How to: Peel a Mango

Originating in India, the mango made its way to the New World centuries ago. This fruit is deliciously versatile and excellent for you. I don't know how many varieties there are, but I do know that I can think of at least 10 different types available in Panama. Some are extraordinary, while others are considered poor quality and snubbed. Now that I live in Houston, I cherish every mango I can get my mango-eating hands on.

Although it is a very popular fruit in more tropical climates, not everyone here in Houston may know how to pick and peel this bundle of joy. Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing your mango.

I prefer to pick green mangoes and allow them to ripen at home. It takes some patience, but it is well worth the torture. I've had more misses than successes when I've picked ripe ones; you run the chance of having a fruit that is too ripe, bruised, blemished and just not great-tasting. So, if you have a couple of days, get it hard and green, then stare at it to hasten the ripening. Every so often you can sniff and squeeze, but be gentle; mangoes don't like it rough. When it smells insanely sweet, its time to eat. Depending on the variety you get, the skin will be a mottled orange-red.

Peel that sucker. You can go the basic way, like you would peel an apple, just round and round the fruit. Simple enough. Or you can fancify it, make your friends think you studied at the feet of Michelangelo. Here's how to do that.

Stabilize it: there's a large pit right in the middle of the mango. One end of the mango is rounded and the other slightly pointy. Trim the rounded side so you have a flat surface to stand the mango and keep all your fingers.

Then run a knife on one side of the pointy end and work it down. Then do the same to the other cheek.

Once you have two halves, score them across. Be careful not to cut too deeply, you don't want your knife to cut through the peel.

Flip it and score it in the opposite direction. Again, mind the peel.

Once both sides have been scored, hold one of the cheeks with both hands and gently push in, from the bottom/skin side. Pretty, huh? They call this the hedgehog method, but who wants to think about that while trying to eat?

You can cut the cubes with the knife or you can tear them off with your fingers. Then peel the section with the pit, there's a lot of meat there too. Hurry, eat it, or drink it.

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