Kathy Maister's Start Cooking

How to Cut a Mango

posted in Fruits by Kathy Maister

A mango is one of those fruits that people avoid buying because they don’t know how to cut them. I’ll show you two different ways to cut a mango.

Mangos are great with just about anything. (Chicken, fish, salsa, pancakes, smoothies, on ice cream, fruit salad, etc.) They are low in calories, can be eaten fresh or cooked and are really tasty.

They are in season from May to September. When you buy a mango, it should have a fragrant, fruity aroma and yield slightly to pressure from your thumb. It will ripen sitting on your counter, or you can speed the ripening process by sticking it in a paper bag. Once ripe, put it in the refrigerator. A mango should get eaten within a day or two of being cut.

To cut a mango, start with a serrated edge knife. (That’s the one with the jagged edge that you use to cut a loaf of bread.)  Mangos are very slippery and you have to be very careful when peeling a mango that the knife does not slip.

Slice off the fattest part, sometimes called the “cheek”, of both sides of the mango. Notice in the photo below the position of the knife in relationship to the stem. (The stem is next to my left index finger.)

Now score the “cheek”. That means to make shallow cuts with a paring knife. Make each cut about ½ inch apart, and then turn the “cheek” and make perpendicular cuts as well.

Once scored, press the back side of the mango so that all the flesh is standing at attention. You can serve it this way or trim off the flesh from the skin.

Cut around the pit with a small paring knife.

Remove the remaining skin from the flesh.

Trim around the pit to remove the remaining flesh.

The pit is actually quite large as you can see from the photo below.

The Alton Brown Way to Peel and Cut a Mango:

I was watching Alton Brown on FoodTV demonstrating how to peel and cut a mango. His method actually produced more edible flesh, and was safe and efficient.  But you do need a few more pieces of equipment for the Alton Brown method.

Corn-on-the-Cob Holders

In addition to a large kitchen knife, you will need a vegetable peeler and a corn-on-the-cob holder.

Start by peeling the mango with a vegetable peeler

Then slice off the top (stem end) and bottom of the mango.

Insert a corn holder into the mango.  This is going to act as a holder while you slice the mango. Notice how the mango can stand by itself!

Holding the corn holder, slice off the cheeks.

And trim the flesh off the pit.

Then slice the mango according to your recipe.

Enjoy!

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Apple Picking

posted in Fruits by Kathy Maister

There are a gazillion different varieties of apples. When traveling overseas, I am often at a loss choosing apples as the varieties available in Europe and Australia are often very different from those sold here in the States.

Apples like Granny Smiths and Braeburns are usually available worldwide, but many other varieties are only available locally.

Different kinds of apples vary in taste and texture, which determine what they are used for. Apples are basically divided into three categories:

  1. Eating
  2. Cooking
  3. Cooking and / or Eating

Many stores have signs telling you how best to use the apples.

If you are unsure which ones to buy ask the Produce Person for help.

When cooking things like apple pie or apple crisp (video) the apples should end up being tender and soft to the bite, but still retain their shape. If you choose to cook with apples that are described just as *eating* apples, the recipe probably won’t come out that great. The apples may turn to a watery mush.

Apples used for cooking versus apples that you eat for a snack, vary considerably in how sweet or tart they are.

Granny Smiths are too tart for me to eat but I love cooking with them. Braeburns are both tart and sweet and crisp and are great for eating and cooking.

Cooking apples, like Bramley, Newton Wonder, and Grenadier (English varieties) are very sour and basically used just for cooking.

Tips for Working with Apples

  • Buy apples that are smooth and free of bruises.
  • If you are adding apples to fruit salad be sure to coat them with lemon or orange juice to prevent them from turning brown.
  • Apples will last longer if you store them in the refrigerator rather then leaving them on the counter top.
  • Put an apple in a paper bag with an avocado to help ripen the avocado.
  • A vegetable peeler works really well for peeling an apple.

How to Core an Apple

(In my Apple Crisp Video I demonstrate all the various ways one can core an apple.)

There are many ways to core an apple. You could slice around the core with a large knife.

Or you could use a melon baler to scoop out the core.

Or you could use an official apple corer. This odd looking utensil gets pushed down into the apple. (Be sure to leave the apple on the cutting board or you might end up coring the palm of your hand!)

Then you just pull out the core.

While people have preferences for different kinds, everybody loves apples!

Cheers!

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How to Cut a Pineapple

posted in Fruits by Kathy Maister

You can buy either whole pineapples or pre-cut fresh pineapples in the produce section of the grocery store. In my grocery store it costs almost $2 more to buy the precut pineapple.

The mighty pineapple is really easy to slice, as long as you have a big sharp knife.

Start by removing the top

Then the bottom

With the pineapple sitting firmly on the cutting board, start slicing off the outer layer of skin.

Then cut it into slices.

Trim out the very center as it tends to be very tough to chew.

The juicy, sweet, and tangy flavor makes it a great addition to fruit salads or fruit kabobs.

If you are making a gelatin fruit salad (Jell-O!) you have to use canned pineapple. The natural enzymes in fresh (and frozen) pineapple do not allow the gelatin to set.

Be sure to buy pineapples that have crisp green leaves and feels uniformly soft to the touch. Specific soft spots means the pineapple has started to go off.

Pineapples do not continue to ripen, or get any sweeter off the vine. Uncut, kept at room temperature, the acidity levels will decrease.

Be sure to wrap up leftovers tightly in plastic wrap. They should last about 3 days in the refrigerator.

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