Why It Works
- Mango pits and peels contain enough water to dissolve up to half their weight in sugar, imparting a strong flavor and vivid color without any added juice, flavoring, or dye.
- A citrus rind helps balance the creamy sweetness of the mango syrup.
- Nonreactive equipment keeps the syrup's flavor clean and fresh.
One of the best things about working for Serious Eats is the chance to chat with other bakers on Twitter; folks who have the time and curiosity to tinker with my recipes and share their results. Sometimes these interactions illustrate the risks of cavalier substitution, but just as often they prove how imaginatively recipes can adapt and grow once they're released into the wild.
Take my fresh lemon syrup, for example. In the original recipe, I use sugar and a little patience to extract residual lemon juice and essential oils from lemon carcasses (the empty husk leftover from juicing a lemon, with or without zest) to make a no-cook syrup without any added water. This keeps the lemon's flavor bright, clean, and concentrated. It works just as well with limes, oranges, and grapefruit, but as one fruit-loving reader pointed out, the same technique can also be applied to mango pits.
It seems obvious in retrospect: mango pits (and peels, for that matter) are a "waste" product loaded with moisture, but I'd never considered handling them the same way as I do citrus fruits. So when mango season rolled around, that idea shot to the top of my to-do list. My first attempt with mango pits was a fantastic proof of concept, producing a syrup so thick and mellow it bordered on creamy. Round two saw it much improved thanks to the inclusion of mango skins and their piney aroma. Subsequent rounds were all about playing with the inclusion of leftover citrus rinds in varying amounts to help cut through the mango's natural sweetness.
Ultimately, I found that for every pound of assorted mango pits and peels, I needed a quartered lemon or lime carcass along with a half-pound of sugar. I like plain white sugar to create a more neutral syrup, but palm sugar would be a natural choice for those inclined to bring some smoky complexity to the mix. With those ingredients all sussed out, the method is simple.
Combine the mango pits, peels, and lemon rind, and toss them with sugar, letting the mixture stand at room temperature until the sugar has completely dissolved. If you bother to toss and stir the mixture from time to time, it can take just four hours; for a more passive extraction (and my preferred method, out of sheer laziness), you can just cover the bowl and leave it out overnight.
When the sugar disappears into a syrupy sauce, transfer the mango- and citrus-waste to a non-reactive sieve and let the syrup drain into a bowl. Press and smash the mixture with a spatula to release any syrup trapped in the peels and rinds. The recipe should yield about a cup of syrup, although the specifics will vary depending on the juiciness of the fruit itself and how thoroughly it's drained in the end.
Due to its lower acidity, this syrup won't keep as long as its lemon-centric counterpart, but in a glass bottle or jar, it'll still hold up nicely for a week or two in the fridge (avoid plastic containers, which may harbor funky odors the syrup can draw out over time). If you need it to last a little longer, just pop it in a freezer-safe container and freeze it instead.
Mango syrup can be used in all the same recipes on Serious Eats that call for my lemon or lime syrup—as a sweetener for chantilly and candied pistachios, or as a tropical twist on my lemon poppyseed dressing. It's also a breath of fresh air poured over waffles and French toast.
Truth be told, I love it best as a simple soda. Just pour an ounce of the mango syrup into a tall glass of ice, then top it off with club soda to taste.
What starts out as a beautifully layered drink will turn into an opaque mango soda by the time you stir in a shot of gin.
As with my lemon syrup, the "recipe" serves mostly as a guideline and can be easily scaled up or down according to how many mango scraps you have on hand. Or, if you're the sort of person who only snacks on a mango from time to time, stash the pit and peel in the freezer until you build up a large enough stockpile to justify a batch of syrup.
It's a fun and thrifty way to get the most out of mangoes while they're in season, and a great change of pace from traditional simple syrup in cocktails and iced tea. If you're inclined to spice things up, toss in a handful of cilantro or some pieces of sliced ginger to add yet another layer of flavor—and please, if you happen upon a great new combination, please share with the class.
How to Cut a Mango
16 ounces (453g) mango pits and peels, from 4 to 8 mangos depending on type and size
1 lemon rind, juice and zest reserved for another project (about 2 ounces; 55g)
8 ounces plain white sugar, or a raw to semi-refined sugar such as jaggery, turbinado, or palm (about 1 heaping cup; 225g)
Combine mango pits and peels with the lemon rind and sugar in a large glass, ceramic, or stainless steel mixing bowl. Toss to combine, then cover tightly and let stand at room temperature, stirring once every 45 minutes or so, until sugar has completely dissolved, about 4 hours. Alternatively, cover bowl and set out overnight (between 8 and 12 hours) for same result.
Transfer to a stainless steel strainer set over a nonreactive bowl, pressing gently on the peels and pits with a flexible spatula in order to extract as much syrup as possible. Refrigerate syrup for up to 2 weeks in a glass bottle or half-pint jar. Serve over ice with club soda as a sparkling beverage, or use in place of lemon syrup in recipes such as lemon chantilly, candied pistachios, and lemon poppyseed dressing.
- Flexible spatula, non-reactive sieve
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 0g||0%|
|Saturated Fat 0g||0%|
|Total Carbohydrate 30g||11%|
|Dietary Fiber 0g||1%|
|Total Sugars 30g|
|Vitamin C 6mg||30%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|