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Mangoes are Marvelous

by Jacqueline M. Newman

Fruits, Desserts, and Other Sweet Foods

Summer Volume: 2016 Issue: 23(2)

This truly delicious tropical fruit has a big flat pit some call its ‘stone.’ It is in the flowering Mangifera family, and grows on an Anacardiaceae tree whose leaves are called evergreen, but only when mature. They are orange-pink when young and turn green later. Many of these trees in China are more than three hundred years old and they still produce fruit. We marvel at that, at the juiciness of their fruits, and that some of the pits are hairy while others are simply fibrous. The fruit can be enjoyed after a knife releases it from the stone. Chew on it attached to the stone and one's chin drips with juice.

The Chinese call mangoes pang guo, and they adore their large harvests every year. Before them, they enjoy looking at their yellow or red flowers and the many varieties of similarly single or multi-colored fruits. Most have yellowish-green skins turning rosy in the many different species. These trees can be more than one hundred feet tall, the mangoes cultivated in China and in South Asia for thousands of years. One can assume the trees are full-grown by now.

When fully ripe, the fruit of the mango can be very sweet, though some cultivars are more pulpy than others. All are eaten fresh or pickled, almost every one enjoyed. Those less than but almost ripe do make better pickles than do the very ripe fruits. There are some that eat the skin, though most do not. For those who do, they need to know that some can get a contact dermatitis on their lips and tongue. A few tell us that when touching their leaves or bark, they can get a similar reaction; it is from the oil in their leaves or the sap in their stems and bark.

Susceptible individuals can develop an anaphylactic reaction when they touch any part of the plant, particularly when young and the fruit is ripening. Worse than that, some get that same reaction when this fruit is made into a beverage with milk called lassi, sometimes called bassi, less so made with buttermilk, almost always with sugar, and these folk need to be wary no matter how it is made. Those with this mango allergy need to know that they will have greater negative reactions after every association or ingestion, and this popular drink, whether the weather is warm or not, can be lethal. They also need to know that if any part of the mango is used in a curry, a preserve, a jam, in a smoothie, pudding, ice cream, another kind of sweet, a spicy chili paste, or in another food item it still can be a serious problem for them. They need to be careful with foods popular in Southeast Asia where this fruit is popular as the mango can be a hidden item.

If you have such a negative reaction, ask before consuming foods whose origins are from these regions; and be aware that the Indian culture and others nearby use mango skin and its seeds in medications, too. Allergic folk need to ask and read every ingredient list, not always trust the vendors, and they should be tested before they have serious reactions.

On the positive side, mango is high in Vitamin C and has some folate and Vitamin B6, but little in the way of other vitamins. They have very few minerals in their hundreds of cultivars, some do have a little more than others, but the important word is 'little.'

Chinese, Indians, and Australians value this fruit more than folks from other cultures. One reader wrote of a two story building called ‘The Big Mango.' It is about two miles south of Bowen in Queensland, Australia. The person who told us, did purchase mango ice cream there, and they were given lots of free mango information. She said it was near a grove surrounded by live and lovely mango trees. She did send a picture of this building, and we do share it on this page. She said they liked the mango ice cream and the mango pudding, and in a Chinese restaurant nearby, they loved the mango in a dish simply called 'Beef with Mango.' Below are three popular Chinese recipes using this fruit, one for that beef dish, the others for a mango pudding and mango ice cream.
Mango Pudding
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 envelopes plain gelatin
4 cups ripe mango fruit peeled, pits and skins discarded
1 cup evaporated milk
6 mint leaves
1. Mix sugar with three cups of the mango, pureed, the other slices used as decor for the pudding tops.
2. Add one cup hot water to dissolve the sugar completely, then chill in the refrigerator until cool.
3. Mix with the evaporated milk and about eight ice cubes and freeze stirring fifteen minutes then let this set in the refrigerator until set.
4. Serve decorated with two or three mango slices and one mint leaf on top of each pudding.
Beef with Mango
3/4 pound beef loin, sliced thin
½ Tablespoon granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
2 slices fresh ginger, slivered
1 large clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 almost ripe mango, peeled and cubed
2 Tablespoons minced dried and soaked tangerine peel, diced fine
1 cup green leafy vegetable, cut into thin pieces
1 Tablespoon Indonesian thick sweet soy sauce or mashed fermented tofu, or both.
1, Marinate sliced beef for half an hour with the sugar, oil, half the ginger and garlic, then drain and dry the meat with paper towels.
2. Heat a wok or fry pan, add the oil, then when hot, add the ginger and garlic, and fry for one minute then add the mango and fry another minute before removing it to a plate for later use.
3. Now when the pan is again very hot, add the beef and stir-fry for one minute, add the tangerine peel, and return the mango to the pan and stir-fry another minute before adding the leafy greens and the soy sauce or fermented tofu, or both. Stir two or three times, then put into a pre-heated dish, and serve.
Mango Ice Cream
2 cups peeled than cubed mangoes
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons lime juice
2 Tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 cup coconut milk
2 cups half and half
3 Tablespoons toasted coconut, for decor
1. Marinate mango cubes and half the sugar for two or three hours in the refrigerator until all the sugar is dissolved.
2. In a small pot, cook the rest of the sugar, the lime juice, ginger and both milks until mixed well, then put into an ice cream maker with its paddle operating, and freeze for two hours or until frozen.
3. Pour into a serving container and keep in the freezer until ready to serve, then put into individual dessert dishes and decorate with the toasted coconut, and serve.

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