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Wilburn: Love those luscious mangos

POSTED: August 6, 2008 5:01 a.m.

What is the most popular fruit in the world?

I like most people would have answered bananas ... wrong! It is the mango. Mangos have been cultivated in India for more than 4,000 years. Gradually, mangos were distributed throughout the tropics of Africa, Asia and the Americas. Mangos were successfully introduced to Miami, Fla., in 1863.

Florida mangos are available from late May to October depending upon the variety and season. The peak season is generally from mid-June to mid-August.

Selection

Choose mangos that are mature, firm and free of many blemishes. Avoid soft or shriveled fruit, which may indicate bruising or immaturity. The best temperature for ripening mangos is between 70 F and 75 F. Fruits generally take from three to eight days to ripen. To speed ripening, place mangos in an enclosed bowl or paper bag.

Storage

Unripe mangos should not be stored at temperatures below 50 F, since these colder temperatures will cause chilling injury (uneven flesh ripening and off-flavors). Refrigerate only ripe (soft) mangos. Ripe mangos may be refrigerated whole and unpeeled for four to five days. Peeled, sliced and covered fruit can be stored for three or four days in the refrigerator.

Uses

No other fruit compares to the flavor of a ripe mango. The mango is very versatile and can be used at any stage of maturity. Each variety is slightly different in flavor and characteristics from the others. Green or immature fruit is excellent for cooking as a sauce or slices may be substituted for any recipe calling for tart apples. Likewise, medium ripe mangos may be used in recipes calling for peaches. Ripe mangos can be enjoyed raw as a fresh fruit dessert, in salad, etc.

Nutrients

Mangos are very nutritious. They are an excellent source of vitamin A, are a good source of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and they are low in fat. The vitamin content depends on the variety and maturity of the fruit. 100 g (approximately 1 cup) contains 65 calories, 0.5 g protein, 0.3 g fat, 17 g carbohydrates, 28 mg vitamin C and 4,000 IU vitamin A precursors.

Freezing

Very ripe, juicy mangos may be frozen in plastic bags or containers without sugar or syrup. Less ripe mangos should be frozen with sugar or sugar syrup.

Slice mango into bite-size pieces. Pack into moisture-vapor-proof containers. If using syrup, add a medium syrup (1 cup sugar to 1 cup water), leaving a 1/2-inch headspace. Seal, then freeze at 0 F.

Green mango slices may be substituted for any recipe calling for tart apples. Likewise, medium ripe mangos may be used in recipes calling for peaches.

Reference: Adapted from University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service

Nutrition information from USDA, NDB Number: 09176

Debbie Wilburn is county extension agent in family and consumer science with the Hall County Extension. Contact: 770-535-8290.



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