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192/365 – Mango

The mango is known as the ‘king of fruit’ throughout the world.

The Mango is a member of the cashew family of flowering plants; other species include the pistachio tree and poison ivy.

The name ‘mango’ is derived from the Tamil word ‘mangkay’ or ‘man-gay’. When the Portuguese traders settled in Western India they adopted the name as ‘manga’.

Mangos originated in East India, Burma and the Andaman Islands bordering the Bay of Bengal. Persian traders took the mango into the middle east and Africa, from there the Portuguese brought it to Brazil and the West Indies. Mango cultivars arrived in Florida in the 1830’s and in California in the 1880’s.

The Mango tree is a symbol of love.

Mango leaves are used at weddings to ensure the couple bear plenty of children (though it is only the birth of the male child that is celebrated – again by hanging mango leaves outside the house).

Many Southeast Asian kings and nobles had their own mango groves; with private cultivars being sources of great pride and social standing, hence began the custom of sending gifts of the choicest mangoes.

Burning of mango wood, leaves and debris is not advised – toxic fumes can cause serious irritation to eyes and lungs.

Mango leaves are considered toxic and can kill cattle or other grazing livestock.

Mangos are bursting with protective nutrients. The vitamin content depends upon the variety and maturity of the fruit, when the mango is green the amount of vitamin C is higher, as it ripens the amount of beta carotene (vitamin A) increases.

There are over 20 million metric tons of mangos grown throughout the tropical and sub-tropical world. The leading mango producer is India, with very little export as most are consumed within the country. Mexico and China compete for second place, followed by Pakistan and Indonesia. Thailand, Nigeria, Brazil, Philippines and Haiti follow in order.

The fruit of the mango is called a Drupe – consisting of the mesocarp (edible fleshy part) and endocarp (large woody, flattened pit).

The mango is a member of the Anachardiaceae family. Other distant relatives include the cashew, pistachio, Jamaica plum, poison ivy and poison oak.

The over 1,000 known mango cultivars are derived from two strains of mango seed – monoembryonic (single embryo) and polyembryonic (multiple embryo). Monoembryonic hails from the Indian (original) strain of mango, polyembryonic from the Indochinese.

Dermatitis can result from contact with the resinous latex sap that drips from the stem end when mangos are harvested. The mango fruit skin is not considered edible.

Mangiferin – rich in splenocytes, found in the stem bark of the mango tree has purported potent immunomodulatory characteristics – believed to inhibit tumor growth in early and late stages.

Mangoes contain as much vitamin C as an orange.

To choose a Mango gently squeeze the ‘nose’ of the fruit. If there is slight give then the mango is ripe. Color is not the best indicator of ripeness.

A Mango stored at 55 degrees will last for up to two weeks. Do not refrigerate.

Mangoes are some of the best sources of beta carotene; they contain 20 percent more than cantaloupe and 50 percent more than apricots.

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Categories: Food, Nature
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