How to Tell If a Mango is Ripe
Understanding Mango Varieties and Ripening Stages
Mangoes come in different varieties and can be harvested at different stages of ripeness. Understanding the ripening stages of the mango variety you have is crucial in determining whether it is ripe or not.
Some common mango varieties include Ataulfo, Tommy Atkins, Kent, and Haden. Ataulfo mangoes are smaller, with a bright yellow skin when ripe, while Tommy Atkins mangoes are larger and have a mix of green, red, and yellow skin when ripe. Kent mangoes have a reddish-green skin when ripe, while Haden mangoes have a red and green skin with yellow undertones when ripe.
Mangoes go through three stages of ripening, which are unripe, ripe, and overripe. Unripe mangoes are hard, green, and sour, while ripe mangoes are softer, juicier, and sweeter. Overripe mangoes are usually mushy, discolored, and overly sweet.
By knowing the variety of your mango and the ripening stage it is in, you can tell if it is ripe and ready to eat or needs more time to ripen.
Checking for Physical Signs of Ripeness
One way to tell if a mango is ripe is by examining its physical appearance. Here are some signs to look out for:
Color: The color of a ripe mango varies depending on the variety, but in general, a ripe mango will have a yellow, orange, or red skin with some green undertones. Avoid mangoes that have a lot of green, as they are likely not ripe yet.
Texture: A ripe mango will be slightly soft to the touch, but not mushy. If the mango feels rock hard, it is not yet ripe. On the other hand, if it feels too soft, it is likely overripe.
Shape: A ripe mango should have a plump, round shape. Avoid mangoes that are shriveled or have any visible dents or bruises.
By checking for these physical signs of ripeness, you can determine if a mango is ready to eat or needs more time to ripen.
Smelling and Squeezing the Mango
In addition to checking the physical appearance of a mango, you can also use your sense of smell and touch to determine if it is ripe.
Smell: A ripe mango will have a sweet, fruity aroma. If the mango has no smell or smells sour, it is not yet ripe.
Squeeze: Gently squeeze the mango with your fingertips. A ripe mango should give slightly and have a little bit of give, but not be too soft or mushy. If the mango feels rock hard, it is not yet ripe.
Keep in mind that if you are in a grocery store or market, it may not be appropriate to squeeze the mango. In that case, rely on the physical appearance and smell of the mango to determine if it is ripe.
Tips for Ripening Mangoes at Home
If you’ve purchased a mango that is not yet ripe, you can ripen it at home using the following tips:
Store at room temperature: Mangoes will ripen faster when stored at room temperature, ideally between 70-85°F.
Place in a paper bag: To speed up the ripening process, place the mango in a paper bag and fold the top closed. This traps the ethylene gas produced by the mango, which will help it ripen faster.
Add an apple or banana: Apples and bananas also produce ethylene gas, which can help ripen mangoes. Place a ripe apple or banana in the paper bag with the mango to speed up the process.
Check daily: Check the mango daily for ripeness by using the physical signs and sense of smell mentioned earlier.
Be patient, as it can take anywhere from a few days to a week for a mango to ripen. Once it is ripe, store it in the refrigerator to slow down the ripening process and enjoy within a few days.
How to Store and Use Ripe Mangoes
Once a mango is ripe, it should be stored in the refrigerator to slow down the ripening process and extend its shelf life. Here are some tips for storing and using ripe mangoes:
Store in the refrigerator: Place the ripe mango in a plastic bag and store it in the refrigerator for up to five days.
Cut and freeze: If you won’t be able to use the ripe mango within a few days, you can cut it into cubes and freeze it for later use in smoothies or desserts.
Peel and slice: To eat a ripe mango, cut off the stem end and use a knife to peel away the skin. Then, slice the mango flesh away from the large seed in the center.
Use in recipes: Ripe mangoes are delicious in a variety of recipes, including smoothies, salads, salsas, and desserts.
By storing and using ripe mangoes properly, you can enjoy their sweet and juicy flavor in a variety of ways.