Native to India and Southeast Asia, mangos have been cultivated since prehistory. Over 1000 varieties are recognized and hundreds are cultivated in India where the fruit is a national obsession. We see just a few varieties here in California. Mangos ripen from June to November depending on variety and where they are grown, earlier inland later on the coast.
India is by far the largest grower of mangos followed by Southeast Asia, but most sold in the U.S. are grown in Mexico. Florida production was largely wiped out by hurricane Andrew (1992) and has not been restored due to doubts Florida could be price competitive, and fear of more hurricanes. Significant production began in Southern California around 2002, but production cannot yet meet demand (2013), even at a premium price.
While all mangoes sold in North America are M. indica, the Pickling Mango M. sylvatica also figures in India and Southeast Asia. All the other species are too toxic to be exploited.
More on the Cashew Family.
Buying: Color depends on variety and isn't a good guide to ripeness, though colored varieties shouldn't be picked until they show good color. The biggest point in selection is uniformity. A mango should be the same degree of hardness over its entire surface - no softer spots. If you're in a hurry for a ripe one look for one where the flesh gives a little when lightly pressed. To be honest, fully ripe ones are very rare in markets, and may be damaged from handling. Best to buy ahead of need. Select mangos that show good color for their variety, with very little or no give at all.
Ripening: Mangos ripen best at room temperature in a tray, stem end down, or just out on the counter. Some say to cover them with a slightly damp towel to prevent wrinkling, but I don't bother with the towel because I haven't found slight wrinkling to be a problem. In fact, with Kents and Haydens, its a good sign of ripeness. They are ready to eat when the flesh yields similar to a ripe peach and before they start to get any brownish areas. Once ripe, you have a couple of days window in which to eat them. Mangos should not be stored below 50°F/10°C.
Keitt - [var. Keitt]
Southern California began significant mango cultivation in the
Coachella Valley around 2002, a little less than half the production
being certified organic. The variety grown is Keitt, a large India
type fruit running from 20 to 26 ounce and even larger. The fruit
remains mostly green when ripe, and for marketing they may be treated
with ethylene gas to improve color. Flavor is excellent and there is
almost no fiber, just a bit around the seed. Production cannot yet
meet demand (2013), even at a premium price.
Photo by Asit K. Ghosh distributed under license Creative
Attribution-ShareAlike v3.0 Unported.
Manila Mango -
[Ataulfo, Adolfo, #4312 var. Manila]
Developed and grown in Veracruz, Mexico this mango was brought from
the Philippines over 200 years ago. Mexico and the Philippines are
now fighting over the "Manila" name. This mango is flat, elongated
and yellow and quite small. It is available most of the year, but
costs less at its peak season. These are highly regarded for flavor
and juiciness. A few are grown in Southern California and show up at
certified farmer's markets.
These mangos, ranging from 1-1/3 inches to 3 inches long, are clearly
of the same type as the Manilla Mango, but all had very thin, flat,
apparently non-viable seeds. They were purchased from an Asian market
in Los Angeles (San Gabriel) at 2016 US $2.99 / pound. Flavor was
excellent, very sweet with just the right note of resin, and with
such thin seeds yield was good.
Thai Mango - [#4312
These mangos, just over 5 inches long, were green and quite hard. The
yellow-green flesh was crunchy, but already there was moderate
sweetness. They were pleasant to eat, but too sweet for most green
mango recipes. I first noticed these in a large Asian market in
Los Angeles (San Gabriel) in early June, 2017. Typically 5-1/8 inch
long by 3-1/3 inches wide and 2 inches thick, weighing 7-1/4 ounces.
The skin is very thin and easily peeled with a vegetable peeler.
A 7-1/4 ounce fruit weighed 6-1/8 ounces peeled. The seed weighed
1 ounce, so 5-1/8 ounces were edible, a yield of 71%. 2017 US $2.99 / pound.
These green mangos were very small. The largest was 2.8 inches long,
1.9 inches across and 1.6 inches thick, weighing 2-3/4 ounces. Though
very young, they had definite mango flavor and some sweetness. The
seeds were soft enough to eat, but rather bitter. I found them in
a large Asian market in Los Angeles (San Gabriel) in mid June,for
2017 US $2.99 / pound.
Red Mango -
[#4051 (sm) #4959 (lg), mostly var. Kent, Hayden but also includes
Palmer, Vandyke, Edwared and Tommy Atkins]
India type mangos grown in Mexico. These are the standard mango sold
in Southern California. Plump ovate, green yellow with red shoulders.
Kent is 20 to 26 ounces and ripens late mid-season. Hayden is up to 24
ounces and ripens early. Both have good flavor and little or no fiber.
These are always sold a bit under-ripe for shipping durability and
need to be left out on a counter until the flesh yields to gentle
I don't know much about this mango yet, but its size is quite
unusual. The photo specimens were 6-1/4 inches long, 4-3/4 inches
diameter and weighted 2 pounds 10 ounces. They were quite meaty, and
the flavor was excellent with fiber free flesh. They were purchased
from a large market in Los Angeles that specializes in products and
produce for Mexican and Central American communities.
Tommy Atkins -
[#4051 (sm) #4959 (lg), var. Tommy Atkins]
A medium size Red Mango to 16 ounces grown in Florida, Central
and South America, the Caribbean and Israel, mainly for export. It
originated in Florida from a Hayden seed and now dominates what little
production is left in Florida. It's most outstanding feature is it can
be picked immature for shipment and ripens fairly well in transit. It's
least desirable features are a lot of fibers in the flesh and a
relatively bland flavor. Most mangos found in England and Europe are
of this variety, and I expect so are those above 40° North in
North America. Ovate, colorfully orange-yellow and red with a purple
bloom, it is firm, juicy, somewhat fibrous and flavor ranges from
fair to good, but poor if over fertilized or over irrigated.
Photo by Asit K. Ghosh distributed
under license Creative Commons
Attribution-ShareAlike v3.0 Unported.
Green Mango -
[A. Mangifera indica]
This mango must be truly unripe, with bright white, hard and sour
flesh. Just a hard green regular mango will not work. They are
julienned or grated and used in salads all over Southeast Asia. In
India they are used to make chutneys. Asian markets carry green mangos
at a significantly higher price than for almost ripe ones. The photo
specimen was 5-1/2 inches long, 3-1/2 inches across and weighed 1
pound 4-1/4 ounces. It was purchased at 2017 US $1.99 / pound from a
very large Asian market in Los Angeles, but many markets here ask up
to $2.99 / pound. Since I'm not Asian I used to be often asked at
checkout whether a green mango is really what I want. Today they
just figure a white person buying a green mango knows what s/he's
doing - or deserves what they're going to get. These mangos are too
immature to ripen on the counter.
Green Mango -
[Amchur Powder, Amchoor]
In India some mangos are picked green (unripe), cut, dried and sold as
chunks or in powdered form (Amchur powder). This is a very important
souring agent in the drier and more northern areas of India where
lemons and limes are expensive and quickly rot. As a powder it is
light weight and lasts a long time, similar to the
Sumac used in the Near East.
Mango Leaf -
[A. Mangifera indica]
Mango leaves are rather toxic and can cause severe contact
dermatitis in susceptible people, similar to that of the related
poison ivy. These leaves are much used in Hindu ritual, and extracts
may have serious medicinal uses which are beyond the scope of this
page. Despite the toxicity, I have found recipes using them, but the
leaves used are immature, in a stage when they are pink-yellow in
color, and presumably not yet seriously toxic.
Pickling Mango -
[A. Mangifera sylvatica]
This is the only commonly used mango that is not of the indica
species, all the rest being too toxic. This one won't be found in North
America, except as an ingredient in imported chutneys and the like. It
is native to India, Nepal and throughout Southeast Asia.
Drawing from Flora de Filipinas, copyright expired.