Mango Season!

Mango Tree – Photo Credit:

One of my gardening goals is to plant a mango tree in our yard in place of some of the more useless bushes (that have grown to be tree-like) which shed leaves all over the place. I figure shedding fruit would be more fun. My mother tells me that my grandparents had a mango tree in their backyard when they lived here – and why not? Mangoes are amazingly delicious – fragrant, juicy, sweet, and tangy. I didn’t grow up eating them like I did other fruits, but when I did snag some, I loved them. Some folks are hesitant to like mangoes because of the meaty texture and the huge inedible core at the center. I know I was puzzled as to how to eat them initially – do I slice the skin off and then slice what meat I could from the core? Do I just munch on it after the skin is removed? Since I learned most of my knife skills from TV cooking shows, I did just that for years – slicing the skin off and then cutting the fruit from the core (and then sucking on the core for what I missed with the knife). It was a messy process. Then I moved to the land of mangoes. Here you can find a mango for 50 cents in the grocery store or for free from your neighbor’s tree (with their permission of course). And while mangoes are technically in season most of the year, their peak is right now! Let’s just say I have mango visions dancing in my head.

I also learned a better way to handle them since coming here thanks to a family friend who handed me two glorious mangoes a few days into living here. Since then I have cut all my mangoes this way (yes, there have been many mangoes consumed since arriving). Essentially, you cut them like you would an avocado. Slice the mango in half all the way around the fruit without piercing the core. Once the cut mark meets itself, grasp the two halves and twist in opposite directions. One half will pop off leaving the core in the other half. Then using a knife or your fingers, pry the core out of the other half. Now you have two cored halves of a mango, scoop the meat out with a spoon, cut it out with a knife, or like an avocado, dice inside the skin and scoop out for little cubes.

You can freeze these up right away and use them in smoothies, eat them as is, or add them to a delicious mango salsa! I wanted to make a smoothie right away with mine, so I bypassed freezing them and used ice instead.

Making smoothies is challenging for a lot of folks who feel like they need a specific recipe and every ingredient in that recipe in order to make a healthy, tasty smoothie – and while it is true that you can botch them easily, you are also defeating the point of smoothie making if you have to be so rigid in your approach to making them. All you need to have is: fruit (frozen or fresh), liquid (milk, yogurt, OJ, etc.), greens (kale, spinach, etc.), and ice (unless your fruit was frozen to begin with). You can add other things like protein powder and sugar/agave/etc. to sweeten if you like, but there’s your basic formula and even that can stand a lot of tweaking.

A few things I’ve learned from making smoothies – a very ripe banana is a great binder fruit that makes your smoothie thick without making it taste like banana. You know how so many smoothies from a shop just taste like banana smoothies with a hint of mango? Well that’s because they use under-ripe bananas which are pungent and will dominate your smoothie. Pop half of a very ripe banana in and it will be magic. Protein powder can also add a thickening component and of course its a handy meal substitute. I rarely feel the need to sweeten my smoothies, but a little agave or syrup goes a long way in a smoothie with good fruit. My best piece of advice is to play around! Follow a recipe if need be, but once you have the basics, use whatever you have on hand.

In my case, I needed to use up the rest of my Kale from the casserole I made last week, the last bit of milk, and my mangoes – et voila! A delicious mango smoothie was born. One last piece of advice for smoothie making that is really applicable to almost all kinds of cooking: you can always add more of something, but very rarely can you take out what you’ve already added.

Breakfast smoothie with a view!

Recipe for Kale Mango Smoothie
1 Cup chopped Kale
Flesh of two Mangoes
1/2 Cup milk
1 Cup ice

Blend until smooth. Enjoy!

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