As the Fourth of July approaches, you’re probably enjoying summer’s longer days and warmer weather with friends and family. Why not give your gatherings a tropical feel? All it takes is a little atmosphere, delicious food and complementary wines to put your guests in an island state of mind. 

Summer menus are best when they’re light and healthy. Mangos are a perfect ingredient this time of year, known for an exotic, luscious taste that enhances appetizers, salads, entrées, desserts and beverages. And the abundance of mango varieties offers versatile flavors ranging from sweet to slightly spicy. 

Mango 101

Here’s a crash course in mango nutrition, selection and preparation.   

  • Mangos are available year-round in most areas. 
  • Mangos contain more than 20 vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamins A and C. They’re also a good source of dietary fiber. 
  • Don’t judge a mango by its color. This isn’t the best indicator of ripeness. Instead, squeeze it gently to determine ripeness. A ripe mango will give slightly, but not be too soft. Ripe mangos will often have a fruity aroma at their stem ends. 
  • To ripen firm mangos, store at room temperature. They will continue to ripen and become sweeter and softer over several days. 
  • Once ripe, store mangos in the refrigerator for up to five days.   

How to Cut a Mango

  1. Stand the mango on cutting board, stem end down, and hold. Place knife about 1/4 inch from the widest center line and cut down through the mango just along one side of the seed. Flip the mango around and repeat this cut on the other side. 
  2. The resulting ovals of mango flesh are known as the cheeks. What’s left in the middle is mostly the mango seed. 
  3. Score parallel slices into the mango flesh, being careful not to cut through the skin. 
  4. Scoop the mango slices out of the mango skin using a large spoon. 

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Photo courtesy of the National Mango Board