how to: select, peel and dice a mango
Mangoes are hands-down my favorite fruit. But I have to admit — for many years, I had absolutely NO idea how to (safely and beautifully!) peel and cut them.
The story was always the same. I would bring a mango home, super-excited to enjoy that unique, wonderfully sweet flavor. But after just a few seconds of cutting, I would have my hands completely covered and dripping with mango juice, trying desperately to hold onto a slippery-slidy mango pulp, and not slip and cut my fingers instead of the pulp!
Needless to say…I needed an intervention. :)
Thankfully, a few years ago, a friend graciously gave me this lesson. So for anyone else who’s in that boat, I thought I’d make a quick tutorial to humbly pass along to you. I’ve also included some info on how to select a ripe mango, or ripen one at home.
Bottom line…cutting a mango correctly was much easier than I knew. And 100% worth it. So give it a try!!!
How To Select A Ripe Mango:
Often in stores now, you can find perfectly ripe mangoes that are instantly ready to eat. Still, much of the time (at least where I live – in the Midwest), you have to bring them home to ripen for a few days before they’re ready to go.
But regardless if you’re choosing them at the store, or waiting for them to ripen at home, here are some general qualities to look for in a ripe mango:
- Smell: If you sniff around the stem, ripe mangoes will smell very sweet and fragrant. Avoid mangoes with any sort of alcoholic or sour smell, as these could be over-ripe.
- Touch: Ripe mangoes will not be rock-solid, but rather, will give slightly when pressed with your fingers. Avoid mangoes that are too mushy, or mangoes whose skin has begun to wrinkle, as these could be over-ripe.
- Shape: Choose mangoes that are slightly more round (football-shaped) than flat. It’s also a good sign if the mango is full and plump around the stem.
- Color: Definitely don’t judge a mango completely by its color! Mangoes come in so many color variations.
How To Ripen A Mango:
If you do bring home a mango that’s slightly firmer to the touch, and not quite ready to go — ripening is easy! Just leave the mango out at room temperature until it has the signs of ripeness mentioned above. OR, to speed up the process, let the mango ripen (also at room temperature) inside a paper bag.
How To Peel & Dice A Mango:
Mangoes all have large, long, flat pits that extend from the stem all the way to the base. So your first objective is to cut around that.
With one hand, hold the mango on a cutting board so that the stem is facing away from you, and the flat sides are pointing sideways. With a sharp knife, carefully make a cut parallel to one of the flat sides – just far enough from the middle (usually about 1/2″) so that you don’t cut through the pit. Turn the mango around, and repeat on the other side. You should now have two mango halves, along with the middle section with the pit (surrounded by a ring of pulp).
Take one of the halves and turn it so that its skin is facing down. With a paring knife, gently begin scoring the pulp into the size of cubes that you would like. Be careful not to cut through the skin (but it’s definitely not the end of the world if you do!).
When you’re finished, place your thumbs on the skin of that half and press in so that it flips kind of inside-out and all of the mango cubes are raised. Then with your paring knife, cut along the peel so that the cubes of pulp are released and ready to go. Discard skin. Repeat this with the other half.
If you’d like, there’s usually a little pulp left in the middle section (with the pit) as well. To dice this, first use your paring knife to carefully cut away the peel of the mango. Then make another long cut down the middle of this section along the pit, so that you end up with two small strips of pulp. Dice these strips, and then discard the pulp.
If you end up cutting into a mango that’s too mushy or stringy for dicing, I’d recommend pureeing it, or popping it in a smoothie….or just scooping it out of the peel with a spoon and eating it plain!