While mangoes are arguably the most popular fruit in the world, their widespread availability in Canada is a somewhat recent phenomenon. As more people travel the world, and as more people who grew up in a warmer climate now call Canada home, the mango has become a regular staple in supermarket produce sections.
When ripe, mangoes have a soft, juicy, intensely floral character that is synonymous with tropical getaways and sweet sunshine. When unripe, they’re hard and lacking in the rich, soft, juicy texture that makes a ripe mango so delicious.
So how do you pick a perfectly ripe mango from a pile at the grocery store?
It’s hard to generalize, as there are many different types of mangoes with different shapes, colours and flavours that all have different ripeness cues.
Your best bet is always to feel the mango with your fingers. When gently squeezed, a mango that’s ripe and ready to eat should give slightly to pressure. If it’s hard as a rock, it’s not yet ripe.
Colour, curiously enough, isn’t a reliable indicator of ripeness, as not all locally available varieties show off their ripeness visually. Some mangoes with brightly coloured red and yellow skin are not necessarily ripe, while some types of mangoes do change colour as they ripen and mature, taking on a more golden hue.
If you can’t find a ripe mango, you can always buy an unripe mango and let it ripen at room temperature for a few days at home. If speed is of the essence, put it in a brown paper bag to accelerate the ripening process.
For some uses, you don’t need a fully ripe mango. If it’s being cooked or baked (or possibly used for pickling), a mango that isn’t fully ripe may be well suited to your needs. But for eating fresh, the riper the mango the better.