How To Tell If A Mango Is Bad (Plus Storage Tips!)

The mango, a delicious and juicy fruit, is available year-round to consumers in the U.S. This tropical fruit has between 500 and 1000 varieties that vary in taste, color, and shelf life. With such a large bounty of mangoes available in the stores, you have a pick of the best fruit, but how do you tell if a mango is bad?

scored mangoes in a white bowl

A mango that has gone bad has a lot of bruising with moldy black spots on the skin. The mango, when pressed, will feel very soft and mushy. When smelling the stem end, the mango will give off a sour or alcoholic smell. A liquid that is thick and sticky will ooze from the mango.

If you know how to choose a mango and the best way to store the mango, it will help to prevent your mango from going bad. Read on for some interesting information about how best to select and keep your mangoes.

How To Choose The Best Mango At The Store

First, let’s talk about choosing a mango in the first place. There are usually wide varieties of mangoes, often of different colors, that you will find at the store.

So don’t choose a mango by its color. Some types may ripen from green to red, and some may become yellow and ripen when they turn orange. The best way to select the choicest mango is by touch and smell.

If the mango is firm to the touch and has no fruity smell, the mango is still unripe. If you select this mango, remember that it will take some time before it becomes soft and ripe. But if the fruit is soft to the touch and has a fruity smell, the mango is ripe and ready to be eaten.

Also, look out for any black spots on the mango. If there are a few black spots, the fruit has already ripened. If the skin has started wrinkling, then this indicates the mango is ripe and will soon become overripe.

stack of mangoes with text 'How to Tell if Mangoes Are Spoiled'

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How To Tell if a Mango is Bad

You might think an overripe mango has gone bad. But there is a difference between an overripe mango and one that is no longer good to eat. The following signs will tell you if the mango is bad.

Sign #1: There Will Be Surface Damage

The mango skin will have many bruised areas, and some spots may turn black. Look closely at the skin; are there specks of mold growing on the surface? This is a definite sign that the fruit is going bad or is already bad and should not be eaten.

Sign #2: There Is Liquid Oozing From The Skin

Sometimes a mango will have some juice leaking, which signifies that the fruit is ripe. However, if the liquid oozing from the mango is thick and sticky, the mango has gone bad and should be discarded.

Sign #3: The Mango Feels Very Soft (Mushy)

If the mango is mushy in only a few areas, it could be that the fruit is overripe in these spots and can be cut out. But if the whole mango feels mushy, the fruit’s cell walls have already broken down and gone bad.

Sign #4: The Mango Has An Alcoholic Smell

Smell the mango at the stem end, where the smell will be stronger. If the mango smells sour or like alcohol, the fruit has begun to ferment, and the mango has gone bad.

Below you can see the progression of one variety of mangoes. On the far right is the underripe mango, with the mangoes progressively getting riper to the left. The mango on the far left is no longer good to eat.

mangoes from underripe to spoiled

Learn to examine more fruits for signs of spoilage: strawberries, lemon, watermelon, or peaches.

The Difference Between An Overripe Mango And A Mango Gone Bad

The period between a ripe and rotting mango is an overripe mango. You will notice that the fruit is softer than ideal and squashy. A good way to distinguish this is to give the fruit a little press with your finger, and if the pressure indents the skin, the mango is overripe.

The skin of the mango may also start to shrivel. It may have a strong fruity scent, and when peeled, it will be very juicy. The fruit will also be a darker shade compared to a ripe mango. At this stage, the mango is safe to eat.

When the mango is past being overripe, it will start to show black spots on the skin and also some signs of mold. The fruit will feel very soft and mushy. Much more than when the mango is just overripe.

The smell will be more of an alcohol or sour smell than the strong fruity scent when the fruit is ripe. There may also be some sticky and thick liquid oozing out of the skin, which is a definite sign that the mango has gone bad.

Using Up Overripe Mango

If you’ve determine that your mango is simply overripe and not rotten, you’ll want to use it up quickly! There are a variety of ways you can do this.

Probably my favorite way is to use it in smoothies! My Peach Mango Strawberry Smoothie or my Mango Cherry Smoothie are both delicious (just freeze the mango first!)

I’ve also made mango parfaits and mango ice cream when I had ultra sweet, ripe mango on hand. Yum!

What is a Mango’s Shelf Life?

If the mango is unripe, it will take 1 to 7 days to ripen. This will depend on how you store the fruit. If the mango is left at room temperature, it will take longer to ripen. But if you have placed it in a brown paper bag or next to apples or bananas, the mango will ripen much quicker.

Mangoes that have just ripened will last for about 2 to 3 days if stored at room temperature. If you place the mangoes in the fridge, they will last for about 5 to 7 days before they become overripe. A mango cubed and stored in the freezer will last about 6 to 12 months.

The Best Way To Store Mangoes

Depending on whether the fruit is unripe or ripe, there are different methods to store a mango. An unripe mango will be firm to the touch. When ripe, mangoes will feel soft when pressed and have a fruity smell.

How To Store Unripe Mangoes

Leave your unripe mangoes in a dim area at room temperature. Check the mango daily to see if the fruit is starting to ripen. You can lightly press the fruit to see if it is becoming soft and tender. Also, smell the mango; once it begins to ripen, it will have a deliciously sweet scent.

If you want the mangoes to ripen quicker, place them in a brown paper bag and leave them on the kitchen counter. After 2 to 3 days, the mangoes should be ripe. The higher temperature in the closed paper bag allows the fruit to ripen quickly.

Or alternatively, you could place the mango in a bowl with other fruit such as apples or bananas. These fruits will emit a large amount of ethylene gas which will help with the ripening process of the mango.

How To Store Ripe Mangoes

The best way to keep ripe mangoes is to place them in the fridge. Putting freshly bought mangoes in the refrigerator will slow down the spoilage process. You can store mangoes in the fridge for up to 7 days; after this, they will begin to show signs of decay.

If you peel and slice the fresh mangoes, store them in an airtight container in the fridge. The container will limit exposure to oxygen. Keeping the mango in this way shields the fruit from being affected by the smell of other strong-flavored food in the fridge. Cut mangoes will last 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator.

How To Store A Mango In The Freezer

You can store a mango in the freezer when it has already ripened. The frozen mango can be used in baking items such as muffins or cheesecake when it is thawed. Frozen mango pieces are perfect to use in smoothies. Here is how to freeze a mango.

  • Peel and cut the mango into cubes
  • Use a cookie tray, line it with baking paper, and place a single layer of mango cubes in the tray.
  • Place this tray in the freezer for 2 to 3 hours until the mango cubes are frozen.
  • Remove the tray from the freezer, remove the cubes and transfer them to a freezer bag.
  • Squeeze out the air, seal the bag, and place the mango cubes back in the freezer.

You can store a mango in the freezer for 6 to 12 months, but it is best to use it within 6 months. When defrosting, remove the mango chunks from the freezer and leave them overnight in the fridge.

Conclusion

Mangoes are such a delicious tropical fruit. My personal favorite is the Altufa mango, which is ultra sweet and succulent. However, spoiled mangoes are no fun. Make sure to check the appearance and smell of your mangoes before eating them. Don’t let them sit too long or you’ll waste all their succulent goodness!

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