Much as I hate summer in this part of the world, there’s one thing about it I really love: mangoes. Seriously, I have yet to meet a Filipino who doesn’t like these delicious, heart-shaped lumps of fragrant golden sweetness.
Come the end of April and the early part of May, market stalls are full of fat yellow mangoes from various places. If you’re from Luzon, these will most likely come from either Antipolo or Zambales; southerners will get theirs shipped from Cebu and Guimaras. However, I would advise caveat emptor as far as store-bought mangoes are concerned. Just because a mango is yellow is no true indication that it’s going to be sweet because some farmers chemically ripen the fruit with kalburo (calcium carbonate) to make them look gorgeous. Unfortunately, the addition of kalburo also results in an almost unbearably tart fruit.
I was telling a friend of mine earlier today that touch and smell rather than appearance should be the primary considerations with regard to choosing really good mangoes. Ripe fruit should be medium-soft to the touch: not too firm but not too squishy either. A properly ripe fruit that will definitely taste sweet should exude a sweet smell from its stem end (the fatter, broader end of the fruit). It can be a yellowish green on the outside (for fleshy carabao mangoes), a vivid orange (in the case of piko mangoes), or have a red blush similar to a ripe peach (the apple mangoes common to Manila’s southern suburbs).
It is easy to get fat, middle-sized mangoes at one’s local market or the supermarket. But one of the best things about living in the suburbs…
…is that tree-ripened mangoes from local backyards are easily twice – even thrice – the size of the store-bought ones. ;P
Enjoy the mango season, y’all!