Mangoes, often hailed as the "king of fruits", are a sweet and succulent tropical delight enjoyed by people around the world. While the juicy mango flesh is what typically steals the spotlight, there's a part of this fruit that often goes unnoticed: the skin. Mango skins come in various colors and textures, depending on the variety, but have you ever wondered if they are safe to eat?
Is Mango Skin Edible?
Edibility and Taste
Mango skin is, in fact, edible, but it is not typically consumed in many parts of the world due to its tough, fibrous texture and slightly bitter taste. While it's not a common practice to eat the skin, there are some considerations that make it a potentially worthwhile addition to your diet.
The taste of mango skin can vary depending on the mango variety. Here are some general characteristics:
1. Sweetness: The skin of ripe mangoes can have a slightly sweet flavor, which contrasts with the overall sweeter taste of the flesh. This sweetness can be more pronounced in some mango varieties than others.
2. Bitterness: Mango skin can also have a hint of bitterness, which is more noticeable in certain mango types. The bitterness may be less pronounced in ripe mangoes.
3. Texture: The skin is notably tougher and fibrous compared to the soft and juicy flesh. This texture can make it less appealing for some people.
Variations in Taste Based on Mango Varieties:
Mango varieties differ significantly in their taste and texture, and this extends to their skin as well. Some mango varieties have skin that is more palatable than others. Here are a few examples:
1. Ataulfo Mango: Also known as the champagne mango, Ataulfo mangoes have a thinner and less fibrous skin compared to other varieties. This makes the skin easier to eat, but it still retains a slightly bitter taste.
2. Keitt Mango: Keitt mangoes have thicker skin with a mild, less bitter taste when compared to some other varieties. It's still relatively tough but can be more palatable.
3. Alphonso Mango: The skin of the Alphonso mango, often considered one of the best-tasting mangoes, is typically more bitter and fibrous. Many prefer to peel this variety before eating.
4. Tommy Atkins Mango: The skin of Tommy Atkins mangoes is quite thick and fibrous, and it can be notably bitter. As a result, most people prefer not to eat the skin of this variety.
Mango skin, often overlooked, offers a surprising array of health benefits. Rich in dietary fiber, it promotes healthy digestion, keeps you feeling full, and prevents constipation. This vibrant peel is a treasure trove of essential vitamins and minerals, including immune-boosting vitamin C, skin-loving vitamin A, and a spectrum of B vitamins. But it doesn't stop there - mango skin is packed with antioxidants like quercetin, fisetin, and more, which combat free radicals, reduce oxidative stress, and contribute to overall well-being.
Furthermore, some studies hint at the presence of polyphenols and phytonutrients in the skin, showcasing anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting prowess. If you're looking to reduce food waste and savor the whole mango, don't miss out on these hidden nutritional gems.
Ways to Eat Mango Skin
Raw Mango Skin
To prepare and consume raw mango skin, follow these steps:
- Choose the Right Mango Variety: Not all mango varieties are ideal for consuming raw skin due to variations in taste and texture. Look for mango varieties with thinner and less fibrous skin, such as the Ataulfo (champagne) mango. These are easier to enjoy with the skin on.
- Wash Thoroughly: Rinse the mango skin thoroughly under running water to remove any potential contaminants, like pesticides or dirt. A gentle scrub with a vegetable brush can help ensure cleanliness.
- Slice or Dice: Slice or dice the mango, ensuring you cut through the skin as well. The skin can be slightly tough, so smaller, bite-sized pieces can be more manageable.
- Enjoy: Simply take a bite of the mango, including the skin. Depending on the variety and ripeness, you'll experience a combination of sweetness and a subtle bitter note. The skin adds an extra layer of texture and flavor to your mango-eating experience.
Pickled Mango Skin
Pickled mango skin is a delightful and tangy treat that's popular in many cultures. To make pickled mango skin, follow these simple steps:
- Select Ripe Mangoes: Choose ripe mangoes with thin, less fibrous skins, like Ataulfo mangoes, for the best results. These are easier to peel and pickle.
- Peel the Mangoes: Carefully peel the mangoes, ensuring you remove the skin in long, thin strips. You can use a vegetable peeler for this purpose.
- Cut into Strips: Cut the mango skin into thin strips or julienne them to your desired size.
- Prepare the Brine: In a saucepan, combine water, vinegar, sugar, and spices like red pepper flakes, mustard seeds, and cloves. Bring the mixture to a boil, then let it cool.
- Add the Mango Skin: Place the mango skin strips into a clean, sterile jar, then pour the cooled brine over them, ensuring they are fully submerged.
- Seal and Store: Seal the jar tightly and store it in a cool, dark place for a few days to allow the flavors to meld and the mango skin to absorb the tangy goodness of the brine.
Flavors and Uses:
Pickled mango skin offers a delightful combination of sweet, tangy, and spicy flavors. The pickling process infuses the mango skin with the zing of vinegar, the sweetness of sugar, and the heat of spices, creating a unique taste profile.
Pickled mango skin can be enjoyed in various ways:
- As a Snack: It's a perfect snack on its own, offering a burst of flavor in every bite.
- Condiment: You can use pickled mango skin as a condiment or relish, pairing it with sandwiches, burgers, or grilled meats.
- Salads: Add it to salads to bring a sweet and tangy twist to your greens.
- Side Dish: It can serve as a side dish or accompaniment to a variety of dishes, enhancing the overall meal with its vibrant taste.
Risks and Precautions
Pesticides and contaminants can pose potential risks when consuming mangoes, especially when eating the skin. Many mangoes are treated with pesticides during cultivation to protect them from pests and diseases, leaving residues that can linger on the skin. Ingesting pesticides can be harmful to your health. Moreover, mangoes may come into contact with dirt, dust, and bacteria during harvesting, transportation, or storage. If not cleaned properly, these contaminants can transfer to the mango peels. Sometimes, the mango fruit is also coated with food-grade wax to enhance its appearance and shelf life, which can seal contaminants beneath the wax.
Ultimately, eating mango skin is a matter of personal preference. With the right precautions and a taste for adventure, you can experience the full spectrum of mango flavors and nutritional benefits, skin, and all. So, the next time you indulge in this tropical fruit, don't hesitate to explore the possibilities and add a little extra zest to your mango-eating experience.