Ah, mangos. Just a taste of its sunny sweetness conjures up thoughts of lying on a beach with a yummy frozen cocktail in hand.
The fruit is native to India and accounts for about half of all tropical fruits produced worldwide. Mangos are in season January through August, but they'll start peaking in the coming month.
Not only is the fruit "sweet as candy," says registered dietitian Elana Natker, but mangoes are rich in fiber and vitamins A and C, and a study conducted by Oklahoma State University in 2008 found that including mango in one's diet can aid in reducing body fat and controlling blood sugar.
Read on for Natker's tips on how to select, prepare, and store mangos, and then try one--or all--of the recipes.
How to select: First, give a mango a sniff. It should smell "as wonderful as they taste," with a sweet, fruity aroma emitting from the stem area, Natker says. She likes hers to be slightly soft.
How to prepare: Slicing this fruit often proves difficult. The easiest way to get in there is by cutting off large slices on either side of the long, flat pit in the middle. Then slice the flesh that's inside the skin into squares. Turn the skin inside out, and it'll look like a beautiful, exotic flower. You can then pick the squares off and use them as you wish.
How to store: Unripe mangos should be stored at room temperature. Once ripe, they can be stored for one to two weeks. You can also refrigerate them if ripe, but they should be used shortly after.
How to eat: Mangoes are delicious on their own or tossed into a fruit salad, smoothie, or salsa. Natker chops them with red onions, avocado, cilantro, and lime juice to create a salsa that's tasty on fish or chicken. If you're not going to eat the mango raw, grilled slices makes a tasty side dish. This summer, Natker has plans to grill mangoes as you would peaches, and serve with vanilla ice cream.
Recipes to try: