How to tell when a mango is ripe?
Mangoes, avocadoes, pawpaw, bananas, and other fruits are mostly harvested when mature but sometimes they may also be harvested in unripe conditions and allowed to ripen further over time. Out of all these tropical fruits, mango is the prettiest, sweetest and preferably the best.
However, when one gets ready to eat a mango, nothing is more upsetting than peeling and slicing a mango and finding out, that it ain’t ripe yet. Luckily, there are appropriate ways to prevent you from getting into this unpleasant situation.
How to check a mango for ripening?
Here are some basic ways to tell whether a mango is ripe or not:
Check a mango by the feel
When it comes to texture, a ripe mango should have a slightly soft feel but never get to the point where it feels mushy. When buying a mango, please choose the one that is heavier for its size and give it a slight and gentle squeeze. It should feel soft, and your finger should leave a small impression on the skin. If the mango feels harder and firmer, it should be left and given more time to ripen.
Check a mango by the smell
A ripe mango smells beautiful and fruity near the stem area. Since mangoes are sweet, they should have a sweet scent. To check if the mango has ripened enough pick up a mango and direct its stem end near your nose and check the smell. If it doesn’t smell, it isn’t ready to eat, but if it has an attractive sweet and fruity scent, wash it, then get a sharp knife and start slicing or munching directly.
Check a mango by the look
Mangos can be green, yellow and a shade of pink depending on the type of the mango. Their colours tell if the mango is ripe or not. Additionally, ripe mango is always plump and rounded like a tennis ball. Always look for mangoes with bright skin colour, whether yellow, green, red or pink, according to the type. Mangoes that have dark spots are overripe or rotten and should be avoided.
How To Ripen Mangoes at Home
Un-ripe mangoes may be left in the grocery bag to ripen overtime. Like other fruits such as bananas, mangoes ripen well at room temperature. Here are some things to do at home to speed up the mango ripening process.
Put the mangoes inside a paper bag
Placing them in a paper bag and tying them properly or wrapping them with pieces of newspaper assists in trapping ethylene gas and facilitating ripening.
Mixing unripe mangoes with other ripe fruits
Ripe fruit releases ethylene gas; storing unripe mangoes with ripe mangoes will speed up the ripening process of un ripe mangoes.
Keep the mangoes at room temperature
In order to ripen, mangoes need to be kept in a cool and dry environment at room temperature.
Put the mangoes in a bowl full of rice or popcorn kernel
Mangoes can be put inside a bag filled with rice so that they ripen faster. Furthermore, popcorn kernels also serve a similar purpose as rice. Their major purpose is to trap the natural ethylene gas surrounding the fruit itself, facilitating the mango ripening process.
Keep the mangoes in a Cotton cloth
When raw mangoes are wrapped in a cotton cloth and kept in the room for two days and above, they ripen quickly.
Keep the mangoes in Hay
Instead of throwing hay into the garden, fill a bag with it, put some mangoes and store it in a cool and dry place. The mangoes will be ready in about one to two days.
Microwave Method for ripening
If you become impatient and need to munch on the mangoes immediately, place them in a microwave. Make 4-5 pokes on the mango with a knife to allow steam to escape as the microwave rotates. Wrap the fruit in a towel and start the microwave to spin for ten seconds. Check whether the fruit is ready. If it ain’t ready, let the microwave run for another ten seconds. Do this till the mangoes reach the desired softness. However, the microwave method is not the best since the mangoes lose sweetness.
How are Mangoes Ripened Commercially
Generally, mangoes ripen slowly and unevenly under natural conditions, leading to high amounts of produce loss and desiccation. For commercial purposes, ripening is done quickly and evenly using artificially produced ethylene gas.
Mango ripening protocol:
The mango fruit pulp temperatures must be kept at 20 to 22°C before beginning the ripening process. Once the fruit pulp temperature stabilizes, 100 ppm ethylene is added for a minimum of 12 to 24 hours. Note that the 100 ppm ethylene is made from dissolving ten (10) ml of ethylene liquid in ten litres of water. This is then sprayed on the mangoes. As soon as there is a slight change in fruit colour, this is an indication that the mangoes are producing their ethylene, and therefore the artificial ethylene application is stopped.
The time for exposing mangoes to ethylene is determined by how mature the fruit is. Notably, mango fruits exposed to 100 ppm ethylene for the appropriate period ripen roughly in 2 days as compared to ten days it takes naturally.
The carbon dioxide also builds up during the ripening process, and if there are no automatic ventilation systems, the room doors are opened for 20mins after every 12 hours of spraying ethylene. The atmospheric level of carbon dioxide should be less than one percent for proper ripening.
After the process of ethylene application, the pulp temperature is kept at 18 to 22°C until the desired level of ripeness is achieved. Then, the ripened mangoes are stored at 10 to 13°C in a humid environment. Humidity is also important and should be kept at 90-95% during this stage.
Applying ethylene ripens mangoes quickly in a matter of 2-3 days when kept in a favourable atmosphere and conditions. This makes them ripe and the process is all natural as ethylene is naturally produced by the mangoes also for ripening. This is in accordance with fit for consumption standards according to FSSA norms. This process ensures that the mangoes are sweet and the nutritional value of mangoes remain intact.
To determine whether a mango is ripe or not simply feel the texture of the mango by gently pressing it, by checking the colour, by placing it close to the nose and smelling it, and enjoying the sweet smell. Most mangoes are harvested when mature but unripe. They can then be placed and wrapped in ripening facilitating substances such as old newspapers, hay etc. at home. For commercial ripening, ethylene is used, making the process quick and efficient.
- Gill PP, Jawandha SK, Kaur N, Singh N. Physico-chemical changes during progressive ripening of mango (Mangifera indica L.) cv. Dashehari under different temperature regimes. Journal of Food Science and Technology. 2017 Jun;54(7):1964-70. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13197-017-2632-6
- Kad VP, Dhemre JK, Doke NL, Kadam DG, Patil RV. Effect of ethylene on physiological changes during ripening of mango (Mangifera indica L.) Cv. Kesar. Indian J Agri Res. 2017 Oct 1;51(5):437-42. doi:10.18805/IJARe.A-4829
- Padda MS, do Amarante CV, Garcia RM, Slaughter DC, Mitcham EJ. Methods to analyze physico-chemical changes during mango ripening: A multivariate approach. Postharvest Biology and Technology. 2011 Dec 1;62(3):267-74. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.postharvbio.2011.06.002
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