choosing and using mangoes

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Choosing the Ripest Fruit: To choose a good mango, smell it. It should have a faintly sweet aroma, especially around the stem. No perfume generally means no flavor. If the fruit smell sour or like alcohol, it's past its prime. Choose firm fruit that is just beginning to show some yellow or red in the skin. the skin should be tight around the flesh; loose skin means the mango is old. A large mango weighing ¾ to 1 pound will yield about 1 cup diced mango or cup pure. Usually ¾ to 1 cup diced mango is enough for a serving if the fruit is being eaten alone. To ripen a mango, keep it at room temperature. When ripe, the fruit will become more aromatic, its skin will take on a blush, and its flesh will yield gently to the touch. If you want to hurry the ripening process, put a few mangoes in a paper bag with a banana. The natural gases exuded by the banan will hasten the ripening of the mangoes. When mangoes are fully ripe can you refrigerate them, but only for up to three days.

Slicing, Peeling and Cubing: This fruit has a large, flat central pit that you need to cut around. To start, set the mango with its stem facing you and its narrow side against your cutting board. With a sharp knife, cut the "cheeks" from both sides of the central pit.

Once you've removed the mangoes cheeks, you can easily peel them using a sharp paring knife or a vegetable pee;er. Peel the skin from the remaining pit section and cut the flesh from the sides of the pit. The flesh closest to the pit is the most fibrous and is sometimes even tough. While this part of the mango will not yield the wonderful chunks of meat that the checks do, it's just as delicious.

Slicing the mango into wedges or a fan of thin slices is easy once you've removed the cheeks. Lay the cheeks face down on your cutting board and slice them lengthwise. While peeling the mango first will make the cheeks easier to slice, you can also serve slices or wedges with the skin still on, as you would a melon.

To cube a mango, cup an unpeeled cheek in your hand and, using a cross-hatch or diamond pattern, gently score the flesh, down to, but not through, the skin. With a large spoon, scoop the diamond-shaped pieces off the skin into a bowl. Or, you can turn the skin inside out by holding the mango with both hands so that your thumbs are holding the cut edges and you're pressing your fingers on the back of the check.

If you plan to use the mango in a recipe, be sure to taste the fruit and adjust the amount of sugar in the recipe accordingly.

To make mango pure, toss diced or sliced mango in a food processor and process until smooth. If necessary sweeten the pure with a little brown sugar. Add a bit of dark rum, if you wish.

Fine Cooking June-July 1995

Submitted By DIANE LAZARUS On 06-17-95

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