It’s time of mangoes. We love our bright yellow mangoes so much calling it the “king” of fruits. But how much do we actually know about it ?
In in cities, given the exorbitant price we pay for our mangoes, it’s time we learnt a little more about how mangoes ripen naturally and a few tips for identifying artificially ripened mangoes so as avoid them completely!
What is Natural Ripening?
The fruit, while still on the tree develops to mature/unripe state commonly referred to as “mature green”. “Green” in this instance refers to the ripeness stage, and has little to do with skin colour. Mangoes are harvested when they are “Mature Green”, to ensure that they ripen naturally by the time they reach you.
Natural ripening produce ethylene, a naturally occurring ripening hormone. The mature piece of fruit will respond to it, and will ripen normally on its own. At the mature/unripe stage at harvest, mangos are high in starches and acids, and low in soluble sugars and soluble solids. During ripening, mango firmness decreases, acidity and starch concentrations decrease, while fruit sugars increase. Also flesh colour transforms from pale to deep golden yellow.
External skin colour changes do take place in some varieties. For example, the skin of the “Alphonso” variety will progress from green to a deep, golden yellow at the ready to eat stage whereas “Langda” variety will remain dark green. The process takes time but the rich flavour is well worth the wait.
Identify artificially ripened mangoes?
Being in a hurry, some suppliers use calcium carbide which not only ripen them quickly but also give them a rich golden appearance. Unfortunately the chemicals contain harmful chemicals like arsenic & phosphorus. Further, artificially ripened mangoes do eventually become softer, however they lack in flavour. No amount artificial post-harvest treatment that can fully return the mango to its natural sweetness.
Listed below are a few markers for identifying artificially ripened mangoes:
- Colour: There is a chance that there are will be patches of green distinguishable from the yellow ones.
- Taste: They may cause a feeling of slight burning in the mouth. Some may even experience stomach ache, diarrhoea etc.
- Juice: Artificially ripened mangoes when cut may release little or no juice.
Ripen Mangoes @Home:
It is best to purchase mature green mangoes from the market and have it naturally ripen at home. The way to identify the mature green mangoes is by looking at stem attached to the fruit, which would have reddish or yellowish hue.
Only if the mangoes have just been plucked (dark green & very hard), then they are to be kept in a box of hay. This is how they are shipped to ensure that they ripen along the way. If they are quite unripe, keep them in the warmest place of the home.
Thereafter, if they are slightly coloured and relatively softer, the following steps need to be adopted:
- Place them on a cotton cloth laid on a wooden tray or wooden table and cover with another cotton cloth (napkin or towel). Thickness of cloth depends on how quickly one wants them to ripen. Or they can be wrapped individually in newspaper/brown paper and left for a couple of days.
- Thereafter, keep them lightly covered in an open space, ensuring that they are spread out and not on top of each. Otherwise they may blacken or rot due the excess heat generated due to proximity.
As mangoes start ripening, they are best consumed at room temperature. They last longer in the open and refrigeration beyond a point spoils the taste & nutrients.
This summer, go on and enjoy the divine taste of the “king of fruits”, relishing the sweetness that patience of natural ripening.