PRODUCE PICKS: TROPICAL TREATS--MANGOS AND PAPAYAS

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By Greg Dunne

Recipes:  mango and papaya salsa with optional shrimp,  and tropical fruit salad with honey-line toss (photo, left)

July 26, 2018 (Alpine) -- The mango and papaya are tropical delights! The fragrant sweet juiciness when slicing into and eating a mango is like no other fruit! The “King of Fruits” is rightfully given that name. Fresh mangos sliced and chilled in the refrigerator are like a sugar rush when eating them – at least it’s not a refined sugar, but a natural sugar from the mango.

Picking out a ripe, ready to eat mango is simple. There are 4 types of mangos we see on the market. Haden, Kent, Tommy Atkins and Ataulfo mangos. It’s difficult to tell the first three types of mangos apart but Ataulfo mangos are totally different and smaller. When I’m picking out a mango to eat I look for some color on the outside other than green, a reddish color and slightly soft. But when I say slightly soft, I mean just not hard on the outside. Also, a green mango can be very tasty, if it has substantial size with a slight give and not rock hard.

Of the first three varieties of mangos, the Tommy Atkins is the only one that can be disappointing. It can be stringy and fibrous and not nearly as good as the Haden or Kent variety. This time of year, mangos are plentiful and most (if not all) of the mangos we see on the market are the Kent and Haden varieties. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to tell them apart without cutting them open. You can also ask the produce clerk which variety of mango is offered, although he or she may not know unless they look at the box they came in.

The Ataulfo mango (also known as the Champagne mango) is totally different than the other “round” mangos we see. The Ataulfo is much smaller and is more oblong than round and is generally completely yellow on the outside. When it is completely yellow on the outside, just slightly soft to the touch and maybe even a slight wrinkled on the skin, it’s ready to eat. Ataulfo Mangos are super sweet and are my favorite.  They are significantly smaller and so there is not as much flesh to them.  However, they are usually less expensive than their counter parts and therefore you can buy a couple more.

Mangos are so sweet, but we don’t want to forget how good they are for you. They contain generous amounts of Vitamins C and A and help in promoting good eye sight. Tests have found Mangos are also good for lowering cholesterol levels. Nutritionally, papayas are also very good for you and are one of the better things we can eat for good health in our digestive system.  Papayas are rich in fiber, Vitamin C and antioxidants which prevent cholesterol build up in your arteries. Papaya also boosts your immunity and protect against arthritis. 

The main varieties of papayas are the Hawaiian, Brazilian and Maradol papayas. The Maradol papayas are the larger papayas we see at the market. The Hawaiian and Brazil are the smaller “pear shaped” papayas we see. The Hawaiian and Brazilian are the Cadillac of papayas, completely yellow on the outside when ready to eat. These two fruits are my favorites to add to my smoothies. Benjamin Hernandez the produce manager at Barons Market with a box of Brazilian papayas ready to go. 

Mango and Papaya Salsa

The mix of this sweet and tangy salsa and grilled salmon together create a burst of complimenting flavors.  The leftover salsa can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 3 days – if you choose to include Avocado in your recipe there is plenty of lime juice to prevent oxidation. 

Ingredients

  • 1 ripe mango, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 ripe papaya, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 ripe avocado, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (optional)
  • 3 scallions, chopped (include green part)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 jalapeño, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Directions

Stir all ingredients in a medium size mixing bowl.  Makes about 3 to 4 cups.

Shrimp Salad with Mango and Papaya Salsa

Another satisfying combination for this salsa is to mix with shrimp for a refreshing summer salad.  Serve on a bed of your favorites greens.  Shown here is a pairing with a simple spring mix, Persian cucumbers, grape tomatoes and red onion. 

Tropical Fruit Salad with Honey-Lime Toss

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe mangoes, peeled, cut into thin wedges
  • 1/2 ripe papaya, peeled, cut into thin wedges
  • 1/2 small pineapple, peeled, cut into thin wedges
  • 1 ripe dragon fruit, peeled, cut into thin wedges
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 2 limes, grate peel and juiced (approximately 1/4 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon honey

Directions

  1. Mix together lime juice, lime zest and honey.  To mix well you may want to warm the honey before adding to the lime juice.  Set aside
  2. Combine fruit and mint leaves in a medium size mixing bowl and gently stir in honey-lime mixture. 
  3. Garnish with additional mint leaves. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving, if time permits.