The mango originated in Southeast Asia where it has been grown for over 4,000 years. Over the years mango groves have spread to many parts of the tropical and sub-tropical world, where the climate allows the mango to grow best. Mango trees are evergreens that will grow to 60 feet tall. The mango tree will fruit 4 to 6 years after planting. Mango trees require hot, dry periods to set and produce a good crop. Most of the mangos sold in the United States are imported from Mexico, Haiti, the Caribbean and South America. Today there are over 1,000 different varieties of mangos throughout the world.
Those who know only the varieties found in places like Hawaii, Mexico or the West Indies may think they have discovered a new fruit. in the light-colored, delicately flavored mangos that turn up on Thai markets between March and June. More than a dozen different kinds are grown in Thailand.
Thais eat mangos in a number of ways, depending on the variety. Some types are traditionally served at the peak of ripeness, accompanied by a mound of glutinous rice topped with sweetened coconut milk; the light yellow ok rong and the slightly darker nam dok mai are especially good in this way.
Other kinds, such as kiao sa woei are more often eaten as a condiment or in salads when the skin is still dark green and the flesh is white. Mangos are also pickled ma-muang dong, soaked in sugar water ma-muang chae im salted and dried ma-muang khem, or turned into jams and chutneys.
Selecting the ripeness of mangos can be determined by either smelling or
squeezing. A ripe mango will have a full, fruity aroma emitting from the stem
end. Mangos can be considered ready to eat when slightly soft to the touch
and yielding to gentle pressure, like a ripe peach. The best flavored fruit have
a yellow tinge when ripe; however, color may be red, yellow, green, orange
or any combination.
The ideal post harvest storage temperature for mangos
is 55º F. When stored properly a mango should have a shelf life of 1 to 2
weeks. We have found that the best way to ripen a mango is at room
temperature, on the kitchen counter and if you wish to accelerate the
process place in a paper bag overnight (some folks place an apple with the
mango in the bag to create more natural ethylene gas and further decrease
the ripening time). Once ripened the mango can be refrigerated for a few
days, but should be used shortly thereafter.