Why is it that the most delicious fruits (pineapple, mango, watermelon) are the biggest pain to cut? Could it be that the juicy flesh inside is truly worth the squeeze? As a pregnant woman living in Mexico, ripe mangoes have been my strongest craving—I sometimes eat two in a day. Street vendors peddle cups of the bright fruit, offering chile, lime, and salt as toppings. I’ve watched, awestruck, as they saber the orange orbs into juicy portions within seconds. Although the Mexican mango cart method involves inserting a metal stick into the bottom of the fruit to hold it steady and away from your body before deftly slicing peel from flesh and flesh from pit, it’s helped me come to my own most efficient method.
There are a few internet-popular techniques for cutting mangoes, including one that uses a glass to separate the skin from its flesh after cutting away from the pit (cool idea, but results are definitely not as clean as using a knife or Y-peeler), and another involving cutting pieces from either side of the pit, then scoring the flesh of each side—like some do with avocado halves—before flipping the peel inside out and cutting the diced pieces from the peel. Holding the mango half in one hand and the knife in the other feels like a recipe for “mango hand”, and besides, you don’t always want your fruit diced, do you?
My tried-and-true method is below—but first, make sure you have a ripe mango.
How to Pick a Ripe Mango
A ripe mango should give slightly when squeezed, but not so much so that your fingers leave an imprint or the flesh feels mushy beneath the peel. Flesh should be relatively firm, not wrinkled, and free of spots (overripe mangoes are especially slippery to cut). If the fruit feels hard to the touch, let it ripen on the counter for a few days before cutting into it.
How to Cut a Mango
1. Set your mango on its side on a cutting board, and with a sharp knife (dull knives are dangerous!), trim off both stem ends. Stand the fruit upright (bottom stem-side down)—it should stand up on a flat bottom.
2. Gripping the mango with your free hand on one of its sides and curling your fingertips under your hand so they’re out of reach of your knife, begin to peel the skin away from the flesh from top to bottom. Once you’ve peeled one side, rotate the mango to complete the job.
3. Next, align the knife slightly to the left side of the mango’s top center. Carefully slice down through the flesh, on one side of the pit. If your knife encounters the pit, reposition it further to the left—as you become more expert, you may curve your knife around the pit as you go. Separate the left lobe from the pit, rotate the mango 180 degrees, and do the same thing to the right lobe.
4. The flesh that’s still attached to the pit can be sliced off in pieces, top to bottom. You should end up with two large lobes plus a bunch of smaller trimmings. From here, you can dice, slice vertically or horizontally, or just go to town.
If you still want to try one of the other mango cutting methods, here’s one:
And the mango glass trick is the third method demonstrated below:
If you cut mango without peeling it first, be sure to wash it well, or else you could drive surface bacteria to the fruit’s flesh.
Now that you know how to get to that sweet orange meat, here are some mouth-watering mango recipes, both sweet and savory:
In Mexico, fresh fruit is often accompanied by a dash of Tajín seasoning, a blend of chili pepper, lime and salt. This refreshing popsicle recipe is a take on that palate-awakening combination. Get our Mango and Cayenne Paletas recipe.
Farro, a chewy whole grain, makes a surprising substitute for oats in this hearty breakfast porridge. The addition of coconut and fresh mango lend a tropical brightness to a perfect winter breakfast. Get our Coconut Farro Porridge with Mango recipe.
Mango’s tart notes make it ideal in applications like this light salad made with lump crab. Creamy avocado and a sweet-and-spicy vinaigrette complete the meal. Get our Crab Salad with Mango, Avocado, and Lemon-Herb Dressing recipe.
This refreshing slaw-style salad is spicy, crunchy, and tart. Cayenne, lime, and cilantro take mango and grapefruit all the way to savory-town. Get our Spicy Jicama, Grapefruit, and Mango Salad recipe.
Header image courtesy of ThaiThu/Shutterstock.