What is a mango?
Bite into ripe, juicy mango flesh for a burst of summer. Enjoying the distinctive sweet flavour of mango, simply served with a squeeze of lime juice is a fantastic way to start the day. The refreshing mango lassi, made by mixing ripe mangoes or mango pulp with buttermilk and sugar is a popular drink imported to Australia from the south of Asia.
Originally from South East Asia, mangoes have been cultivated for more than 4,000 years. In the 4th and 5th centuries BC, Buddhist monks introduced mango plants to eastern Asia. By the 10th century, traders had taken mangoes on their voyages to the Middle East and East Africa. The Portuguese introduced mangoes to South America, the Philippines and West Africa.
In the 1800s, mango plants reached Australian shores and they are now grown in the tropical and subtropical regions of the Northern Territory, Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia.
In Australia, the Kensington Pride (or Bowen) is the most commonly grown variety. Mangoes vary in skin colour (from green to red) and their flesh can be golden yellow to a deep orange.
Other types include the popular R2E2 variety, which has orange-coloured skin with a red blush and non-fibrous, sweet yellow flesh. The Honeygold is a new variety that has golden apricot-coloured skin and flesh that is free of fibrous strands. The Keitt is a late season mango with thick, green to yellow skin and a red blush when ripe. There are also green-skinned mangoes available such as the Nam Dok Mai and the Fa Lan varieties.
Why mango is good to eat
- Mangoes are a good source of vitamins A (important for growth and development and the maintenance of your immune system) and C and contain vitamins B6 and K (important for helping your blood to clot).
- Mangoes also contain minerals such as potassium (which helps to regulate blood pressure), magnesium (involved in the regulation of muscle, heart and nerve function and keeping bones strong) and calcium.
- Mangoes contain dietary fibre, which is important for a healthy bowel.
- Energy – 100 g of mango flesh supplies 230 kJ.
How are they grown and harvested?
Mango trees grow best in subtropical and tropical climates, in warm, sheltered positions. The trees grow to between 8 and 12 m. They have dark green leaves and the trees produce clusters of white, fragrant flowers that become mangoes once they are pollinated (either by bees, wasps or other insects).
To produce ripened fruit takes between three and six months from flowering. When the fruit is fully developed and ready for harvest, the stem of the mango will easily snap if you pull it slightly. If you need to tug harder, the mango is probably still immature and should not be picked.
Choosing a mango
Choose firm mangoes that have a pleasant smell. Avoid mangoes that are very soft or have bruises or black spots on the skin.
The colour of a mango does not indicate ripeness. Some varieties with peach-coloured skin may not be ripe. A ripe mango will yield to gentle pressure at the stem end of the fruit.
How to store and keep mangoes
Store unripe mangoes at room temperature but not in direct sunlight. Once they are ripe, store mangoes in the crisper section of your fridge. They will keep for up to three days when refrigerated.
How to use
- Make a simple mango chutney – boil chopped unripe mango, sliced apple, onion, brown sugar, white wine vinegar, garlic, chilli in a saucepan, then add sultanas and, when cool, store in sterilised jars.
- Serve stir-fried chicken – cook chicken in oil, lime juice and soy sauce, add broccolini and bok choy, then finish off with sliced mango, torn fresh mint and coriander leaves.
- Bake an easy mango and cheese tart – place a mixture of sliced mango, cherry tomatoes, goat’s cheese and basil in a puff pastry case and bake.
- Enjoy a chicken and mango salad dish – grill or barbeque chicken coated with Cajun (or other) spices, then place on top of a mango, lettuce, avocado and shallot salad that has been drizzled with vinaigrette.
This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by:
Better Health Channel
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