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This article is about the fruit. For other meanings of the word, please see Mango (disambiguation)

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Subclass: Rosidae
Order: Sapindales
Family: Anacardiaceae
Genus: Mangifera
M. altissima
M. caesia
M. camptosperma
M. casturi
M. domestica
M. foetida
M. indica
M. kemanga

M. longipes
M. macrocarpa
M. odorata
M. oppositifolia
M. pajang
M. pentandra
M. persiciformis
M. pinnata
M. siamensis
M. verticillata

Ref: Sorting Mangifera names
as of 2002-08-04

The mango (Mangifera indica) originally comes from India. Reference to it as the "food of the gods" can be found in the Hindu Vedas, written in about 4000 B.C. The name of the fruit comes from the Tamil word man-kay, which was corrupted to manga by the Portuguese when they explored western India.

The range of the mango as a cultivated fruit tree now includes the United States, Australia, South and Central America, the Caribbean, South and Central Africa, and the Philippines.

It is easily hybridized and now there are more than 1,000 varieties, ranging from the turpentine mango (from the strong taste) to the huevos de torro, generally translated as "bull's testicles," from the shape and size. A comprehensive list of leading varieties can be found at (although this omits the St Julie of the West Indies).

In height the tree may reach 40 meters (over 130 feet) with a span of 10 meters (32 feet) at the top. New leaves are almost a salmon color that rapidly changes to a glossy dark green as they mature. When the little white blossoms emerge they give off a mild sweet odor suggestive of lily of the valley. After the flowers fall off, the fruits may take from three to six months to ripen.

The mango fruit, when fully mature, hangs from the tree on long stems and may weigh up to 2 kilos (5 lbs). The fruits come in a variety of colors -- green, yellow, red, or various combinations of these colors. When ripe, the unpeeled fruit gives off a slightly sweet smell. In the center of the fruit there is usually an oblong flat pit that can be fibrous or hairless, depending on the variety. Inside the shell, which is 1 millimeter thick, is a paper-thin lining with the seed inside.

The mango is reputed to be the most commonly eaten fresh fruit worldwide.

It is believed that mangoes soothe the intestines which makes them easy to digest. In India, mangoes are used to stop bleeding, to strengthen the heart, and to benefit the brain. Their high levels of iron make them useful in treating anemia.

The mango is in the same family as poison ivy and contains urushiol, though much less than poison ivy. Some people have gotten dermatitis from touching mango peel or sap. The leaves are also toxic to cows.

80% of mangoes in UK supermarkets are of the single variety Tommy Atkins, which also dominates the world export trade. It travels well and has a good shelf-life, but does not have the same flavour as some less common varieties which can be obtained from Asian shops.

In India, the most common variety is the Alphonso, known as the King of Mangoes. The best Alphonso is said to come from the town of Ratnagiri in Maharashtra.

Methods of eating mangoes

Some people claim that the safest way to eat a mango is in the bathtub, or sitting naked on a deserted beach. Generally they are quite juicy and can be very messy to eat. However, those exported to temperate regions are, like much tropical fruit, picked underipe. Although they are ethylene producers and ripen in transit, they rarely have the same juiceness or flavour as the fresh fruit. A ripe mango will have an orange/yellow or redish skin. To allow a mango to continue to ripen after purchase, store in a cool, dark place, but not your refigerator. Refrigeration will slow the ripening process.

The small varieties, usually somewhat yellow in color, can be rolled on a flat surface in the same way a lemon is rolled before extracting the juice. It is ready for eating when the big seed can be rotated without breaking the skin. With the teeth rip off a piece of skin at the top of the mango and place your mouth over the hole. Squeeze the fruit from the bottom up, as if squeezing toothpaste from the bottom of the tube.

With any of the larger varieties of mango, the operation is less hazardous: place the fruit lengthwise on a table and feel for the seed which should lie horizontally inside the skin about midway through the fruit. Slice the mango so that the knife just passes over the top of the seed. Turn the mango over and repeat the process.

With each big slice that's been removed cut hatch marks through the flesh just down to the skin. Then, holding the piece flesh side up, press the thumb on the skin side underneath as if turning the piece inside out. Many bite-sized pieces of flesh will pop up and can be cut out to put into a fruit salad or other preparation. This technique is sometimes called the hedgehog method because of the appearance of the prepared fruit. An alternative to the hedgehog method is to use a spoon to scoop out pieces of the fruit from the exposed "cheeks".

A simple way to eat a large mango 'as it is' is by using a knife. Start by removing part of the skin and then slize out and eat bite-sized pieces with the knife. Remove more skin to expose more flesh. Expect to get juicy hands when eating the last part, when there is no skin to hold with your hand.

Mango pieces can be mashed and used in ice cream; they can be substituted for peaches in a peach (now mango) pie; or put in a blender with milk, a little sugar, and crushed ice for a refreshing beverage.

A more traditional Indian drink is mango lassi, which is similar, but uses a mixture of yoghurt and milk as the base, and is sometimes flavoured with salt or cardamom.

Mangoes are widely used in chutney, which in the West is often very sweet, but in the Indian subcontinent is usually sharpened with hot chilis or lime.

In Mexico and Guatemala, sliced mango is eaten with chili powder and/or salt.

In the Philippines, unripe mango is eaten with bagoong, a salty paste made from fermented fish or shrimp.

In Ecuador and Honduras, small, green mangos are popular; they have a sharp, brisk flavor like a Granny Smith apple. Vendors sell slices of pealed green mango on the streets of these countries, often served with salt.

Finally, in the words of the theme song for Red Dwarf:

I want to lie shipwrecked and comatose,
Drinking fresh mango juice...

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