In the botanical context, core refers to a structure found in fruit of the pome category, including apples and pears. A core houses the seeds of a fruit, keeping them separate from the fruit's flesh. A mango doesn't have a core, and belongs to a different category than do fruits with cores. A mango is a drupe and has a pit, also called a stone, that houses the seed.
A Tropical Stone Fruit
A drupe is a category of fruit featuring a pit, or a stone, which is why the term stone fruit is also used for the fruits in this group. The pit is very hard, often having a wood-like look to it. The botanical term for this seed covering is the endocarp. The mango is a tropical fruit, but there are drupe fruits all over the world, including peaches and plums. The pits of these fruits are surrounded by flesh that is typically juicy and sweet.
The “Ultimate” Cling Stone Drupe
Described as the “ultimate example” of a cling stone drupe by Mohammad Pessarakli in his “Handbook of Plant and Crop Physiology,” the mango is made up of flesh that clings tightly to the pit. The flesh near the pit is quite fibrous in most varieties. In older mango varieties, the flesh of the fruit has some fiber, though not as much as there is near the pit. Modern commercial mango varieties have been carefully bred to reduce the fiber in the flesh, producing mangoes that are almost fiberless, except for in the area closest to the pit. Low-fiber mango varieties available today include Keitt, Kent and Haden mangoes, according to the National Center for Home Food Preservation.
Beware: Mangoes Have Dangerous Relatives
The mango tree is a member of a plant family that includes several poisonous plants. The Anacardiaceae family, commonly called the sumac family, includes the mango tree, poison sumac and poison oak. People who are highly allergic to poison sumac or poison oak may experience an adverse reaction from handling unripe mangoes, from eating mangoes and even from being around the trees when they are in bloom. Even people who experience just a typical level of skin irritation from poison oak and sumac can blister from touching the mango tree sap, including the sap from the end of the fruit when it is plucked from the tree.
Use Caution When Cutting
A ripe mango is very juicy, making it slippery. The fibrous flesh near the pit makes cutting more difficult. It's very easy for the knife to slip, resulting in a nasty cut. It is safer to use proper equipment – a sharp knife and a cutting board. Never cut a mango in your hand. The pit is in the center and, depending on the variety, is between 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide. Place the mango vertically on the cutting board, resting on the wider end. Slice the fullest part off one side, planning the cut with pit width and location in mind. Place the fruit cut side down on the cutting board and slice off the remaining full part. Carefully trim any usable flesh from the pit. The safest option is to use a specialized tool for mangoes, similar to an apple-corer, eliminating the risk of a cut from a knife slip.
- Palomar College, Wayne's Word, An On-line Textbook of Natural History: Durian, Papaya, Mango, Cashew, Hog Plum, Kaffir Plum and Burdekin Plum
- Plants and Society, Fifth Edition; Estelle Levetin and Karen McMahon
- Handbook of Plant and Crop Physiology; Mohammad Pessarakli
- National Center for Home Food Preservation: The Mango – A Tropical Treat
- Purdue University, Center for New Crops and Plant Products: Mango
- Photo Credit Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images