Mangoes are best enjoyed when they’re ripened to golden perfection. But what would you do if you ended up buying an unripened mango that’s still a bit green?
Before you think about throwing it away or making do with sour fruit – hold up! We have the easiest tips for you on how to ripen mangoes. Read on and let us know how yours turns out!
How to ripen a mango
How to ripen mangoes off the tree
Letting mangoes ripen off the tree is the most natural way to get sweet, juicy fruit. If you’re lucky enough to have a cultivar in your yard, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy a delicious mango or two fresh off the branch. All you need is proper gardening care, a keen eye, and a whole lot of patience. We promise, the result is worth it! Here’s how to know when a mango is ripe:
Give the mango a good, long sniff. If it’s ripe, it will have a sweet fruity scent. Unripe mangoes have a crisp, tart smell – you know you’re going to pucker once you bite into it!
To know which mangoes you should harvest first, take a close look at their colour. Go for the ones that have a faint blush or peach tone. These mangoes are sweet and ready for you to enjoy.
Note: The colour test doesn’t apply to cultivars that retain their green colouring even when ripe. For more information on the different types of mango, check out our guide on mango varieties.
You can also tell by its shape if a mango is ripe. A quick check of its beak (the hooked part of the fruit) says a lot about the ripeness of the fruit. If the beak is filled out or slightly rounded, the mango is ready to eat. Easy as.
Don’t shy away from mangoes with wrinkly or loose-looking skin. More often than not, these are the sweeter ones!
Give the mango a gentle squeeze. When ripe, the fruit is soft and pliant. Unripe mangoes, on the other hand, are firm and hard, much like softballs.
How to ripen mangoes once picked
A lot of mangoes are harvested while they’re still firm. This gives mangoes plenty of time to be stored or transported. Waiting can be a drag, however – especially if you already have your mango menu all lined up. To ripen mangoes once they’re picked, you can do any of these tried-and-tested tips:
Place them in a paper bag or newspaper
Unless patience is your virtue, waiting for several days for your mangoes to ripen can be long and tedious. Not when you’re ready to scoop some yummy mango cubes onto vanilla yoghurt and top the whole thing with granola.
- To ripen mangoes quickly, simply place them in a paper bag and leave them on the kitchen counter overnight. Doing this will release ethylene – aka the fruit-ripening gas – and give you sweet mangoes faster than just letting them be.
- Don’t have a paper bag at home? This is the best time to take out those old newspapers and put them to good use!
Submerge them in uncooked rice or popcorn kernels
This old wives trick is for the likes of us who can’t get enough of the king of fruit AND need ripe ones, pronto.
- Place the mangoes in a container of uncooked rice or corn kernels to ripen them within a day. This method speeds up the ripening process so well, you may actually end up with an overripe mango if you leave them in the container for too long.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. The microwave method can work for you if you’re not after saccharine mangoes. Microwaving won’t really ripen your fruits, but it will help make them softer and less sour-tasting.
- Poke 4-5 holes on your mango with a fork or skewer to let the steam escape.
- Wrap the mango in a paper towel, then heat in the microwave for 10 seconds.
- Repeat the process until you have reached the desired softness. You can sprinkle sugar on your mango slices before eating them, for good measure.
How to ripen mangoes with bananas
Let’s face it – sometimes you’re in such a hurry that you can’t be bothered to scrutinise the mango down to the very last detail. When you’re in the grocery aisle, sniffing and poking a mango may be the last thing you want to do. So what happens when you’re in a tight situation, but need to bring home the first mango you see in the store? You’ll probably end up buying the near-ripe mango, even if it doesn’t look appetising at all.
Don’t lose hope just yet. Hold on to your mangoes – these guys have much potential. With some help from ingredients you can find in your home and a little chemistry, you can soon have sweet-tasting mangoes.
And while you’re in the store, you may want to grab some bananas on your way out. You’re going to need them. Follow the tips below and you’re well on your way to having sugary-sweet store-bought mangoes:
Place the mangoes beside a bunch of ripe bananas
This method is similar to leaving your mangoes at room temperature, but you’ll get quicker results. Remember the part about ethylene? Bananas have plenty of this odourless gas – that’s the reason why they can go from unripe to overripe in no time.
Your mangoes will also benefit from the gas emitted by the ripe bananas if you place them beside each other. Think shared space – you’re getting two ripe fruits for the price of one.
Place mangoes in a paper bag with a ripe banana
Amp up the ripening process and place your mangoes in a paper bag with a ripe banana. Your fruits will be ripe from the ethylene overload before you know it. Mango sorbet, here I come!
How to ripen green mangoes
For most mango lovers, trying to ripen a green mango can be quite a challenge. Here you are, imagining that you’re about to have some of that succulent fruit, then reality bites. You’re probably thinking, what’s the best way to ripen a green mango? Lucky for you, we have the perfect solution.
Store them at room temperature
This is the most hassle-free method to ripen green mangoes. Simply letting nature run its course will reward you with mangoes that are just as good as sun-ripened ones. Wait and see (literally)!
- Depending on how unripe your mangoes are, you may have to wait for 5-8 days before you can enjoy them.
- Protect the mangoes from insects by wrapping them with a plastic bag with holes. Don’t forget this important step, otherwise you’ll end up with a mouldy mango, which I’m pretty sure you don’t want to eat.
- At this point, resist any and all attempts to put the mangoes in the fridge (unless you want to end up eating cold, sour fruit). Refrigerating is a good storage option for mangoes, but the cold temperature will only stunt their ripening process. Arrange the freshly picked mangoes on a nice fruit tray, if that helps you with the waiting.
Place them in a cardboard box
It’s basically the same principle as wrapping mangoes in newspaper or placing them in a brown bag. Storing them in a cardboard box is a nifty trick when you have plenty of mangoes to ripen. It’s not a good idea to throw in a ripe banana while your mangoes are still green, though. The banana may be overripe or even spoiled by the time your mangoes ripen.
Growing your own mango tree
There’s no contest – sun-ripened mangoes are the best-tasting ones! A mango ripened off the tree is definitely sweeter and plumper. And it’s not just the fruit that you’ll get to enjoy when you have your own plant. Mango trees also provide shade and wood. This tree can surely be stretched to a dozen uses!
To learn more about how to grow a mango tree in your own backyard (and other mango trivia), read our complete guide on mangoes. Start planting one today and be rewarded with the golden fruits of your labour in the future!