I was well into adulthood before I discovered I liked mangoes. Before I even tried mangoes! It just wasn’t something we had around when I was a kid, so I didn’t really know what I was missing. Now, I just love the sweet, juicy, refreshing, citrusy flavor of a perfectly ripe mango.
What led me to mangoes was a recipe for fish tacos with mango salsa that I thought sounded really good. (Incidentally, I was also well into adulthood before I realized I liked fish tacos, or that fish tacos were even a thing.) So I got the ingredients for fish tacos with mango salsa, and when I got the mango home, I realized I had no idea what to do with it. So of course I did a quick online search and found some instructions on how to deal with the mysterious fruit. (Thank you, Bobby Flay.)
So if you’re like I was, a novice mango handler, look no further. I am sharing my mango knowledge with you so you can love them as much as I do! There are obviously multiple ways of cutting mangoes, but this is the way I like to do it. 🙂
Disclaimer: There are mango cutters (like apple corers/slicers) out on the market. However, I’m not a big fan of items that are used for such a specific job and they only do that one thing (Alton Brown refers to these as unitaskers). Things like that aren’t versatile and just end up taking up a lot of room in my kitchen. I do own one of these cutters, but truthfully, I don’t use it. I just use the method described below.
How to Cut a Mango
First, let’s talk about selecting a mango. Gently squeeze the mango to test the firmness. It should give to the touch, but not be either squishy or hard (the same way you would judge a peach or avocado). Definitely avoid mangoes with wrinkly skin, as they will be overripe and mushy. Smell the mango near the stem. It should smell sweet and fruity. If it smells alcoholic or sour, it’s too ripe. If you don’t smell anything, it’s underripe. And I have learned that color is not a reliable indicator of mango ripeness. There are so many different varieties that color will vary wildly. Dark brown specks on the skin are ok. I do, personally, avoid mangoes that are totally green, as they tend to be underripe. I like ones that have some yellow/orange/red, and a little green is ok for me. But overwhelmingly, the firmness is the best indicator!
If you can’t find a mango that is ripe, you can buy an underripe one and let it ripen on your countertop for a few days. Once it is ripe, it should be refrigerated.
Now that you have the perfect mango, let’s cut it!
You will need a sharp knife you are comfortable with and a cutting board. Also, be very careful, as mangoes can be slippery little devils!
First you have to peel the mango, as the peel is not edible. Do this with a paring knife or a vegetable peeler, whichever you prefer.
Once you understand how a mango is built, it’s much easier to understand how to cut it. Mangoes have a flat, oblong pit (shaped somewhat like a football). You get the flesh of the mango by removing it from the pit, not the other way around.
So, cut a sliver off the bottom of the peeled mango to make it flat so you can stand it up on its end.
Then, imagining the “football” pit inside, hold the mango at the top and cut down one of the the wider/flatter sides of the mango, about 1/2 of an inch from the center so you avoid the pit. Let your knife curve ever so slightly to follow the line of the fruit. Turn the mango and repeat on the other wide/flat side.
Next, take your knife and cut down the small sides of the mango, again avoiding the pit and following the curve of the fruit.
Now you can use your knife to shave off any remaining chunks of fruit you may see.
Then, just cut your mango into the size chunks you want!
It will take a couple of tries to get used to how far away from the pit you have to cut. Mango is very smooth, so if you feel resistance on your knife, you are cutting the pit.
Now that you have this sweet, juicy, flavorful fruit to enjoy, what should you do with it? Eat it plain, put it in a salsa with avocado and black beans, put it on a salad, throw it into a smoothie, dip it in chocolate fondue, freeze it and then puree it in a food processor for a quick “sorbet.” The possibilities are endless. If you’re not a mango lover yet, give it a try!