What Is Mango?

Buying, Cooking, and Recipes

Cubed mango in a dish
SeeDJan / Twenty20

The mango is thought to be native to India, where the tropical drupe is so popular it's the national fruit. It's one of the most highly cultivated tropical fruits, grown in parts of Asia, Mexico, South America, and central Africa. It is frequently eaten raw in sweet and savory dishes. Mango is harvested in the late spring and summer, with some varieties fruiting twice a year. The tree is part of the cashew family and often produces 100 fruits per harvest and can even continue to produce fruit for up to 300 years.

What Is Mango?

A mango is a popular tropical fruit that is eaten in sweet and savory dishes around the world. It can be green, yellow, orange, red, or a combination of these colors, and has yellow or orange flesh surrounding a flat, hard pit. The fruit is typically peeled and cut away from the pit before use. A mango can be eaten raw unripe or ripe, or cooked into desserts, curries, and chutneys. It's a moderately expensive piece of produce per fruit, but many varieties are large and heavy. It is also a popular dried fruit.

How to Cook With Mango

A mango should be washed, dried, and peeled before eating. While the peel is technically edible, it can be tough and causes an allergic reaction in many people. Use a peeler or a sharp paring knife to remove the peel.

To remove the pit, find roughly where it is located and cut down the length of the fruit as close to the pit as possible without including any hard, stringy parts. Turn the mango and repeat, cutting away sections until all of the edible fruit is removed. Because the flesh clings to the hairy pit, you won't be able to get every bit of fruit off. Slice and eat the mango fresh, or prepare as called for in the recipe.

Alternatively, you can cube the mango. Instead of peeling first, cut sections of the mango along the pit as described with the peel still attached. Score the flesh into squares cutting up to the skin but not slicing through it. Turn the mango inside out, pushing the cubes of fruit apart. Cut from the peel and serve.

Bunch of ripe and green Julie mangoes hanging on tree
David Neil Madden / Getty Images
Halved and cubed mango on a piece of burlap
Natthawut Nungsanther / EyeEm / Getty Images
Mango banana smoothie bowl
Istetiana / Getty Images
Famous Thai dessert: mango with sticky rice and coconut milk
Aumphotography / Getty Images 
Spicy mango margaritas with basil
Elena Veselova / Getty Images

What Does Mango Taste Like?

Ripe mango has a sweet, tropical flavor similar to a mixture of peach and pineapple. Some varieties are sweeter than others, and the texture can vary, however commercially grown mangoes tend to have a balance of sweet and tart and a texture similar to a peach when ripe. Unripe mango is crunchy and tart (not sweet) and is often used in salads and savory dishes.

Mango Recipes

Mango is used in a wide variety of dishes spanning sweet and savory, raw and cooked. Raw mango can be eaten plain as a sweet snack, added to smoothies and cocktails, used to top cakes and tarts, or served with coconut sticky rice as a popular Thai dessert. The ripe fruit can also be used to make savory sauces, chutneys, or added to stir-fries and curries. Crunchy, unripe mango is popularly used in salads and made into pickles. Dried mango is also a popular snack and is often added to granola and trail mix.

Where to Buy Mango

Mangoes can frequently be found year-round in supermarkets, with more availability in the late spring and early summer. The fruit is typically priced per mango or per pound and sold loose. Different varieties can sometimes be found in specialty markets, Asian groceries, and Mexican markets. Peeled, cubed, frozen mango is available year-round in the freezer section, and dried mango is commonly found with the snacks or bulk goods. Canned cubed or pureed mango is often sold at groceries as well.

When buying a mango, look for fruit that feels heavy and is free of cuts or bruises. Ripe mango has a tropical fruity aroma and will give slightly to the touch. Some mangoes ripen to a combination of red, orange, and green shades, while other varieties are golden yellow or green when ripe.

Mango trees can be grown in tropical and subtropical climates that do not dip below 40 degrees. The trees can grow to be quite large and will often produce fruit in the third year.

How to Store Mango

Keep an unripe mango at room temperature to ripen, which can take several days. A ripe mango will give when pressed, similar to a ripe peach. To ripen the fruit faster, store in a brown paper bag on the counter. A whole ripe mango can be stored in the fridge for a few days before use.

Cut mango will last for a few days in an airtight container in the fridge. Frozen mango will last up to six months if kept properly frozen in a sealed bag. Dried mango should be kept in a dry, dark place and will last up to three months.

Nutrition and Benefits

A 100-gram serving of mango is worth 60 calories and contains less than a gram of fat. The fruit is very high in vitamin C, a vitamin essential in tissue repair and praised for its potential antiaging properties, and a good source of folate, an essential B vitamin.

Mango Varieties

There are over 500 named varieties of mango, and they range in color, texture, size, and flavor. The most popular variety sold in the U.S. is Tommy Atkins, a mildly sweet, large mango with firm, orange flesh and a blushing red peel with green and yellow undertones. Varieties like Honey are smaller, flatter, and more bean-shaped with bright yellow skin. It have a smaller pit, resulting in a higher flesh-to-pit ratio. A long list of other varieties ranges from very sweet to lightly sweet, stringy or soft to firm flesh, and in their seasonality. Typically, commercial varieties of mango can be used interchangeably in recipes.