Lay the seed flat and use an angled cut to remove two wedge-shaped pieces from each side of the seed.
All through their range of ripeness, mangos can be a star on fall and winter menus. Feature them at brunch, in shared appetizers or mixed into a holiday beverage. Here are just a few ideas to jump start your mango mindfulness:
Brunch: Raspberry and mango muffins; mango, sausage and potato burritos; mango macadamia caramel rolls
Shared appetizers: Bacon-wrapped mango and shrimp; jerk-rubbed chicken skewers with mango salsa; chipotle-mango meatballs
Holiday beverages: Tropical eggnog; mango citrus fruit punch; mango Bellinis
For more information on ordering, ripening and handling, visit the National Mango Board.
This post is sponsored by National Mango Board