Mangoes are native to Southeastern Asia, where they have been grown for more than 4,000 years. It is believed that Buddhist monks brought the mango to Malaysia and eastern Asia. From there Persian traders took it to the Middle East and Africa. Eventually, Portuguese sailors brought it to Brazil and the West Indies. And after a few thousand years, the Mango arrived in Florida in the 1830s and in California in the 1880s.
The Mango tree plays a sacred role in India; it is a symbol of love and some believe that the Mango tree can grant wishes. It is said that the Lord Buddha himself was given a mango grove in which he could find cool and shady repose. Many Southeast Asian kings had their own mango groves that were sign of social standing. Not surprsing that the mangoes nickname is “King of fruit”.
Ranking high on the list of nutrient dense fruits, the flesh of a mango is peach-like and juicy with a hint of pineapple flavor. The flavor is pleasant and rich and high in sugars and amino acids. Mangoes are one of the best sources of Vitamin A, and contain beta carotene. They are also a terrific source of Vitamin C!
Age to introduce: 8-10 months (cooked and pureed).
Toddler Treat: Mango Bagels and Mango Milkshakes
Two toddler treats, because mangoes are a big favorite with little kids. The milk shake recipe can be made for any child over 12 months old, but you may want to wait a little longer on the bagels. While the ingredients are okay for a 12 month old, the bagel might be a little hard to chew (or gum).
Mango Milk Shake Ingredients:
- ½ mango chopped
- ½ cup of milk
- ½ cup of ice
- 1-2 tsp honey
Place all ingredients in a blender and whirl until smooth. Serve.
Mango Bagels Ingredients:
- ½ bagel
- Cream cheese
- 2-3 Mango slices
- Small lime wedge
Toast the bagel, smear with a little cream cheese, top with mango slices and spritz with the lime wedge. Serve.
At the market: There are many varieties of mangoes, and color is not the best indicator of ripeness. It is best to choose them by touch and smell. Select full, somewhat firm fruit. Skin should be taut, smooth and waxy. They should have a strong perfume-like aroma. Avoid damaged, bruised, or shriveled fruit.
Storage at home: Mangoes that are a bit too firm, will ripen if left on the countertop. Mangoes that are ripe should be used, but can be refrigerated for 1-2 days.
Preparation: Mango skin is not edible and they have a pit. The pit is not removable like a peach or avocado. You cut the flesh from around the pit. Here’s how: Holding the mango with the stem end up on a cutting board. Slice one of the fat sides of the mango off with sharp knife starting about ½ inch off the stem center. Do the same to the other side. If you meet resistance, you have hit the pit, and move the knife a little further over to the side. You can get a little more flesh off, by slicing the sides of the pit (but not too much, the pit is large). The next step is to remove the skin from the mango, which can be sliced off easily with a sharp knife. The average mango will yield about 1 cup of chopped fruit.
Here are a few easy ideas to add mangoes in your meals:
- Ditch the standard green salad for an evening, and serve up a taste of the tropics. Toss mango, papaya, pineapple and bananas in a bowl. Garnish with chopped mint and lime wedges.
- An impressive, effortless salad. Add chopped mango and cooked shrimp or crab with salad greens. Toss with any vinaigrette. Garnish with chopped red pepper and green onions.
- A taste of Southeast Asian tradition. Add mango chunks to any curry dish. The sweetness of the mango mellows the spice of the curry- it’s a terrific combination. Add mango 4-5 minutes before cooking is completed.
- Mango salsa is quick and easy. 1 chopped mango, ½ cup chopped tomatoes, ¼ cup chopped sweet onion, ¼ cup chopped cilantro, 1 chopped jalepeno (optional), 1 Tbsp lime juice and 1 Tbsp olive oil. Mix well. Let marninate in the refrigerator 1-2 hours. Serve with chips.
- Grilled or broiled fish and mangoes are a natural together. Serve mango chunks plain as a side dish or to the fish with the above mango salsa recipe.
- BBQ skewers of tofu, basting them with a spicy BBQ sauce, serve on a bed of mango, chopped onion, chopped cilantro and lime juice.
- Mangoes can replace apples in any tart recipe. For quick and easy tart that looks like you spent the day in the kitchen, roll out a sheet of puff pastry. Place the pastry on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or foil. Sprinkle the pastry with a mixture of 1-2 Tbsp sugar and ½-1 tsp. ground ginger, lay thin slices of mango over the ginger sugar, leaving 1 inch around the entire edge of the pastry. Bake at 400 until golden brown (20-30 minutes). Drizzle lightly with honey (adds a pretty shine).