What should I look for when buying a mango?

When selecting mangoes, there are a few key things to look for to ensure you get the best quality fruit. Mangoes come in different shapes, sizes and colors, but no matter the variety, you’ll want to examine the mango for ripeness, check for blemishes, feel for softness, and smell for freshness.

How to tell when a mango is ripe

Ripeness is one of the most important factors in choosing a delicious mango. Here are some signs that a mango is ripe and ready to eat:

  • Color – The skin will be mostly yellow/orange or yellow with red blush depending on variety. Green usually indicates under ripeness.
  • Touch – There should be slight softness when gently pressed, similar to an avocado. Too firm means it’s not ripe yet.
  • Aroma – A ripe, fresh mango will have a lovely fragrance. Bring it close to your nose and smell for fruity sweetness.
  • Stem – The stem end of the mango should give slightly when pressed. If it’s very stiff, the mango is underripe.
  • Weight – A ripe mango will feel slightly heavy for its size. Lightness can mean overripeness.

Mangoes generally don’t continue to ripen once picked from the tree. So choose fruit that meets as many of these ripeness criteria as possible when purchasing.

Checking for blemishes and bruises

Inspect all sides of the mango for any blemishes, bruises, spots or damage. Slight surface blemishes are harmless, but deep bruises or rot indicate the interior flesh may be damaged. Avoid mangoes with:

  • Cuts, holes or cracks in the skin that go deep into the fruit
  • Spongy or mushy spots
  • Shriveled or wrinkled skin
  • Dark spots/discoloration from bruising
  • Scarring or damage at the stem

Minor skin imperfections like small dots or speckles are okay. Just avoid any mangoes where the bruising has penetrated deeply.

Squeezing for softness

A ripe mango will yield slightly when squeezed gently. The flesh should not be rock hard or mushy. Apply light pressure with your fingers around the widest part of the mango, avoiding the stem end. It should dent slightly without any juice or indentation remaining on the skin when released.

Sniffing for fresh, fruity aroma

Bring the mango up to your nose and sniff it. A properly ripe mango will smell sweet and fragrant – never sour, fermented or rotten. You should notice fruity, floral notes that make your mouth water. Mangoes are incredibly aromatic so don’t be shy about taking a good whiff!

Considering size and shape

Mangoes come in different shapes from round, oval and kidney-shaped to long and slender. They also vary greatly in size from just a few ounces to over two pounds. While this doesn’t affect edibility, it’s useful to pick mangoes based on your intended use. Bigger mangoes work well for slicing and eating raw. Smaller ones are perfect for juicing, smoothies or using in recipes.

Choosing sustainable mangoes

If buying imported mangoes, check the country of origin label and choose mangoes grown in sustainable and ethical ways. Mangoes labeled organic, Fair Trade Certified, or Rainforest Alliance Certified promote responsible growing practices that minimize environmental impacts.

Selecting mangoes seasonally and locally

Mangoes grow in tropical and subtropical climates and the peak season varies by location. When you buy mangoes grown locally in season, they don’t require long distance shipping. This makes local mangoes better for the environment and they may be more reasonably priced due to better availability.

Understanding common mango varieties

Some of the most common types of mangoes include:

  • Tommy Atkins – Sweet, firm flesh with yellow skin and red blush. Available March-July.
  • Ataulfo – Small, creamy, tender flesh. Yellow skin that sometimes remains green at the stem. Available March-July.
  • Keitt – Large oval fruit with yellow-green skin and buttery flesh. Low fiber. Available July-October.
  • Kent – Sweet, juicy and aromatic. Greenish-yellow skin with a red blush. Available late spring through summer.
  • Haden – Medium-large fruit with smooth, deep yellow skin. Velvety flesh and a small seed. Available April-July.
  • Francis – Rich, sweet flavor. Oblong shape with yellow skin and a hint of red. Available June-July.

There are over 500 varieties of mangoes grown worldwide! Try different types and see which you like best based on flavor, texture, size, and available season in your area.

When to avoid purchasing mangoes

You’ll want to avoid buying mangoes that are:

  • Hard as a rock – This means they are underripe and won’t ripen further off the tree.
  • Shriveled or wrinkled – A sign of old age and decline beyond the point of ripeness.
  • Lightweight for their size – Indicates dried out, dehydrated fruit flesh.
  • Heavily bruised – Deep bruises or cuts allow decay to spread inside the mango.
  • Exuding stickiness or sap – Mangoes shouldn’t be weeping fluid, which signals fermentation and spoilage.
  • Damaged at the stem – The stem end needs to remain intact for the mango to continue ripening.

Trust your senses. If a mango smells fermented instead of sweet, tastes odd or just seems ‘off’, it’s safest not to eat it.

Storing and ripening mangoes at home

Once you get your mangoes home:

  • Let underripe mangoes ripen at room temperature – Keep them out on the counter to allow ripening. Depending on firmness, this may take 1-3 days.
  • Speed up the ripening process – Place mangoes in a paper bag or fruit ripening bag, and store at room temperature. The trapped ethylene gas will accelerate ripening.
  • Tell if a mango is overripe – If very soft with sweet, fruity juice oozing out, it is past prime ripeness and best for immediate use.
  • Refrigerate ripe mangoes – Once ripe, store mangoes in the fridge to slow further ripening and extend shelf life. Let chilled fruit come back to room temp before eating.

With careful selection, proper storage and watching for signs of ripeness, you can enjoy fresh, delicious mangoes at their prime!

Nutrition facts and health benefits

Mangoes are highly nutritious tropical fruits rich in vitamins, minerals and beneficial plant compounds. Here is the nutrition breakdown for a whole mango (about 201g):

Nutrient Amount % Daily Value
Calories 135 7%
Total fat 0.8 g 1%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Sodium 2 mg 0%
Potassium 321 mg 9%
Total carbs 35 g 13%
Fiber 3 g 12%
Sugars 30 g
Protein 1 g 2%
Vitamin C 67% DV
Vitamin A 11% DV
Vitamin B6 8% DV

Mangoes are rich in antioxidants, beneficial plant compounds that help neutralize unstable molecules called free radicals. Some of mangoes’ antioxidants include:

  • Phenolic acids – Fight free radical damage and reduce inflammation.
  • Gallic acid – May help inhibit cancer cell growth.
  • Astragalin – Has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Quercetin – Helps regulate blood sugar, reduces heart disease risk factors.

Due to their stellar nutrient and antioxidant profile, mangoes provide some amazing health benefits:

  • Improve heart health – Mangoes contain compounds that reduce cholesterol, improve blood flow and relax blood vessels.
  • Aid digestion – The enzymes and fiber in mangoes support digestive regularity and gastrointestinal health.
  • Regulate blood sugar – Mangoes have a low glycemic index, so they don’t cause sharp blood sugar spikes.
  • Support immunity – Mangoes are packed with vitamin C and antioxidants that boost immune function.
  • Promote eye health – Mangoes contain compounds like vitamin A that are beneficial for vision and preventing macular degeneration.
  • Fight cancer – Certain antioxidants in mangoes may have anticancer abilities to suppress tumor growth.

Tips for cutting, peeling and eating mangoes

Once you have perfectly ripened mangoes ready to enjoy, here are some tips for prepping and eating them:

  • Cut carefully around the pit – Use a sharp knife to slice off the sides, avoiding the fibrous pit. Then score the mango halves and slice the cubes off the skin.
  • Peel with a vegetable peeler – For neat slices and chunks without skin, peel the mango with a Y-shaped vegetable peeler.
  • Flip the mango – For cubes, slice the inside flesh in a grid pattern without cutting through the skin. Then gently push the skin inside out to expose the cubes.
  • Freeze for later – Dice up ripe mango flesh, spread on a tray and freeze. Store frozen pieces in a bag for smoothies, juice or other recipes.
  • Puree into sauces – Blend mango chunks in a food processor or blender for flavorful sauces, chutneys and marinades.

The soft, juicy flesh of mangoes can be enjoyed in many ways. Add fresh mango to fruit salads, yogurt, oatmeal and desserts. Or simply peel, slice and devour on its own for a delicious, healthy treat!


Selecting ripe, unblemished and fragrant mangoes is key to enjoying their full sweetness and rich flavor. Look for fruit that gives slightly when squeezed, has vibrant color and smells fruity and enticing. Mangoes provide many nutritional benefits thanks to their fiber, vitamin C, antioxidants and other nutrients. Allow underripe mangoes to ripen at room temperature for the best texture and taste. Then slice, dice, puree or peel and enjoy this tropical fruit in all its glory!

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