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How to Tell If a Mango Is Ripe (3 Ways)

Vadim Vasenin /Depositphotos

Trust us, you’ll know. If you’re looking for a more specific answer, we’ve got you covered—so read on.

The lush and exquisite mango is known as the king of tropical fruits thanks to its gorgeous look and unique flavor.

Mangos—the stone fruit of the Mangifera indica tree and distant relatives of cashews and pistachios—are sold green in grocery stores and benefit greatly from ripening in the kitchen.

The Best Way to Ripen a Mango

To ripen mangos, place them in a brown paper bag and leave them at room temperature for a few days. They will then release ethylene gas, which will get trapped in the bag and hasten their ripening.

If you don’t have a brown paper bag at hand, place the mangos in a large bowl alongside apples and pears, which produce ethylene gas, and cover the bowl loosely with a clean cloth.

Now that you know how to ripen mangos, the next logical question is, “How can I tell when the mango is ripe enough to eat?”

See below for the illustrated answer.

How to Tell If a Mango Is Ready to Eat

Telling if a mango is ripe enough to eat can be tricky. Unlike other tropical fruits, you can’t necessarily rely on the color of its skin.

As chef Daniel Snowden explains on the blog of FreshPoint, a leading fruit and vegetable distributor in North America, a green mango may as well be a ripe mango. Some varieties of mangos, Snowden says, remain green even when they are fully ripe.

To put it simply, the color of the mango’s skin doesn’t say much—if anything—about its ripeness. Instead, you should sniff the mango near the stem, examine the fruit more closely, and then give the whole fruit a gentle squeeze.

1. Sniff Near the Stem

Take the mango in your hand, hold it to your nose, then breathe out and sniff it vigorously.

A ripe mango smells tropically fruity and nectar-sweet, especially near the stem. If the mango is still green, it doesn’t smell like much at all. And when it’s spoiled, it smells sour, rotten, and unappetizing, like fermented fruit.

2. Take a Good Look at the Fruit

An illustration of an unripe mango (left) next to a ripe mango (right)

Unripe mangos have firm, tough skin. Ripe mangoes still have a firmness to their skin, but they look plump.

Examine the stem. If the stem is indented and surrounded by yellow skin, then the mango is ripe. If the stem is sticking out and surrounded by green skin, it means the mango is still green.

3. Give the Mango a Gentle Squeeze

Hold the mango in the palm of your hand. It should fill its shell and feel heavy for its weight.

Now give the mango a gentle squeeze. If it doesn’t give, it’s not ripe yet. If it gives slightly, with a little resistance, it’s ripe enough to eat. If it doesn’t give at all and is so soft that it feels squishy, it’s so overripe that it may already be spoiled.

What to Do If You Cut an Unripe Mango

You found our guide a little too late and already cut into a green mango. Now, you’re wondering what to do.

Don’t worry, it can happen to anyone, and the good news is that this mango won’t go to waste. Seal it in a plastic bag and keep it in the fridge so it doesn’t spoil. Within a day or two, the sliced mango will have ripened enough to be ready to eat.

The only drawback to this method is that the refrigerator-ripened mango may be less fragrant and less sweet than if you let it ripen at room temperature. Hey, but it’s still better than eating green and bitter mangoes, right?

In Conclusion

They say it’s perfectly fine to eat a green, unripe mango. But if you can ripen it in just a few days by leaving it on the counter, what’s the point?

The most important takeaway from this article is that you shouldn’t judge the ripeness of a mango by the color of its skin. Instead, sniff the fruit, examine it, and give it a gentle squeeze. If the mango smells delicious, the skin around the stem has a yellow hue, and the body is a little soft, it’s ripe.


Jim is the former editor of Home Cook World. He is a career food writer who's been cooking and baking at home ever since he could see over the counter and put a chair by the stove.

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