The Mango Peel. To Eat or Not Eat?

Can one eat the peel of a mango?  That is the question.  Here are the answers:


“No way!”

“Of course you can…”

“Ugh.  The peel tastes awful!”

“I always do!”

“Sure.  No problem.”

“Not unless I want my lips to explode.”

Ahhh.  Like so many things in life, it depends!  The considerations are allergy and taste.

  1. First, allergy.

Here is what Jennifer Shultz Nelson, Unit Educator of Horticulture at the University of Illinois Extension, has to say about this issue:

“Unfortunately, mangoes have some not-so-nice relatives in the plant world. Mangoes are in the family Anacardiaceae, the same family as Poison Ivy, Poison Sumac, and Poison Oak. Like its nasty relatives, mangoes produce the oil urushiol, a mixture of several chemicals that produces a characteristic skin rash in sensitive individuals.

Fortunately, only the mango tree’s sap and the fruit’s skin contains the urushiol, and it is produced in small quantities. Some sources say the fruit’s flesh contains very low levels of urushiol. If a person is sensitive to urushiol, they may potentially have a reaction after touching the mango’s skin, particularly if there is sap present.

Most people can manage sensitivity to the urushiol in mango skin by carefully removing all traces of the skin without contaminating the flesh with the same knife. Preferably they have someone else do this so they do not touch the skin themselves! If their reaction is extreme, some individuals may need to avoid eating mangoes.”

Essentially, one has to determine their own sensitivity to the peel of a mango and proceed accordingly.

2.  Second, taste.

A lot of people eat the peel; a lot of people don’t.  It’s personal preference.

A Gorgeous Blue Ribbon for Whole Foods

Wow.  I have not one, but two reasons to give a big, bold shout-out of appreciation to Whole Foods Markets.

1)  They recently offered ORGANIC Kents at $1.50 apiece. Enough said!  (January 2011)

Organic Mangoes @ Whole Foods Markets

2)  They did something *very* cool with labeling that I have not seen other stores do.

First, some back story about PLUs  (produce look-up codes).  For some asinine reason that I do not understand, the Mango Board advocates and promotes a PLU regimen for mangoes that is NOT helpful to consumers.  To be fair, they didn’t start the system.  In fact, the International Federation for Produce Standards is probably to blame and in later posts I will dig deeper about the history.

In a nutshell, you know when you buy produce and you see those little stickers?  Well, those little stickers have numbers, which is the fruit or veggie’s PLU.

Now get this.  Despite the vast differences in quality, KentTommy Atkins, and Haden mangoes all share the same numbers! (As an aside, these are typically 4051 or 4959 depending on the size…and in the sticker below Whole Foods is using what’s called a “retailer assigned” PLU for these Kents instead of the standard 4051 or 4959.   The “9” that begins the number is an organic designation)

Anyway, back to my point. For cripes sake, since the mango varieties are SO different, they should each have their own PLU!   That way, a shopper could at least learn the number for the variety they like most, and then rely on the number to select decent mangoes, since it IS a fact that mangoes can be hard to tell apart.

OR….retailers/importers could do what Whole Foods has done. In fact, because of its simplicity, I prefer it!  Take a look at this beaut of a sticker.

Organic KENT Mango Peru

Not only does it have the industry PLU on it, BUT Whole Foods went to trouble of labeling the mango:  Organic KentMango Peru… Now there’s a breakthrough for consumers seeking the real deal mango experience!  It’s a Kent.  Not a Tommy!  Sold!

I’m telling you, this is huge.  Why? because now a mango novice doesn’t have to worry about accidentally selecting a Tommy Atkins mango and being robbed of the real deal mango experience.

If I were a mango importer, this is *exactly* the kind of labeling I would put on my fruit.  And who knows.  Maybe I’ll start a new venture.  No Tommys.  Only the best for my customers.  The trusted brand:  Mango Maven!

So thank you Whole Foods for going the distance.  I’ll do my best to get the word out about just how important this extra effort in labeling is….WELL DONE!!!   MUCH APPRECIATED!!!

(And to my mango fans, please let me know if other retailers deserve this labeling praise…and send pics.  I’ll post the praise!)

FAGE & Mango: My Favored Way to Start the Day!

When I can get good mangoes, my favorite breakfast of all time provides about 50% of my daily protein requirement and 80% of my daily Vitamin C requirement – and all for around 300 calories.   The best thing, though, is that my *fav* tastes like dessert!

Here’s my routine.

I spoon at least a cup’s worth of FAGE (pronounced fah-yeh) Greek Yogurt into my food processor.  I use either the 2% version or the fat-free version and wouldn’t think of using anything but FAGE because of its ever-so-mild flavor and smooth texture.  (In my area, FAGE can be found at Trader Joe’sWhole FoodsSafeway, and Costco)

Then I cut a mango or two’s worth of slices and put them in the food processor and blend the mango and yogurt together until the whole concoction is super smooth.  What comes out is something akin to mango pudding.  It is to die for good – and so healthy!  I scrape the mix into a mug with a spatula and enjoy with the help of a few (quiet!) slurps and a spoon.   The consistency comes out thicker than a typical smoothie, which I like because it feels like more of a meal.

Mango and FAGE make for that rare and divine combination that can satisfy health nuts, dieters, and gourmets all at once.  What a meal!  And when mangoes aren’t to be found, I substitute bananas, which also make for a delicious, healthy breakfast.

Happy food processing!


FAGE 2% Greek yogurt

FAGE 2% Greek yogurt

Cutting off the end for an easier start with the mango cutter

Cutting off the end for an easier start with the mango cutter

The cheeks and seed after the cut

he cheeks and seed after the cut

On your mark, get set....

On your mark, get set….

Pure Satisfaction

Pure Satisfaction


Kents and More Kents

This entry is part 4 of 6 in the series Mango Varieties in US Markets

Kents are great mangoes.  They have almost totally smooth flesh, are very tasty, and are highly recommended IF you know how to eat ’em ripe.  To that point, let’s make sure we know what “ripe” means.

First, let’s see what a line-up of Kent mangoes looks like. Below we’ve got 8 Kents lined up from the most unripe (Kent 1) on the left to perfectly ripe on the right (Kent 8).

Next, let’s take THE SAME eight Kents and flip them over for a different view and perspective on color.

Some quick observations.

  • Kent 3 looks riper than Kent 4, doesn’t it? It’s got more red. BUT, to the touch, Kent 4 was a fair degree softer, and thus, closer to ripeness.
  • Kent 7 looks ripe, just like Kent 8, doesn’t it?  It’s very similar in color to Kent 8.  But, alas, cutting Kent 7 open would only disappoint you.
  • Kent 8 is the *only* mango that is ripe.  Views 1 -3 below tell the story especially well. See the wrinkles all over Kent 8?  It’s ready to eat!
  • Kent 7 is *just beginning* to get a wrinkle or two; it looks ready, but isn’t.  Another couple of days, or maybe even one day depending on the environment, would make all the difference for Kent 7.
  • Unfortunately, the web has its limits and can’t deliver a sense of touch.  So let me just say this.  Kent 8 felt *suspiciously* soft.  Using other fruits as a benchmark, Kent 8 would *almost* feel spoiled…or too ripe.  Kents in particular are soft among mango varieties, but ripe mangoes are soft in general, maybe something akin to ripe apricots.
  • So don’t let softness throw you off, especially with Kents.
  • Chances are, a fairly soft Kent with a good amount of wrinkling is a good bet for the real deal mango experience.

Bottom Line:

  • Flavor: Sweet and rich for sure
  • Texture: Juicy, tender flesh with very limited fibers
  • Color: Dark green and often has a dark red blush over a small portion of the mango
  • Shape: Large oval shape
  • Ripening Cues:  Kents have yellow undertones or dots that cover more of the mango as it ripens. Squeeze gently to judge ripeness and look for wrinkles
  • Peak Availability: January through March, June through August
  • Primary Source Countries: Mexico, Ecuador, Peru

Buy Fresh Mangoes Online

Ok folks, I’ve searched the web for reliable vendors that sell mangoes online – Here’s a great selection of vendors to choose from when nothing else will do but peak-of-ripeness fresh fruit!

In no particular order, try these excellent companies for the real deal mango experience. From their homepages, do a quick search for “mango” and you’ll get right to the mangoes! Check all six for prices and seasonal availability.

1. The Fruit Company has been featured in Oprah’s “O” magazine and many times has Kent mangoes for sale. (translation = yum!)

2. Hale Groves ships mangoes from South Florida in several sized boxes and offerings. Mangoes are also included their Summer,3,6,9, & 12 month fruit clubs. Thank you Hale Groves!

3.Pittman & Davis Fresh Fruit Gifts also offers mangoes in several different box sizes – and Fruit of the Month offerings.

4.Harry & David offers honey mangoes that typically begin shipping in June, a *very* tasty mango option…(honey mangoes also go by the names ataulfo, manila & champagne). I *think* this may be the only vendor that ships honey mangoes, so definitely seek them out in the summer.

5) Ok here’s a little twist, Cherry Moon Farms. They don’t ship mangoes by themselves, but they include mangoes in their Fresh & Dried Tropical Fruit basket which is AWESOME for gift giving because they let you select the perfect ribbon wrap for the occasion: Happy Birthday, With Sympathy, Get Well Soon, Thank You etc… AND YOU CAN EVEN CREATE YOUR OWN RIBBON. Shazam. That’s a win.

6) And another mango twist: Golden State Fruit also offers a Tropic Abundance Basket which of course includes mangoes! Try using the code JUSTFORMOM at checkout; it just might get you 10% off! 🙂

Try using the coupon codes above as they can be applied to an entire shopping cart, not just mangoes!


Costco Guy Needs Mango Education!

Oh boy….  Them’s were fightin’ words!

Lemme tell y’all ’bout that sad, shameful day…

I was just leaving Costco – minding my own mango business.  As it was, I had two tubs of FAGE Greek yogurt and a case of Kent mangoes in my cart (plus a few other things.)  The Costco guy was standing there checking my receipt against the contents of my basket (like someone always does at Costco) and bam!  He hit me!  Okay, so perhaps not literally, but it was a blow nevertheless!

The guy looks at my tubs of FAGE yogurt *which were right next to the blasted mangoes* and says that I need to get some fruit with that yogurt.  Say what????  I immediately pointed out and defended my innocent, beautiful fruit.  “Mangoes, I’ve got mangoes!” I said.  He looked at me trying to be friendly (but not succeeding, not even one bit) and said he meant something “sweet.”  I’m sorry, but what kind of dumb*ss comment was that?

My feeling is, if you don’t know about mangoes, then don’t go around talking dirty about them.  It’s like Momma always said…if ya can’t say ‘nothin nice…It’s a good thing I really love Costco or…..I just mighta had ta pick a fight!

Seriously, though.  This *IS * the problem.  A lot of people just don’t know about mangoes.

Blog, on.  Blog on…

Rebecca Wood & Mango Sorbet Recipe

So there’s this very cool lady named Rebecca Wood.  She’s one of those special folks who teaches the rest of us all about food and nutrition, with one her areas of expertise being whole foods as you see below.  Well.  Rebecca publishes a newsletter and included a nifty recipe for mango sorbet in her “My Dad and Cake” issue.  While I don’t want you to leave *MY* site,  I’m going to link you to the recipe instead of posting it directly out of respect for Rebecca’s copyright; I’m sure you’ll enjoy it!

And thanks, Rebecca, for being a friend to mangoes!

Don’t Blame EITHER on the Cats

This post is dedicated to any mango friend who has ever had their treats stolen.  Treats stolen?   Yeah.  Treats stolen.  You know, the treats that you stash somewhere in the depths of a kitchen cabinet.  The kind of treats that are just for *you*.  The kind of treats that you look forward to munching on after a Holy-Mother-Train-Wreck-of-a-Day.  I had such a stash.  I did.  And now it’s gone.  “Maybe the cats ate the treats?”  Please.

Mango friends, if this has ever happened to you, I am here to sympathize and commiserate.

And to add mango insult to mango injury, get this:  The perpetrator, after violating the household treaty on treats by consuming the treats, grinned ever so happily…no, proudly…and announced that everyone should stay out of a certain area of the house because the consumption of such volume of said treats caused a certain kind of “problem.”  Yeah.  You know the kind of problem I’m talking about.  Innocent household pets have been taking heat for this kind of “problem” for all eternity.

So no, dear Perpetrator, the cats didn’t eat the treats, nor did the cats have any sort of  “problem.”   I’m thinking I’ll sleep with them.

Mikey Likes Mangoes…What a Heavenly Life!

Mikey is a friend of my friend and I just discovered (via my friend) that Mikey is onto something. Something very likely sinful. Something addictive. Something delicious!

Mikey tells my friend how he does mango in his house, and I gotta tell ‘ya I’m miffed I didn’t discover it myself.  Here’s what Mikey does.

Mikey ventures out to the grocery store and casually selects some mangoes. Then, he sneaks over to the frozen foods aisle (and no, he’s not looking for brussel sprouts) and looks both ways. The diet police are nowhere in sight. Coast clear, he reaches into the freezer and pulls out (insert drum roll) Haagen-Dazs Mango Ice Cream. GASP!!!!!!!!


Hello Jesus! The mere thought of this mango-mango combo sends me into my own kind of resurrection!  I can’t concentrate. Life on earth stops. I must, I must be Mikey’s disciple and follow the leader. I would have done it sooner, but I never knew about this mango dream team! How long has this wonder of a product been on the market? Oh, the torture of what I’ve missed through my ignorance! But I can’t look back. I must, must forgive myself. Put my oversight behind me and begin anew.


Bear witness, my dear mango friends, to my new inspiration. I have been saved by the mango-mango combo. Let’s just call it Amazing Grace.  Shazam, it’s good!  The best deal of all is that this is not just “mango flavored” ice cream.  Haagen-Dazs actually went to the trouble of putting perfectly ripe, perfectly sized pieces of mango into the mix!  So not only do I get fresh mangoes on top, but I get fresh mangoes inside the ice cream.  YUMMMM.  Thanks Haagen-Dazs, and thanks Mikey!  (and thanks to the sacrificial mango of the day!)


(I got my Haagen-Dazs at Safeway)

Oh yes, and let me add:  I’m firm believer in the notion that one good thing leads to another.  For all you non-dairy folks, I’ve got something good for you too!  Stay tuned.

A Mango Lassi Just for You; compliments of India!

For the uninitiated, a lassi is a delicious yogurt-based chilled drink hailing from the Punjab region of India.

Lassis come two ways, sweet or salty, and are popular throughout India and Pakistan. Lucky for us, lassis are beginning to take hold here in the United States!  Why the luck?  Because lassis are so delicious!!

Sweet lassis are made with and without fruit, and in the “with fruit” category, mango lassis are the most popular. Makes sense to me!

There is no ONE WAY to make a mango lassi, so experiment!  Below are some suggested core mango lassi recipes to start with.  Remember that Greek yogurt is strained and will produce a thicker mango lassi; regular plain yogurt will make for a thinner lassi.  You’ll need less ice to produce a quintessentially cool, refreshing mango lassi if you begin with mangoes or mango pulp that have been refrigerated.  This is my preference because I tend to prefer more robust flavors (less ice).  And experimenting with different textured sweeteners like honey, stevia, demerara sugar, or turbinadosugar is really the only way to see what you like best.   When you find the combination that suits you best, serve it up for any spring or summer gathering.

As for aesthetics, I would serve my guests mango lassis in footed glasses garnished with mint leaves or saffron strands. Mango slices placed on the sides of the glasses might be nice too.  I tend to prefer organic looking serving pieces, but you might prefer a more traditional porcelain tray.  Whatever you choose, the light-orange-colored lassis will be beautiful!

In all the below recipes, place the ingredients in a blender and blend until frothy and smooth.  Serve and enjoy immediately!  Mango pieces should come from ripe, skinned mangoes.  If you can’t get ripe mangoes, try mango pulp!  If you can’t find mango pulp at your local grocer, try Amazon or India Blend, both of whom will deliver all the mango pulp you could ever need right to your doorstep.

Mango Lassi – Version 1

  • mango pieces from 2 RIPE mangoes
  • 2 cups plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup ice

Mango Lassi – Version 2

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup ripe mango pieces
  • 4 teaspoons sugar, to taste
  • A dash of ground cardamom

Mango Lassi – Version 3

  • 2 part plain yogurt
  • 1 part milk
  • 1 part canned mango pulp OR  1 1/2 parts fresh mango pieces
  • sweeten to taste

Mango Lassi, Version 4

  • 3½ fl oz cream
  • 7fl oz whole milk
  • 14fl oz plain yogurt
  • 14fl oz mango pulp
  • 4 tsp superfine sugar

And lastly, if you are interested in mango lassis, you might be interested in other types of Indian cuisine.  India Blend has a great selection of hard-to-find ingredients delivered to your doorstep!