My dried mango addiction
I've got a confession to make. I'm addicted to dried mango. I can't remember how it started, but I definitely hit a low point one London winter, where I compensated for the lack of sun by eating my way through a 100 gram packet of dried mango every day.
Although delicious, my dried mango habit caused a few problems - firstly, it was expensive. At £2 per packet, I was spending over £50 a month on dried mango, at a stage in my life when I had very little disposable income. And despite being natural, dried mango also contains heaps of sugar, so I can't imagine I was doing myself any favours nutritionally.
On moving back to Australia I was faced with a whole new dried mango dilemma; I couldn't find any I liked. The supermarket brands contained added sugar or preservatives that gave the mango a crystallised consistency. On the odd occasion I did find straight dried mango for sale, I'd go crazy and buy huge bags of it at a time. It'd be rationed... over several minutes.
One day it clicked - living in a country full of amazing fruit, I should dry my own mango. So I got a dehydrator and here we are.
Drying your own mango is a reasonably straight forward process. Here's how I approach it.
The gear you'll need
- Dehydrator - I've got this Excalibur dehydrator
- Silicon liner for a dehydrator tray (only needed if you want to make mango leather) - I use these Excalibur Paraflexx sheets
- Chopping board
- Blender (only needed if you want to make mango leather)
Fresh mangos - 12 mangos yielded me 230g of dried mango and 120g of mango leather. You want your mangos to be ripe and ready to eat, but not over ripe. The better the fresh mango, the better your dried mango will be.
What to do
Prepare the mango - The mango shrinks on drying, so you don't want the pieces too small. 2cm wide x 1-2cm thick x the length of mango cheek works well.
Regarding consistency, you've got two options here - if you want uniformed pieces of dried mango, you'll need your pieces to be close to the same shape and thickness so they dry evenly. On the other hand, leaving your pieces in a variety of sizes will give you some chewier pieces and some drier pieces - this is my personal preference.
My cutting technique:
- Cut the mango into thirds, trying to get the middle third as close to the pip as possible.
- Taking care not to cut through the skin, slice the flesh on the two cheeks into four pieces, lengthways (so, three cuts).
- Flip the skin inside out and then slice the mango slices off the skin. Do this over a bowl to capture any juice.
- Hold the middle third over the bowl. Slice the skin and peel off. Use your knife to slice pieces of mango from around the pip. If they're big enough, put them aside to dry. If not, drop them in the bowl. Be careful, as it all gets a bit slippery and you don't want a finger in with your mango.
- Once you've cut what you can off the pip, hold the pip in your hands over the bowl and squeeze / rub it to get any juice and last bits of flesh off it.
Drying the mango
1. Lie the mango in a single layer on your dehydrator trays.
2. Blend your bowl of juice and cutaways. 12 mangos gave me 700ml of blended pulp.
3. Spread the mango pulp on a dehydrator tray lined with a silicon liner. There's no need to oil the liner.
4. Place trays in a dehydrator and dry at 135°F. How long to dry mango for varies greatly by the temperature and humidity where you are. If you're unsure, start with eight hours. Summer in Sydney is really humid - I've had to dry mango for over 18 hours before to get it dry enough to store, so don't be off put if it needs more time.
When done, the mango leather should be of a consistency where you can tear and roll pieces of it. It will still be sticky to touch.
The dried mango pieces should be dry to touch. On cutting one open, the middle should be dry. You may find that the pieces develop air bubbles in them, which is fine.
To test if the mango still has too much moisture in it, put a couple of warm pieces in a zip lock bag and seal it. If condensation forms on the bag, the mango is too moist and needs longer in the dehydrator.
Store the mango and mango leather in air-tight containers, somewhere cool and dark. The mango will keep for over a year if dried properly. Although if you're anything like me it won't last that long - I finished off my 12 dried mangos in under a week, and even that took restraint.
We've got a video coming in which I demo how to make dried mango. To get notified when it's live, subscribe to Outdoor Appetite on YouTube.