Cut carefully to get the most of your mango

  • By Martha Stewart / Martha Stewart Living
  • Wednesday, July 12, 2006 9:00pm
  • Life

My family loves mangoes. How do you prepare one neatly and without sacrificing the juice?

Preparing mangoes can be frustrating – this sweet-and-tart tropical fruit is so luscious, you don’t want to miss a bite. No matter how you prepare a mango, some flesh will invariably cling to the elongated pit.

Here’s how to work around this. When you look at a mango, you’ll see that it’s shaped like a flattened oval, with two soft cheeks on opposite sides. That’s where you’ll find most of the flesh. Stand the mango on a cutting board stem end up, and position your knife at the top, just off center. Slice off one of the rounded cheeks in a clean, single cut, and repeat on the other side.

You may be able to carve off a bit more flesh, but the two halves are the majority of your yield. If you use a sharp knife and make those first two cuts cleanly and smoothly, you shouldn’t lose too much juice, but if there’s a little puddle on the cutting board, use the back of your knife to scrape it into a bowl. Then just add the juice to your dish.

There are a few ways to peel and slice the flesh. Some mangoes can be easily peeled by hand – the skin comes right off. On others, the skin takes the flesh with it. If you can’t peel the fruit by hand, use a paring knife, then slice the mango into strips or chunks. You can also score the inside of each half in a cross-hatch pattern, cutting down to the skin. Push the skin at the center, turning it inside out: cubes of mango will stick up from the skin and can then be easily sliced away.

In stores, you’ll usually find firm, under-ripe mangoes. Just leave them at room temperature, and they’ll ripen nicely in a few days. When ready to be eaten, a mango will be fragrant and give slightly when pressed.

How do you keep bats from nesting in your eaves?

Despite the fright you might feel when bats swoop overhead at dusk, these nocturnal creatures should actually be cherished. They perform a vital function in the environment, consuming thousands of insects that might otherwise damage vegetation and spread illness. Even so, it can definitely be alarming and annoying to have bats roosting in the eaves of your house. They make scratching and squeaking noises, and their droppings smell bad. Bats also can carry rabies.

A C\,-inch space is usually enough room for bats to squeeze through. To keep them out of the house in the first place, block off possible entryways: Cover chimneys and vents with screens, and use caulking or steel wool to fill small gaps in walls and under overhangs.

Skip devices marketed as bat repellents. Experts agree that ultrasonic sound devices and sprays are ineffective and will, if anything, only cause the bats to move to a different part of the house. Poisons should also be avoided, as they can be dangerous for humans and other animals in the area, and dead bats left in the eaves of your house create an even more unpleasant odor problem.

Instead, get rid of roosting bats with a safe exclusion method: First, determine entryways by watching to see where bats emerge at dusk. Once you’ve found the spots, hang a piece of fine-mesh netting or a sheet of heavy, transparent plastic over the opening: it should fall an inch or two in front of the entryway and extend at least two feet below and to each side. This will allow bats to exit, but when they try to find their way back in, they will become disoriented and look elsewhere for a place to roost.

After a few days, when all bats are gone, permanently block the openings with the physical barriers mentioned above. Try to time the exclusion for when there are no babies in the nests – if you prevent parents from getting back to them, the young bats will starve. Flightless young are usually present in June and July, but your local extension service should be able to provide you with specific information for your area.

If a bat enters the living space of your house, just stay calm, open a window and let it find its way out. Bats aren’t aggressive, but a scared bat may bite, so catching them with your hands is not the best idea. If you want to try, wear heavy protective gloves. When the bat lands, you can try to trap it under an overturned bucket, cover the opening and then release it outside.

Questions should be addressed to Ask Martha, care of Letters Department, Martha Stewart Living, 11 W. 42nd St., New York, NY 10036. E-mail to

2006 Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc.

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