Mangoes are a delicious tropical fruit that can spoil quickly if not handled properly after harvesting. Knowing how to identify signs of fresh versus bad mangoes can help avoid accidentally eating spoiled fruit. This article covers indicators of ripe and rotten mangoes, proper storage methods, causes of spoilage, if moldy mangoes can be safely eaten, and how long mangoes last refrigerated or frozen. Using these guidelines can help ensure you are able to enjoy mangoes at peak freshness.
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Signs of a Fresh Mango
Here are some signs that indicate a mango is optimally ripe and ready to eat:
- Sweet, fruity aroma. Gives off a tropical, peach-like scent when ripe.
- Vibrant exterior color. Skin is red, yellow, orange, or some combination.
- Slight softness. Gives slightly when gently squeezed.
- Smooth skin. Free of wrinkles, bruises, spots or blemishes.
- Tender flesh. Inside flesh is juicy and buttery, not fibrous.
- Orange/yellow interior. Ripe mangoes have a rich golden orange flesh.
- Green stems. The stem is still fresh and green, not brown or brittle.
Underripe mangoes will be very firm with green skin. Overripe mangoes will be mushy with brown stems.
What Causes Mangoes to Go Bad?
There are a several factors that can lead to mango spoilage:
- Enzymatic breakdown. Naturally occurring enzymes speed up ripening but also eventual decay.
- Microbial growth. Bacteria, molds and yeasts grow rapidly on ripe, damaged, or cut mangoes.
- Physical injury. Bruising, impact, and improper cutting speeds up deterioration.
- Temperature. Heat exposure hastens the ripening enzymes while cold damages mangoes.
- Ethylene exposure. This naturally occurring ripening gas triggers over-ripening.
- Respiration. Mangoes continue respiring after harvest, using up nutrients.
Proper post-harvest handling and storage helps slow spoilage processes.
7 Signs That Your Mango Is Bad
How to Tell If a Mango Is Bad? Look for these key signs that indicate a mango has spoiled and should be discarded:
1. Mold Growth
Growth of mold on the surface or inside a mango is one of the clearest signs it is spoiled. You may see dry, fuzzy white, grey, black or blue mold developing in spots.
Never eat a mango with any mold growth. Mold can spread through fruit invisibly and release toxic compounds. Promptly discard moldy mangoes.
Key Point: Visible mold growing on the skin or flesh means the mango is bad.
2. Soft Spots or Bruising
Fresh mangoes feel firm with smooth skin. As mangoes start to spoil, soft spots, indentations and bruising develops on the surface. The watery flesh turns translucent or mushy underneath.
This softening happens as cell walls break down from pectin-dissolving enzymes and microbial activity. Any mushy spots indicate the mango should be discarded.
Key Point: Mangoes develop soft, mushy spots and wet bruising on the surface when they start to spoil.
3. Wrinkled Skin
Fresh, ripe mango skin appears smooth and taut. As the fruit deteriorates, the skin becomes increasingly wrinkled, pitted and shriveled looking.
Excess moisture is lost as the mango goes bad, causing it to shrivel. Deep wrinkles or a deflated appearance signal the mango is overripe with diminished flavor and texture.
Key Point: The mango skin shrivels and wrinkles as it loses moisture during spoilage.
4. Fermented Odor
Ripe, fresh mango has a distinctly sweet, fruity aroma. As it starts to spoil, an increasingly strong, fermented smell develops.
Some describe the stench of a bad mango as winy, alcoholic or like overripe fruit. A powerfully sour, unpleasant odor means the mango is deteriorating and should be discarded.
Key Point: There is a distinct fermented, alcoholic odor when mango goes bad.
5. Off Colors
Good ripe mangoes are yellow, orange-yellow or red-orange. As they spoil, mangoes turn brownish, dull yellow or translucent in areas. The rotting flesh darkens and may get water-soaked spots.
Discoloration happens as pigments degrade over time. Mangoes with unappetizing dull or dark colors should not be eaten.
Key Point: Mangoes turn from orange-yellow to brown, dull yellow or translucent as they deteriorate.
6. Liquid Oozing
As a mango rots internally, microbial gases can build up inside causing the fruit to ooze sap or other liquids from the stem end or pit opening.
Exuding fluid is a clear sign the mango has spoiled. The ooze can also attract fruit flies and create a mess. Mangoes with any leakage should be promptly discarded.
Key Point: Fluid leaking from the mango’s skin signals severe spoilage.
7. Slimy Texture
Fresh mango feels juicy but not slimy. As it starts to decay, excessive bacterial and yeast growth causes a sticky, tacky slimy texture to develop in deteriorating spots.
Slimy areas on mangoes have an unappetizing appearance and texture. This indicates unsafe microbial levels, so mangoes with slimy regions should be fully discarded.
Key Point: Slimy, gooey textures mean the mango has spoiled from high microbial overgrowth.
How to Store Mango?
The mango is a deliciously sweet tropical fruit enjoyed around the world. However, mangoes are highly perishable and require proper storage methods to preserve freshness and extend shelf life.
Follow these guidelines to retain mango flavor and avoid spoilage and waste.
Storing Unripe Mangoes
Mangoes are often purchased firm and underripe. Here is how to store green mangoes:
- Leave at room temperature on the counter top out of direct sunlight.
- Placing in a paper bag traps ethylene gas and speeds ripening.
- Depending on ripeness level, mangoes ripen at 65-75°F within 2-7 days.
- Do not refrigerate unripe mangoes. The cold damages the ripening process.
- Wait for mangoes to develop reddish, yellow, or orange skin color indicating ripening has begun.
Storing unripe mangoes properly allows them to finish the ripening process for the best texture, flavor and juiciness.
Storing Ripe Mangoes
For ripe mangoes ready to eat:
- Refrigerate ripe, uncut mangoes if not consuming immediately. Ripe mangoes last 5-7 days refrigerated.
- Leave whole and unpeeled. Peeling and slicing accelerates spoilage once exposed to air.
- Place mangoes in perforated plastic bag. This prevents condensation while allowing air flow.
- Keep refrigerated mangoes away from foods with strong odors like onions that can permeate the fruit.
- Allow refrigerated mangoes to come to room temperature before eating for fuller flavor and juiciness.
Proper cold storage retains the ripe mango’s taste and texture for enjoying its sweetness within a week.
Storing Cut Mangoes
After slicing into a mango:
- Rub the exposed flesh with lemon or lime juice to prevent oxidation.
- Refrigerate prepared mango in an airtight container or wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.
- Press plastic wrap directly on the surfaces of cut pieces to minimize air exposure.
- Eat within 2-3 days for the best quality and flavor.
Once peeled, sliced and opened up, mangoes deteriorate rapidly. Acidic treatment and sealing in moisture extends the usability for a couple days.
Mango can also be frozen to preserve quality and extend shelf life. Here are some tips:
- Peel, core and cut mangoes into pieces or slices. Or puree fruit into a smooth pulp.
- For pieces, spread in single layer on tray and freeze initially until solid, about 2 hours.
- Pack into labeled freezer bags or airtight containers, removing as much air as possible.
- Seal and freeze at 0°F for up to 6 months.
- Use frozen mango straight from freezer to make smoothies or thaw overnight in the fridge before using.
With this method, frozen mango retains its bright color and rich sweet flavor when incorporated into various recipes.
Storing Dried Mango
Properly dried mango slices can be stored for extended durations:
- Pat off any condensation or moisture from dried mango before packaging. Excess moisture accelerates spoilage.
- Place dried mango pieces into freezer bags or airtight storage containers. Press out air.
- Store in a cool, dry place away from light. Or refrigerate for up to 1 year or freeze for longer storage.
- If sugar or preservatives were not used in drying, refrigerate or freeze dried mango.
Follow basic dried fruit storage principles to maximize shelf life of dried mango slices or leather.
Optimal Mango Refrigerator Placement
The ideal placement for mangoes in the refrigerator is:
- On a middle or upper shelf, not in the door where temperature fluctuates
- In a perforated plastic produce bag to prevent excess moisture
- Away from ethylene-producing fruits like bananas and apples
- Separated from strongly scented foods like onions
- Away from vents for optimal consistent temperature
- For cut mango, in an airtight container on a middle shelf
A stable temperature and proper humidity retained through packaging prevents damage to refrigerated mangoes.
Can Spoiled Mangoes Make You Sick?
Yes, eating mangoes that have spoiled can potentially lead to foodborne illness. The main risks are from molds:
Moldy mangoes often develop from fungal species like Fusarium, Alternaria, and Cladosporium. Some molds can produce toxic compounds called mycotoxins. Consuming large amounts may cause illness.
However, human sickness directly linked to mycotoxins on mangoes seems uncommon. Still, it’s smart to promptly discard mangoes showing any mold growth.
In rare cases, people may have an allergic reaction to fresh or frozen mango. This can cause itchy rash, swelling, upset stomach, or difficulty breathing. Those with latex allergies seem to have greater risk of reaction.
Key Point: Mold and possible mold toxins make spoiled mangoes potentially hazardous if consumed in excess. Allergic reactions are also a small risk.
Can You Rescue a Mango That’s Gone Bad?
No, mangoes showing clear signs of spoilage like mold, soft spots, and fermented odors should be discarded. There is no way to safely reverse the deterioration process.
Do not attempt to salvage spoiled mangoes by cutting away just the visibly bad parts. Any bacteria, mold and enzymes likely run deeper through the fruit. Likewise, cooking does not destroy many potential toxins.
Freezing or pickling likewise cannot make a spoiled mango safe for eating again. If a mango shows rotting, throw it out to avoid the risks of foodborne illness.
Key Point: Mangoes that are mushy, moldy or smell bad are unsafe to eat and should be fully discarded.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can you speed up ripening of mangoes?
Place mangoes in a paper bag together at room temperature to increase their exposure to natural ethylene gas. Adding a banana to the bag will further aid ripening.
Is it okay to eat the mango peel?
The peel is edible but often discarded since it’s bitter, fibrous, and contains irritating sap. Those with latex allergies may react to the sap and should avoid it.
Why is there stringy stuff around the mango pit?
These fibers are called vascular bundles and help distribute nutrients and water within the fruit. While fibrous in texture, they are entirely edible. Just cut close to the pit to avoid.
Can old mangoes make you sick if cooked thoroughly?
It’s still risky to eat spoiled, overripe mangoes even after cooking. Heat does not neutralize toxins or destroy mold and bacteria growth entirely.
Is it possible to be allergic to mangoes?
Yes, mango allergy is possible but not common. Reactions are usually mild like itchy mouth and throat. Those allergic to poison ivy may also react due to similarities between urushiol compounds.
Identifying signs of fresh versus bad mangoes prevents consumption of spoiled, rotten fruit. Allow unripe mangoes to ripen at room temperature before refrigerating ripe ones. Check frequently for mold, bruising, and off-odors. Refrigerate cut mangoes promptly in airtight containers. Know that moldy mangoes should be fully discarded. Following proper storage and handling guidelines allows you to best enjoy the sweet flavor of mangoes at their freshest.