A mango is a round or ovoid tropical fruit. Mangos have inedible skin that appears in shades of green, yellow and red, and the orange-yellow flesh becomes sweet and juicy when ripe. Mango skin colors vary according to variety, region of growth and levels of sun exposure. For some mango varieties, sun exposure causes the skin to redden. However, ripeness is ascertained according to a mango's firmness and aroma rather than its color. Ripe mangos feel slightly soft when squeezed gently, and their stem ends smell fresh and fruity.
Mangos are conveniently stored and easily prepared. Store unripe mangos at room temperature. Prepare ripe mangos by using a kitchen tool called a mango splitter. A mango splitter separates the large seed from the flesh; use a sharp knife to chop the flesh into cubes or slices. Peeled and chopped mango flesh that is placed in an airtight container will store in the refrigerator for several days. Frozen mango chunks will retain their flavor and texture for up to six months and do not become soggy during the freezing process. Dried mango chunks or slices will store in the refrigerator for up to three years.
On its own, mango fruit provides a sweet nutritious snack. Mango fruit is also flavorful when added to many savory and sweet dishes. For example, chef Ingrid Hoffmann, on the National Mango Board website, recommends a mango, chicken and avocado salad in a dressing that includes lime juice, honey, mustard, pepper and poppy seeds. Mango fruit is also used in a variety of desserts, including yogurts, flans, crÍpes and cakes. Mango sorbet is low-calorie dessert that is quickly and simply prepared by placing diced mango, sugar, lime juice, coconut extract and pineapple juice into a blender. Freeze the sorbet mixture for about an hour before serving.
Mangos are low in calories and contain healthful amounts of fiber, vitamins and minerals. One mango provides 135 calories and 3.7 grams of dietary fiber, according to Dr. J. D. Decuypere on the Health Alternatives 2000 website. Mango fruit contains vitamins A, B-1, B-2, B-3, B-6, B-9, C, E and K and a range of essential minerals, including calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium and zinc.
When combined with sugar, honey and milk, mango fruit makes a fragrant face and body scrub that contains no harsh chemicals and purportedly leaves skin feeling smooth. You can also buy mango butter, which contains emulsifying stearic acid, which is useful in making soap. When combined with almond oil, cornstarch and fragrant essential oil, mango butter creates a homemade body cream.