What Are Ataulfo Mangoes?
Sometimes when people ask me what I do for fun, I tell them I go to the grocery store. It’s probably the fastest way to get a skeptical eyebrow lifted in your direction, but with all those aisles, all that produce, and all those labels to read, it’s true! And I’m not alone in my affection.
Going to the grocery on a regular basis — I’m talking about two to three times a week here — means I’m pretty tuned into the things that come and go, how they are displayed, and how grocery stores promote them. And right now, it’s full-on mango extravaganza — especially for Ataulfo mangoes. You might see it labeled as honey mango or in some cases champagne mango, but name aside this mango is king among its kind. Here’s what they taste like and some tips on buying, storing, and enjoying them.
A Sweet and Creamy Mango with a Buttery Texture
If you’re used to the more fibrous Tommy Atkins mango, probably the most popular variety in the states, then the Ataulfo or honey mango might shock you with its creamy, custardy texture. Unlike that fibrous variety, this mango is buttery and, well, pretty elegant in texture — especially when it reaches peak ripeness. That alone makes it a favorite for eating out of hand, but it’s also amazing for smoothies and shakes. I made a lassi with one recently and it was near perfection.
It’s All in the Name
Originally these mangoes where named after the grower responsible for the variety, Ataulfo Morales Gordillo, and while you might still find that name in grocery stores, honey mango and champagne is used with increasing frequency. The origin designation of these mangoes remains protected by the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property, much in the same way Champagne is protected in France.
How to Pick a Perfect Mango
Mango selection requires your attention. When I’m selecting one from the grocery store, I always think about what Heidi of 101 Cookbooks says about avocados — she spends more time selecting avocados for guacamole than actually preparing it. The same goes for mangoes. Here’s what to look for.
- Touch over appearance: Color isn’t the best indicator of ripeness for mangoes, so instead get a little handsy. A ripe mango will give when firmly squeezed, very much in the same way a peach or avocado would. You’re looking for just a bit of softness, not mush.
- Smell it: The aroma of a mango is by far one of its most intoxicating qualities. Give your mango a whiff. It should have a pretty pronounced smell. Usually I’m reminded to buy mangoes when the smell hits me at the grocery store.
Storing mangoes isn’t too different from most soft-textured fruits, but I’m always amazed at how resilient they are. You can get a whole week out of them when stored correctly.
- Whole ripe mangoes: If your mangoes are ripe, you probably should eat them right away! If you need to hold off a day, stick them in the fridge to slow the ripening process. This is the same principle we follow with most fruits. Five days is the max for storing in the fridge before they start to get all wrinkly.
- Whole unripe mangoes: Similarly, you can ripen a mango by sticking it in a brown paper bag to accelerate the process. Check it every day to see when it’s ready.
- Cut mangos: You can store cut mangoes in the fridge for about a week, or freeze them using this method for up to six months.
Read more: How To Cut a Mango
Timing Mango Ripeness
Recently our friend Elizabeth Barbone shared her method for picking a slew of mangoes that would ripen in order, one day at a time. If you’re up for a daily mango treat, her method — definitely a pro-level move — is such a fun idea.
Using Ataulfo Mangoes
My recommendation is to just slice and dice these mangoes once they are ripe. A sprinkle of tajín, the chile-lime salt popular in Mexico, never hurt either. These mangoes are delicious in smoothies and all blended drinks, and make one hell of a salsa for Taco Tuesday.