Pickled mangos are a popular snack in many cultures. Hawaii's version is called Li Hing Pickled Mango. Eaten as a snack or dessert, it's crunchy, tart and tangy. Pickled mangoes are easy to make and very onolicious!
Oh man, there's nothing like diving into a super cold jar of li hing pickled mangoes on a hot afternoon...
What Is Li Hing Pickled Mango?
Li Hing Pickled Mango are made from green (unripe) mangoes. The mangoes are peeled, sliced, and tossed with li hing mui and li hing powder. It's then pickled for 24 hours in a solution of rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar, sugar, and salt.
We eat Li Hing Pickled Mangoes chilled, as a snack or dessert. Crunchy (texture is key!), tart, and sweet...so much to love. These pickled mangoes are iconic for the red color/tint imparted by li hing powder. Pickled mangoes are sold throughout Hawaii. You can find them at local supermarkets, crack seed stores, farmers markets, and even at street stands on country roads (so tasty after a long drive) It's an excellent treat that makes great use of our local Hawaii mangoes.
Mangoes In Hawaii
We have lots and lots of mangoes in Hawaii. Lucky locals have a mango tree (or two!) in their backyard. If you don't have a mango tree at home, you're bound to know a generous friend/cousin/neighbor with an abundance of mangoes.
Growing up in Hawaii, I took the abundance of mangoes for granted. It wasn't until I moved to NYC for college that I realized that mangoes on the mainland were both expensive and not nearly as delicious. Make sure you eat as many mangoes as possible when in Hawaii! My sister ate so many mangoes as a kid that my grandma nicknamed her "big mango."
Pickled Mangoes In Hawaii
Pickled mangoes are popular in Hawaii for two main reasons:
So Many Mangoes!
When mangoes are in season, they come fast and in huge volumes. Sometimes (if you can believe it), there are too many mangoes to eat! So we do things like make mango smoothies, we make mango bread with the overripe mangoes (like banana bread but 100x better), and we pickled the green (unripe) mangoes.
Hot Island, Cold Desserts
Hawaii is warm (sometimes too warm ^_^), and sunny. Because of this, we really embrace cold dishes and dessert. We love cold somen salad. We love shave ice. And we love li hing pickled mangoes. Li hing pickled mangoes are best devoured cold, cold, cold. You want them straight from the fridge. Or if you're going to the beach, take a cooler and fill it up with ice packs. Sitting under the sun, eating ice cold li hing pickled mangoes...no wonder they call Hawaii paradise.
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In Hawaii we don't just make pickled mangoes, we make Li Hing Pickled Mangoes. Li hing mui is a key ingredient in this recipe.
What is li hing mui? It is a salty dried plum! Each li hing mui piece is about the size of a marble. It is both salty and sweet, with a touch of sour.
Li hing mui is a popular shave ice syrup flavor. We use li hing to make all sorts of drinks like li hing Icee and li hing sugarcane juice. We toss li hing powder with gummy bears (SO GOOD)...the things that can be "li hing'd" are endless.
There are two main forms of li hing (this recipe uses both):
- Li Hing Mui - the whole salty dried plum (with the seed inside).
- Li Hing Powder - the plum ground to a very fine powder (like the texture of powdered sugar).
In Hawaii, we can get both li hing mui and li hing powder from any supermarket, drug store like Longs, and even 7-11 Hawaii. On the mainland, you'll likely be able to find li hing mui at a Chinese market. I haven't seen li hing powder for sale on the mainland.
Using li hing powder is key - this is what gives "Hawaiian Pickled Mango" their signature taste and color.
Li Hing Pickled Mango Method
Ready to start pickling mangoes? Ok ^_^
First get all your mangoes together. Make sure to use green (unripe) mangoes for this recipe. (If your mangoes are ripe, devour them as is, or let ripen a bit more and make mango bread.)
Peel the mango skin. Cut in half, remove the seed, and then cut the mango into 1/2-inch slices. Put all the mangoes into a big bowl and then toss it with the li hing mui and the li hing powder. Toss until all the pieces are lightly dusted with li hing...li hing stains everything a pretty red.
Now we make the pickling solution! The pickling solution ingredients are:
Boil the above ingredients in a saucepan until the salt and sugar is dissolved. Take it off the stove and let cool for a few minutes.
Then you pour it over the bowl of mango slices! Let sit until it's completely cool. Then transfer the mangoes and liquid to glass containers. You can use mason jars or big glass containers...any container you have on hand.
Store it in the fridge for 24-hours, and then you can eat! So easy, so ono ^_^
- Use only green (unripe) mangoes. Ripe mangoes cannot be pickled.
- Store the pickled mangoes in a glass jar. Don't store in a plastic jar (vinegar is acidic and it will eat away the container over time).
- Li Hing Pickled Mangoes must be eaten cold. In some cultures, pickled mangoes accompany a meal. In Hawaii, pickled mangoes are always standalone snack/dessert.
Yes! The recipe calls for half rice vinegar and half apple cider vinegar. We've tried this recipe many different vinegars, and this is our favorite combination. It makes for a smooth and elegant (almost fancy tasting!) pickled mango. But if you don't have either vinegar, don't fret! You can still make pickled mangoes. Substitute white vinegar for either (or both) rice and apple cider vinegar. It'll make for a sharper, but still delicious, pickled mango. You can also use all rice vinegar or all apple cider vinegar.
The recipe calls for both li hing mui and li hing mui powder. I think it's key to have both forms of li hing...the whole plum and powder contribute li hing flavors in different ways. If you only want to use one (or don't want to buy both), li hing mui powder is the more "important" ingredient in this recipe.
Yes! Sliced ginger and whole peppercorns are popular additions.
P.S. Once you get a hang of the formula, it’s fun to try different types of vinegars and ratios of li hing mui and powder.
Li Hing Pickled Mango Recipe
See below for the recipe ^_^ Please read through the Method, Tips, and Substitutions sections to get the best result.
Make sure to eat Li Hing Pickled Mangoes super cold from the fridge!
- Put all the mango slices in a mixing bowl. Add the li hing mui and li hing mui powder. Toss so that everything is evenly coated.
- In a saucepan, combine the rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar, sugar, sea salt. Bring it all to a boil, stirring until the sugar and salt is dissolved. Remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes.
- Pour the liquid over the bowl of mangoes. Let cool. Transfer to jars and store in the refrigerator for 24 hours before eating. Enjoy!