May is for Mangoes

May. The month that every one dreads for intense searing heat, blazing sunshine. It is also the month that mangoes are at their peak. While mangoes are available in India right from the month of March, I firmly believer that they taste their best only in May. The heat allows them to ripen naturally and their colour and flavour is best enhanced in these conditions. It is often called the King of Fruits.

Choosing mangoes, mango, fruit.
Lovely ripe mangos fill the air with their intoxicatingly sweet fragrance that is sure to tempt passerbys to buy them.

It is widely known that fruit that is available in earlier months may be artificially ripened using various techniques. That obviously prevents the real flavour from developing. Reports state that Carbide is often used to ripen mangoes. Since they are available much before their natural ripenening period, they are obviously very costly and yet do not taste like the real thing.
So how do we know?

  • First and foremost, one must inspect the fruit before buying it. Check the area of the stalk. My regular mango vendor has told me that fruit where this portion (around the stalk) is raised has been plucked early from the tree. That prevents it from developing its full flavour on the tree which is a must.
  • In additon also check the curve of the fruit. The curve must be gentle and not a deep depression. The image I have added here will better explain what I have just said.

Choosing mangoes, artificially ripened fruit
Check the curve on the mango. It must be a gentle curve and not a deep depression

  • Check the skin for any obvious marks that suggest application of any powders etc. This article mentions that mango’s ripened with carbide have a uniform yellow colour. Such fruit are not ripe on the inside and is not sweet. Here is a link that describes how to detect a carbide-ripened mango. Hold a lit match stick near the mango surface. If it gives out sparks or catches fire then its quite likely to have been ripened using calcium carbide.

There  are still few more days for the Alphonso season. Thereafter there are many other varieties each with it a unique flavour. Try them and continue to enjoy the fruit at its natural peak season.

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