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Don’t be fooled by a mango

I live in the north, and it is very clear to me that the mangoes are not from around here. You can tell just by looking at them. The trees in these parts don’t produce such big things. So when we buy mangoes at the supermarket, we probably don’t know if they are ripe and we don’t really know how to treat them when we bring them home.

If you’ve ever been to an area where mangoes grow, you know that the best way to pick a mango is to find a ripe one hanging from a tree, which you’re not likely to see at your local grocery store. Mangoes are one of those fruits that do not tolerate early harvesting and long-distance shipping well.

There are two main types, the large reddish-green ones (up to eight inches long) and the small yellow ones (three to four inches long). Mangoes are quite soft when ripe, even softer than a ripe avocado. If they were picked green, they often turn brown inside instead of ripening, and in this case they have a very unpleasant taste. There is nothing to do when this happens except toss them into your compost pile.

When shopping for mangoes, it’s a challenge to know what’s going on under the skin, but here’s a tip to help you out; dark spots or blemishes almost always indicate internal problems for a mango, while they will have a pleasant, fragrant aroma if properly ripened.

If you bought mangoes that aren’t soft enough to be ripe and don’t give off a pleasant smell, put them in a brown paper bag with a couple of semi-ripe bananas. Bananas give off ethylene gas as they ripen, which is a gas used to ripen fruit in commercial packing plants. Ripe mangoes are a flavor delight; it is certainly worth the effort of trying to mature them. But the unfortunate reality is that mangoes picked too early will never ripen properly, so if you bought them green you always run that risk.

If you buy fully green mangoes, I would recommend using them for cooking rather than trying to ripen them. They will have a pleasant sweet-sour taste. You can dice them and mix them with rice and vegetables, add them to soups, put them in a fruit salad, or blend them to serve as a condiment with meat.

Make sure at some point in your life to eat a fresh, ripe mango straight from the tree. There is nothing in the world that tastes so exquisite.

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