Here’s How to Pick a Ripe Mango

Why mango color has nothing to do with its ripeness.

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If you’ve ever cut into a mango that isn’t ripe yet, you’re familiar with the crushing disappointment of premature produce. A ripe mango is sweet, juicy, and luxurious to the taste buds … and an underripe mango is anything but! Let’s vow to never make that mistake again.

When picking mango at the grocery store, don’t bother looking at the color of the mango. Although it’s normal for this tropical fruit to change colors as it ripens, there is no one ripe mango color. Some are ready when they’re red; others are ripe when they’re green. Instead, apply a little pressure with your fingers (just like you do when you check avocados for ripeness). A ripe mango should give just slightly to gentle pressure.

But here’s a mango shopping tip: if you’re not going to use that use the mango for a few days, try buying one that is a little more firm. That way, the mango will be perfectly ripe by the time you’re ready to chop into it. A slightly firm mango (emphasis on “slightly”) is also better for savory recipes like mango salsa, so the diced mango doesn’t become mushy.

On the other hand, a mango that gives too much to gentle pressure may be too ripe. Only buy mangoes that soft if you plan on using them right away for something that will be blended, like a smoothie. If the mango is completely mushy, save your cash and pick a different one.

Another mango-picking tip: Don’t cut into that mango before giving it a quick sniff. A ripe mango will give off a fragrant, sweet aroma. Underripe mangoes will not have much of a scent yet, and overripe mangoes will start giving off that unpleasant spoiled smell. In other words, if your mango smells like mango, you’re ready to go. Check out our guide for how to cut and peel mangoes like a pro.