Few more months and then, summer is here!! Yay!!
Summer = mangoes = yumminess!!
But for the rest of they year, you are still left waiting badly for yummy mangoes.
But then, you walk through the freezer aisles one day…You see brightly colored packets featuring juicy mango images in the front. You look at smoothie recipes in the back and they promise you tasty smoothies. A voice in your head tells you, “I don’t think this is a good idea, you have tried frozen mango before and it sucked!!” But, you push the voice aside, proudly scan the product and go home dreaming of sweet, creamy mango things!!
Only to be disappointed once more….
Before we go bashing the manufacturers, can we celebrate the progress achieved?
Here is the part of ‘frozen mango’ food technology I love so far.
The frozen mango is just frozen mango, not coated with a ton of sugar….I’m looking at you, canned mangoes – you over-sugared product!!
(Yes, I recognize there are some cans that have no added sugar, but they are a small minority. Majority have so much sugar, dear lord!!)
Coming back to the advantages of frozen mango: It looks like a fresh cut mango, no color has changed between when it was plucked/manufactured and when I eat it at my home many months later.
Plus it has already been peeled and cut into cubes by a combination of people and machines. No sticky cutting boards or knife issues for me. A ripe mango is soft and sticky, yet I can dip my hand into a packet of frozen mango and retrieve individual cubes. How amazing is that??
And I know, it is easy to sit in the comfort of my home and blog about how awful frozen mango is. When in reality, food processing companies have many engineers and workers working hard to bring us this product.
This is a quote from Cleshawn Montague, spokesperson of a company that does the large scale of freezing mangoes: “The OctoFrost team has developed a couple of vital tips and tricks when it comes to processing – Individual Quick Freezing (IQF) Mango:
- A tunnel freezer designed with up to five freezing zones that quickly freeze the surface of the fruit pieces. Avoids any dehydration and lump formation.
- No belt marks will be found on the product surface
- No damage on the corners of the product
- Separate the products (using pulsator, bed vibrator or the wave plate)
Here’s a video that shows the manufacturing of frozen mango in detail:
All this is super impressive to the science nerd in me.
But as a mango-loving consumer, I am not thinking about all the effort gone into this. All I am thinking about is how tasty is the product?
The Indian in me wants a ripe, juicy mango that drips its juices down my hand as I eat it. I would never even consider chopping them up into cubes myself because I will be too busy sucking it like a Neanderthal (Anyone who cannot envision this, has not eaten a properly ripe, sweet mango ever!!) More importantly, I love mangoes when it has reached that super soft stage when it cannot be cut into straight cornered cubes anymore. Just random shapes, with juices dripping out!!
And that I believe is the core of the problem. Mango, bananas, and avocadoes are best when they are at their ripe-est. However, the ripeness is a biochemical reaction where lots of things are happening in the fruit like it is getting sweeter, the cell walls are losing their hardness, their shelf life is dramatically going down, etc. So, understand-ably the food manufacturers would rather deal with the fruit before it reaches this peak-drama period and becomes harder to process.
To allow a mango to come to this stage of ripeness and then expect a big grocery chain to distribute that in the form of frozen mango is not a reasonable request from science and engineering yet.
How come some frozen fruits are so awesome though?
I love frozen food technology. And, in the world of fruits, I especially stock without any regret, in fact with much delight, the following frozen fruit:
- Fruits that don’t need to be cut or peeled (Like blueberries, blackberries, raspberries)
Frozen Berries, especially the small kind are very good. I think it is due to the fact that the berries are already so small that nobody has to cut them up before freezing.
You see, freezing makes ice crystals of all the water inside the fruits. Most fruits have 80% plus water content. These ice crystals pierce the cell walls and obliterate tissue integrity. That is a lot of stress you are placing on the fruit. Fruits that don’t get cut or peeled seem to have at least some sort of protection from the freezing process and retains their natural traits the most.
How do you plan on using the fruit is the other question you need to ask yourselves? Most fruits lose their shape when they thaw due to damage to the cell wall from the ice crystals in the frozen state..
But in the case of berries – I either make smoothies out of them, jam or pie. In all these cases I was going to break up the shape with blending or heat. So, I don’t care about the thawed fruit texture.
Plus, frozen berries are much cheaper and tastier than fresh berries since freezing factories are often located near the fields and packed right away. That’s better than the few days it takes for the berries to reach our local stores from the fields.
- Cut fruit that retains its structure beautifully – e.g. frozen pineapple
The one exception to the cutting rule (that I can think of) is the fruit that seems to hold its shape well even after it ripens and never brown – the wonderous pineapple. I am not a huge pineapple fan, but I always stock Trader Joe’s frozen pineapple. My mom makes delicious pineapple rasam with them and I make smoothies. My kids eat them straight out of the bag.
The pineapple is truly a wondrous fruit – did you know pineapple juice is used as a coating on other fruits (like apple slices, banana etc) to prevent them from browning?
That’s it from me today…For now, I think I will do my usual binge mangoes when they are fresh and in season. Maybe, that’s the way it ought to be…
Except that my husband (sigh!) buys like 12 of them in bulk. “You like them, don’t you?”, he says with a grin. I watch them carefully, yet they all ripen around the same time. Then panic sets in on ‘how not to waste’ this delicious golden fruit and one encourages all family members/neighbors/passersby’s to eat mango at every opportunity, am I right? 🙂
Do, post your comments below on your thoughts about mango and frozen mangoes. By the way, have you checked out this wonderful way to peel mangoes using a glass edge? Can’t wait to try out this tip this summer!!