Mango is one of the most popular fruits in the world, and for good reason! Its delicious taste, juicy flesh, and unique flavor make it one of the most desired fruits. Mangoes are available around the globe throughout the year, but choosing the right one is essential to get the best of this fruit. The question that arises is, how to tell if a mango is ready?
What are the Different Types of Mangoes?
Mangoes come in different shapes, sizes, and colors, and they are classified based on their origin, seasonality, and flavor. Understanding the different types of mangoes can help you choose the right one. Here are some of the most popular varieties of mangoes that you can find in the market:
- Alphonso – This is the most popular and premium variety of mangoes, often considered the king of mangoes. It has a distinctive sweet flavor, a rich aroma, and a saffron-colored pulp. Alphonso mangoes are primarily from India and available during the summer season.
- Ataulfo – Also known as honey mango, this variety of mangoes has a creamy, less fibrous flesh and a sweet and buttery flavor. They are grown in Mexico and available from March to June.
- Kent – Kent mangoes have a dark green and red skin and a sweet flavor that is less flamboyant than other varieties. They are primarily grown in Florida and are available from June to August.
Why is Choosing the Right Mango Important?
Choosing the right mango is essential to get the best flavor, texture, and nutritional value. A fruit that is not ripe enough may be hard and tart, while an overly ripe mango may be stringy and mushy. Here is why choosing the right mango is crucial:
- A ripe mango tastes better and has a higher nutritional value than an unripe one.
- Choosing a ripe mango can save you money by preventing you from buying an unripe fruit that you may not use.
- Overripe mangoes can ruin dishes like salsas, smoothies, and curries.
The Ultimate Guide to Perfectly Ripe Mangoes
Step 1: Look at the Color
The color of the mango can tell you a lot about how ripe it is. Most mangoes start as green, and as they ripen, they turn yellow, orange, and even red. However, the color of the mango is not enough to determine its ripeness, as some varieties, like the alphonso, remain green even when ripe. Therefore, you should use color in conjunction with other techniques to determine if the mango is ripe or not.
Step 2: Give it a Squeeze Test
Another way to tell if a mango is ripe is by squeezing it gently. Ripe mangoes will give slightly when squeezed, while unripe mangoes will remain firm. However, be cautious not to squeeze too hard, as this may bruise the fruit and affect its flavor and texture.
Step 3: Check the Texture and Smell
The texture and smell of a mango can also provide useful information about its ripeness. A ripe mango should be firm but slightly yielding to the touch. It should also have a fragrant, fruity smell at its stem-end. If the mango smells sour or fermented, or if it has a soft or mushy texture, it is overripe and may be spoilage prone.
Step 4: Use the Time Method
If you cannot determine the ripeness of the mango using any of the above methods, you can use the time method. Check the skin of the mango for wrinkles, a sign that it is ripe, especially near the stem. The time method works well if you have bought unripe mangoes, and you want to know when they will be ready to eat. Generally, mangoes take four to six days to ripen in room temperature, but the duration may vary depending on the variety and the ripening conditions.
Step 5: Cut Open the Mango
If all else fails, you can cut open the mango to determine if it is ripe. A ripe mango should have yellow, juicy flesh that is not too fibrous, and a sweet, fragrant smell. However, remember that cutting open the mango prematurely will affect its shelf life and flavor.
How to Store Mangoes?
You can extend the shelf life of your mangoes by storing them properly. Here is how to store mangoes:
- Unripe mangoes: Keep unripe mangoes at room temperature in a paper bag to speed up their ripening process. Store them away from other fruits, as they release a gas called ethylene, which causes them to ripen quickly. You can also prevent them from bruising by wrapping them in newspaper or tissue paper.
- Ripe mangoes: Store ripe mangoes in the refrigerator in a plastic bag to extend their shelf life. However, be careful not to store them for too long, as they may get freezer burn and lose their flavor and texture.
How to Cut a Mango?
The final step in enjoying your mango is cutting it correctly. Here are the directions on how to cut a mango:
- Hold the mango upright with one hand and use a sharp knife to cut off the two flat sides, avoiding the pit.
- Score the flesh into squares or a criss-cross pattern, without cutting through the skin.
- Push the skin side up, making the squares stand out. Use a spoon to separate the flesh from the skin.
- Repeat on the other side of the mango.
Choosing the right mango is crucial to enjoy its delicious taste and nutritional value. You can determine the ripeness of a mango by considering its color, texture, smell, and time. You can extend the shelf life of mangoes by storing them correctly and cut them following the correct technique.
- Q: Can I eat an unripe mango? A: Yes, you can eat an unripe mango, but it may taste tart and hard. You can also use unripe mangoes to make pickles, chutneys, or add them to salads or smoothies.
- Q: Can I speed up the mango ripening process? A: Yes, you can speed up the mango ripening process by putting them in a paper bag with an apple or a banana. Apples and bananas release ethylene gas, which helps in ripening the mangoes.
- Q: Can I eat the skin of a mango? A: No, you should not eat the skin of a mango. The skin of some mangoes may contain sap that can cause an allergic reaction, and it is also difficult to digest.