The mango color is often an indication of ripe mangoes. Choosing to judge the quality of mango by color is a good measure of standards. However, this is only accurate if you know which mango color is associated with ripe, sweet mangoes.
Nothing beats the frustration of bringing mangoes home from the market, then bite into one and find it still unripe and bitter. You immediately begin cursing all the minutes you spent trying to pick the right one. And you still ended up with an unripe mango.
The criteria you employed when buying the tropical fruit were based on mango color. But you got it wrong (tough luck). It seems there’s much more to judging ripeness than just looking at color.
This article will look at some amazing facts about mangoes and how to use mango color (and other properties) to determine ripeness.
General Characteristics of Mango
These tropical fruits are known worldwide for their flashy orange-yellow mango color and sweet aromatic scent. They are believed to have originated from India, spreading to Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and America.
There are hundreds of varieties of mango in the world. They each have a unique color, size, shape, and flavor. A mango is made up of a large seed situated in the middle of the fruit. It is encased in a shell that’s surrounded by a fibrous outer section. An edible skin holds all these in place. Mangoes are generally sweet-tasting with a dash of tartness (the ripe kind).
When cutting a mango, you will want to avoid passing the blade through the seed located in the center of the fruit. Doing so makes your knives blunt. And if you have sensitive skin, it may be helpful if you steer clear of the plant’s sap.
Mango colors differ. There are yellow ones, orange varieties, red species, and green mangoes. You may even spot a few shades of purple. Although the color of the outer skin differs, the mango color of the fleshy part is usually a perfect combination of yellow and orange.
Can You Tell if a Mango is Ripe from the Color?
My mom is some kind of guru when it comes to selecting mangoes. She seems to have some hidden power that enables her to identify which mangoes make the best fruit salad and which ones are used for chutneys. When I asked if her choices were solely influenced by mango color, she bluntly said it doesn’t. It does help, but it shouldn’t be used in isolation.
To pick correctly, use mango color as a backup because they differ. Some types have a red hue on top of the mango color orange.
It would be best if you knew how various varieties change color as they ripen. For instance, a ripe Alphonse mango color ranges from purple to yellow, while a Keitt mango remains green throughout.
How to Tell When a Mango is Ripe
Ripe mangoes are associated with a sickly sweet smell. If you smell the stem area (the smell is more concentrated here) where the fruit was attached to the tree, you will get a whiff of a fruity aroma if it is ripened.
The smell should arouse nostalgic thoughts about the taste of mango. In short, it smells how you would expect it to taste.
If you happen to catch a whiff of an alcoholic odor, it could indicate an overripe mango. Due to the high sugar content, when mangoes become overripe, they begin to ferment. Thus, the alcoholic or sour scent. And you can expect it to taste the same way it smells.
Shape and Size
Again, different varieties have varying shapes and sizes. The Francis mango is oblong and is mid-sized when ripe, indicated by an S-shape. While the Ataulfo doesn’t grow too big and has an oval, flat appearance.
Therefore, familiarize yourself with the fundamentals of the variety in hand to determine whether it is ripe based on its shape and size.
As mentioned earlier, mango color isn’t the best method to use when shopping for these fruits. Experts at the National Mango Board (NMB) advise us to research color changes in various varieties to distinguish when they are ripe.
Depending on the type, some mangoes develop brown or yellow speckles indicating ripening. For instance, a ripe Kent mango will have yellow spots. But do not rely solely on these imperfections on mango color. Research the specific type of mango before you make any judgment based solely on speckles.
I think this is the most utilized technique when it comes to ascertaining ripeness (or rather a combination of both sight and touch).
Be your own judge: Take a walk through the grocery section in the market, and focus specifically on the fruit display. You’ll notice a lot of people picking up and gently feeling a mango before placing it in their basket. If dissatisfied, you will observe people returning it to the lot and picking another one, and repeating the process.
So what is it exactly that one is feeling for? There is a virtual scale you can use to determine the level of ripeness. Your sense of touch guides your decision. You get to squeeze the sides of the mango to get either of these results:
- Unripe – The mango remains firm after you apply light pressure. It may feel hard as a rock.
- Overripe – The mango gives way easily with a little squeeze. It feels squishy.
- Ripe – When you exert a bit of pressure, the mango’s flesh gives in leaving a small depression. It feels soft.
You have to be extra careful not to bruise the mango as you check. An excellent way to ensure this doesn’t happen is by using your palm rather than your fingers.
Texture of Skin
Sometimes, a ripe mango will have wrinkles on the skin. Not to say that a mango without wrinkles is always unripe. I would say it largely depends on the variety. Some types do not display visible wrinkles.
The Ataulfo mango is the best type to judge ripeness using the texture of the skin. On the other hand, too many wrinkles on the skin may signify an over-ripened mango.
A ripe mango is a bit heavy compared to an unripe mango of the same size. This is how I chose the mangoes I bought (the ones that turned out to be sour). The method of determining ripeness based on heft is best left to the pros. Unless you’re able to judge the weight of a likely ripe mango, stick to the other methods.
Can You Ripen an Unripe Mango?
Yes, you can! Typically, the commercial harvestin
g of mangoes is done before they are fully ripe. This increases their chances of surviving shipping and delivery to the market from the farm.
Step 1: Put the unripe mango in a plastic or brown paper bag.
Step 2: Place the bag in a cool dry place. Preferably at room temperature.
Step 3: Check for signs of ripening every 2 – 3 days.
How to Eat Mango
Mangoes have an amazing flavor. They are consumed in numerous ways around the globe. To incorporate this fruit into your diet, try:
- Eating it as it is. Just chop it up and enjoy the tasty flesh.
- Dice it and incorporate other fruits for a healthy salad.
- Mango chutney.
- Add to a smoothie.
- Make mango sorbet.
- Desiccate it to create a tasty snack.
- Grill it alongside meats like beef and veal.
- Refrigerating to create icy treats
- Make ice mango cubes for your cocktails
Is Mango a Superfood?
Experts say that mangoes hold an impressive nutritional profile. From its low-fat properties to its high fiber content, it is one of the most nutrient-dense fruits. But is mango a superfood?
The fruit has more than 20 nutrients, which offer a plethora of health benefits. Thus, its classification is a modern-day superfood.
Here is a simple table highlighting the nutritional value of mango weighing 165 grams (about a cup of sliced mango).
Other than the mentioned nutrients, mangoes also contain trace amounts of other compounds: Iron, calcium, folate, potassium, pantothenic acid, copper, niacin, manganese, riboflavin, thiamine, phosphorous, selenium, and vitamins (B6, B5, E A, K).
Health Benefits of Mango
According to Dr. Dan Brennan MD of John Hopkins Medicine, mangoes provide numerous health benefits. Some of them are pretty obvious, others are covert. Here are some common health benefits of mango to your overall health and wellness.
Mangos can help improve your digestive system’s tip-top shape. They have dietary fiber and amylase chemicals that prevent constipation. Amylase molecules help in the digestion of other foods by disintegrating tough carbohydrates. On the other hand, mango fiber is better than other fiber supplements in easing constipation.
Enhances Heart Health
Mango is high in nutrients that promote heart health. It contains magnesium and potassium, which aid in the maintenance of a healthy pulse and the relaxation of blood vessels, resulting in lower blood pressure.
Moreover, mango contains a special antioxidant known as mangiferin. Mangiferin has been shown in animal experiments to protect cardiac cells from inflammation, oxidative stress, and apoptosis (controlled cell death).
Lowers Risk of Cancer
One of the many antioxidants contained in mangos is beta-carotene, a pigment that gives the fruit its yellow-orange signature color. Mangos include antioxidants that have been demonstrated to fight free radicals, which can harm cells and contribute to cancer.
Minimize Macular Degeneration
Zeaxanthin is an antioxidant found in mangoes. According to a 2019 study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), zeaxanthin may play a preventive role in eye health and may help avoid age-related macular degeneration damage. This is a progressive eye disease that worsens with age. The anti-inflammatory effects of zeaxanthin are mentioned in the review explaining this protective mechanism.
Mangoes are high in important vitamins that help to promote immunity. Vitamin C is present in the fruit. This vitamin has antioxidant qualities that could help your immune system. Another significant ingredient in mangoes that promotes immunity is vitamin A. This vitamin may aid in the prevention of infectious illnesses. Mangoes are high in beta-carotene, a pigment that aids in immune system enhancement.
5 Most Popular Varieties of Mango Found in the U.S.
In the U.S., mango is available all year round. Most varieties are imported from South American countries like Mexico. However, there are a couple of mango varieties commonly available in the United States. The top 5 most popular varieties of mango in the U.S:
- Ataulfo Mango
- Kent Mango
- Francis Mango
- Keitt Mango
- Haden Mango
Even though we have only mentioned five varieties, there are many other types found in the U.S. You can find Tommy Atkins, Palmer, Manila, Kesar, Edward, and Alphonse.
Fun Facts about Mangoes
- It is a common belief that mangoes existed more than 4000 years ago.
- There are more than 400 varieties of mangoes in the world.
- In India, mango trees symbolize happiness and love. Mangoes themselves are venerated as the ‘Food of God’ and are often given as an outward sign of friendship.
- The shape of the mango inspired the paisley pattern.
- If left undisturbed, mango trees can still bear fruit even after 300 years.
- A mango has less than 1% fat content.
- The heaviest mango to date weighed 7.57 lb (about 3.5 kg). It was presented in the Philippines by Sergio and Maria Socorro during a festival.
- The most expensive mango was actually sold as a pair in Japan. They were priced at $2600 (300K yen) by Taiyo no Tamago (translates to Egg of the Sun).
- Someone with an allergy to latex may react to mangoes.
The Bottom Line
Now that we know the basics of determining the ripeness of mangoes, we can conclude that mango color is not related to internal ripeness.
Therefore, before you pick a mango because it has a golden yellow color, remember to apply the other techniques to increase the chances of picking a ripe mango.