The essential problem of mangoes is that they’re seasonal. This leads to Problem One: out of season mangoes are tasteless. Which leads to Problem Two: due to the demand in the North American market for year-round fruit, mango growers have switched to the Tommy Atkins variety of mango. Atkins mangoes are tough, resistant to all disease, easy to grow year around, and are also stringy and basically tasteless. They’re doing for mangoes what McDonald’s has done for the hamburger, says Da Cook. And 80% of the world’s mango production is now Tommy Atkins. Don’t you just love market forces?
If you want to experience the full glory of pure, nectar-like mango, you’ll have to do some searching. Concentrate on Asian and Latino supermarkets, and go in season. The king of fruits, explains Da Cook, is the Alphonso–it’s a beautiful, creamy yellow-orange, has a custardy texture, and will show up soon, in the spring. In South Asian markets, also look for Dasheri and Langada varieties–they’re very aromatic, and have paper-thin skins.
Also try some of the small Ataulfo mangoes, also known as champagne mangoes. They’re small, uniformly yellow or gold, and they’re just starting to be imported into the US from Mexico.
Basically, explains JMF, there are about 500 varieties of mangoes in the world. And they’re almost all delicious–except for the Atkins.