You Say Mango, I Say Ataulfo

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It's celebration time, FruitFriends, as we pop the cork and welcome back the delectable Champagne Mango into our mix. The Champagne Mango is known by many other names, including Honey Mango, Manila Mango, and its official title, the Ataulfo Mango. This crook-necked variety resulted from an accidental cross-pollination between mango trees in the Soconusco region of Chiapas, Mexico, and was named after grower Ataulfo Morales Gordillo. To this day, Chiapas remains the main growing region for the Champagne Mango. The Champagne Mango is one of my personal favorite fruits.

Unlike larger mango varieties such as the Tommy Atkins or Kent Mango, the flesh of a Champagne Mango is completely smooth and free of stringy, fibrous material attached to the seed. The buttery texture makes them easier to slice and eat, I think. And despite their smaller size, the Champagne Mango has a much higher flesh-to-seed ratio than its larger cousins. I also find that a ripe Ataulfo has a more concentrated sweetness than other varieties without any tart aftertaste. If you haven't tried a Champagne Mango before, I promise it will be a unique experience. They are ripe when the skin is completely yellow, orange, and even wrinkling. Don't worry - even if your mango starts to look like the aged Brad Pitt in "Benjamin Button," it's completely normal and can provide a good visual indicator of when they're at the peak of sweetness. If there's any tint of green anywhere on the skin, the mango is not quite ready to eat.

Getting inside this amazing fruit is a little more complicated that biting into an apple. Most people begin by "fileting" the sides of the mango off, away from the seed. Then make a grid of crossing cuts in the flesh of each half, keeping it in the peel. Once the cuts are made, press up on the peel to turn the mango flesh inside out, exposing the neatly sliced mango chunks. These can be slivered off into a bowl or bitten right off the skin. The remaining flesh on the seed can be carved off in small slices, or you can bite it right off the seed - just make sure to keep a napkin handy, as a ripe Champagne Mango will be very juicy. And remember to check out the rest of this week's mix here.

Enjoy and be fruitful!

- Jeff Koelemay


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