Mangoes are delicious tropical fruits loved by many. Picking a ripe mango is essential to fully enjoy its sweet and juicy flavor. Let’s explore different types of mangoes, where to buy them, what to look for, and how to ripen a mango if it isn’t ready to eat.
Understanding Different Types of Mangoes
Mangoes come in various varieties, each with its own unique characteristics. Some of the most common types include
- Tommy Atkins
- Kent, Ataulfo
Each type has a distinct flavor profile, texture, and appearance, so exploring different varieties can add excitement to your mango experience.
Qualities of a Fresh Mango
Fresh mangoes possess several qualities that indicate their freshness and overall quality. Here are the key qualities to look for in a fresh mango:
- Firmness: A fresh mango should have a firm texture when gently squeezed. It should not feel overly soft or mushy, as this can be a sign of overripeness or decay.
- Aroma: A ripe mango emits a sweet and fruity aroma from the stem end of the fruit. Sniff near the stem and make sure it has a pleasant scent. Avoid mangoes with off or unpleasant odors.
- Color: The color of a fresh mango depends on its variety. However, in general, a fresh mango will have a vibrant, consistent color. It may range from green to yellow, orange, or even red, depending on the variety. The key is that the color should be uniform and without any unusual discoloration or dark spots.
- Skin Texture: The outer skin of a fresh mango should be smooth and free from blemishes, cuts, or bruises. Avoid mangoes with wrinkled or shriveled skin, as they may indicate dehydration or spoilage.
- Weight: A fresh mango should feel heavy for its size. This indicates that it is juicy and filled with flavorful flesh.
By considering these qualities, you can ensure that the mango you choose is fresh, ripe, and ready to be enjoyed.
When Are Mangoes in Season?
In the United States, expect to find mangos May through September. Imported mangos may be available other times of year.
The mango flesh is soft, juicy, and succulent, with a luscious texture that melts in your mouth. It is known for its vibrant golden to orange-yellow color, which can vary slightly depending on the mango variety. The flesh is fibrous, but the fibers are generally smooth and tender, making it easy to eat.
When ripe, the mango flesh is sweet with a tropical, fruity flavor. It has a perfect balance of sweetness and acidity, creating a delightful taste sensation. The flavor profile can also have subtle variations depending on the specific mango variety, with some mangoes having hints of citrus or floral notes.
The flesh near the skin is typically slightly firmer and less sweet, while the flesh closer to the pit is softer and sweeter. It is common to find a large, flat pit or seed in the center of the mango, which should be carefully removed when enjoying the fruit.
Mango flesh is not only delicious but also packed with nutrients. It is a rich source of vitamins, especially vitamin C, and provides dietary fiber and various beneficial plant compounds.
Whether eaten on its own, used in salads or salsas, blended into smoothies, or incorporated into desserts, the mango flesh adds a burst of tropical flavor and a touch of sunshine to any dish.
What Does An Unripe Mango Look Like?
An unripe mango typically has the following characteristics:
- Color: Unripe mangoes are predominantly green in color, regardless of the variety. Some varieties may have a hint of yellow or a slight blush, but the overall color will be mostly green.
- Firmness: Unripe mangoes are firm to the touch and do not yield much when gently squeezed. They will feel solid and have a more rigid texture compared to a ripe mango.
- Size and Shape: Unripe mangoes tend to be smaller in size compared to fully ripe ones. They may also have a slightly more angular or less rounded shape.
- Skin Texture: The outer skin of an unripe mango is smooth and without any wrinkles or soft spots. It may have a glossy appearance, and the surface will feel taut.
- Lack of Aroma: Unripe mangoes have little to no aroma. They won’t emit the sweet, fruity scent that is characteristic of a ripe mango.
Overall, an unripe mango will have a firm texture, green color, and lack the sweet aroma associated with a ripe fruit. If you come across an unripe mango, you can use the ripening methods mentioned earlier to bring it to its optimal ripeness.
Where to Buy Mangoes
You can find mangoes at local grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and specialty stores during mango season, which varies depending on your location. Additionally, if you live in a region where mango trees thrive, you may even have the opportunity to pick them directly from the trees. Seek out reputable sources to ensure you’re getting fresh and high-quality mangoes.
What to Look for in a Ripe Mango
To identify a ripe mango, pay attention to the following indicators:
- Color: The skin of a ripe mango can vary depending on the variety. However, a ripe mango will generally exhibit a vibrant hue, with a yellow or orange undertone. Some mangoes may also have a slight blush or pink spots.
- Firmness: Gently squeeze the mango to check for firmness. A ripe mango will yield slightly to gentle pressure, but it should not be overly soft.
- Aroma: A ripe mango will emit a sweet, fruity aroma from the stem end of the fruit. Sniff near the stem and make sure it has a pleasant scent.
What Color is a Ripe Mango?
The color of a ripe mango can vary depending on the variety. For example, Tommy Atkins mangoes turn deep red or purple when ripe, while Kent mangoes develop a golden color with a slight blush. Alphonso mangoes are known for their bright yellow-orange hue. Familiarize yourself with the specific variety you’re purchasing to determine its ideal color at peak ripeness.
How to Ripen an Unripe Mango
If you find yourself with an underripe mango, you can use these simple steps to ripen it at home:
a. Place the mango in a brown paper bag: Put the unripe mango in a brown paper bag along with a ripe banana or apple. These fruits release ethylene gas, which speeds up the ripening process.
b. Wait a couple of days: Close the bag and leave it at room temperature for a couple of days. The mango will absorb the ethylene gas and ripen gradually.
c. Check for ripeness: After a few days, give the mango a gentle squeeze. If it yields slightly and has a sweet aroma, it is ready to be enjoyed.
Quick Tips for Handling Mangoes
When handling mangoes, keep these tips in mind:
- Use a sharp knife and a cutting board to cut the mango. Be careful while cutting around the mango seed.
- If you prefer not to cut the mango, you can scoop out the flesh using a large spoon or use a grid pattern and push the fruit upward to create mango pieces.
- To store cut mangoes, place them in an airtight container or wrap them in plastic wrap to maintain freshness.
Picking a ripe mango is a skill that comes with experience. By paying careful attention to color, firmness, and aroma, you can ensure you choose the perfect mango for your enjoyment. If you happen to come across an underripe mango, follow the easy ripening method using a brown paper bag and a ripe banana or apple. This process will help you achieve a perfectly ripe mango in just a couple of days.
Remember, mangoes are a versatile fruit that can be enjoyed in various ways, from eating them fresh on their own to incorporating them into dishes like mango salsa. With their delectable taste and numerous health benefits, including high levels of vitamin C and other nutrients, mangoes are truly the king of fruits.
So, next time you’re at the grocery store or a farmers’ market during mango season, use these guidelines to select the best mangoes for your enjoyment. With a little practice and attention, you’ll be able to pick a ripe mango that delights your taste buds and adds a burst of tropical flavor to your dishes.
For more information about Mangos be sure to go to the National Mango Board.
All photos © 2017-2021 National Mango Board and used by permission of the National Mango Board. All rights reserved.
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