So what use is it?
Well, you'll find several websites telling you how to peel, and slice, a mango. But the ones I found provided only the basic information. Once you actually try it, it's a guessing game, and you're on your own. So, I made my own instructions.
First, make sure the mangoes are nice and ripe. Typically, you will want to ripen them for several days, or even a week or more.
When you get them at the store, they're probably hard as a rock. Make sure all the ones you buy are equally hard, so they will all ripen at the same time.
Bring them home from the store and put them in a brown paper bag, one about twice the volume of the mangoes. Roll the end up nice and tightly, and set the bag aside for a few days. When they're ripe, you should be able to poke them gently, and feel your finger leave about a 1/4" depression. Too ripe is better than not ripe.
Now that they're ripe, take a look at one first, while it is whole.
- Put the mango on a plate. Let it lie there naturally, with the stem end to your left, and the tip end to your right.
- Look at the mango, from above. See the oval shape, with the stem at one end? What you're looking at is a half inch or so of juicy sweet fruit, surrounding a huge seed. The seed is oval too, and roughly the shape of the outer fruit. Remember this shape.
- Look at the mango, from either end. You'll see that it is not round, in crossection - it's more of a flattened oval. That's the shape of the seed too. Remember this shape.
- Soak the mango in some nice anti-bacterial dish washing detergent. Just like soaking dishes - a drop or two of detergent, fill a container with water, get a good head of foam, and drop the mango in there. Let it soak for an hour or so, take it out and rinse thoroughly.
- Take a plain potato peeler, and peel the skin off the mango, just like off a potato. This will be a sticky job, so organise as much as possible. Get all the needed tools out and on the counter before you start, and plan on ending up with your hands covered in mango juice.
- Take a freshly peeled mango, and put it in the palm of your hand, with the stem end towards your wrist, so it's flat in your hand (remember looking at the flat shape from above, in the step above?).
- Take a nice sharp utility knife, and cut thru the flat side of the mango, in the middle, towards the palm of your hand. Don't worry - you will NOT cut thru the seed - your hand is safe. Do this in two or three places up and down the flat side. This should give you an idea how deep the seed is. In most cases, you'll get maybe 1/4 way thru one side before hitting the seed.
- Now that you know where the seed is, you know how deep to cut into the mango. Start at the end opposite the stem (remember looking at the mango from above, in the step above?), and cut towards the stem, and parallel to the wide flat side of the seed. Just run the knife down the flat side of the seed, to the stem end. You now have 1 piece of mango, oval, maybe 1/2" deep, the size of one side.
- Turn the mango over, and repeat.
- Next, cut a couple narrow strips of fruit off the sides of the seed.
- Put the 4 pieces in a bowl, and the seed in another bowl. Next, peel and slice another, in the same way. Don't just throw the seeds away.
When you finish peeling and slicing each mango, go outside with the bowl of seeds. There will be plenty of fruit sticking to the seeds, that you will never get with a knife, but you can with your teeth. Just don't try inside your house, cause this is messy. Think sucking the cherry or plum off the seed, except you won't be able to get your mouth closed with the seed in it. So you'll have mango juice everywhere, which is why I said
Don't try this inside the house.
But the sweetest part of the mango is next to the seed.
Now, my instructions are for those folks who live in the USA, where mangoes might be on sale for 50c each, if you're lucky; in some cases you could pay up to $2.00 each. In Australia or Thailand, where they sell for maybe 10c each, my bud Bob provides this picture tutorial ThaiPan: One way to Prepare a Mango. He's a bit more casual with the knife, and with the precious fruit.