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How to Identify if a Mango is Naturally or Chemically Ripened?

Chemically ripened mangoes are treated with artificial preservatives, including calcium carbide to speed up ripening. It poses health risks like skin irritation and respiratory issues.

Saurabh Shukla
How to Identify if Mango is Naturally or Chemically Ripened (Photo Source: Pixabay)
How to Identify if Mango is Naturally or Chemically Ripened (Photo Source: Pixabay)

Summer is the perfect time to enjoy one of nature's most delicious gifts - mangoes. In India, where they are considered the king of fruits, mangoes are enjoyed in various forms such as mango lassi, shakes, and aam ras. However, with the start of the mango season, it's important to make sure that the mangoes we consume are free from harmful chemicals.

Indian Mangoes come in a different variety, including Alphonso, Ratnagiri, chausa, and more each cultivated by farmers across the country. The high demand for mangoes has turned cultivation and distribution into a profitable business. However, this demand has led to malpractices, such as the distribution of chemically ripened mangoes, which pose significant health risks.

Understanding Chemically Ripened Mangoes and Side Effects

Chemically ripened mangoes undergo a process where artificial preservatives and chemicals are used to speed up the ripening process. This process often involves the use of calcium carbide, a substance that releases acetylene gas upon contact with moisture. While this accelerates the ripening process, it poses significant health hazards.

Exposure to acetylene gas can result in skin irritation, respiratory issues, and gastrointestinal discomfort if ingested. Additionally, fruit traders resort to "ethylene treatment," wherein mangoes are exposed to ethylene gas, a natural plant hormone that induces ripening. Despite its natural origin, prolonged exposure to ethylene can have adverse effects on human health. This practice aims to meet the soaring demand for mangoes by reducing the time required for ripening and extending their shelf life.

7 Ways to Identify Chemical-Free Mangoes: 

  • Skin Colour: Chemically ripened mangoes often have a uniform color ranging from yellow to orange, and sometimes a shiny outer coat due to chemical treatments. Natural mangoes have non-uniform, patchy coloring.

  • Smell test: These mangoes can be identified by their distinct chemical or artificial smell, which is different from the pleasant, fruity fragrance of naturally ripened mangoes.

  • Sink Test: When purchasing mangoes, a simple water test can reveal their ripeness. Submerge the mangoes in a bucket of water and observe their behavior: those that sink are naturally ripe, while those that float have likely been treated with chemicals.

  • Firmness: Mangoes made with chemicals are usually softer and mushier compared to naturally ripened mangoes. The excessive use of chemicals weakens the cell structure, resulting in a softer texture. Natural mangoes are a balance between softness and firmness.

  • Bruises and Spots: While some bruising is normal, chemically ripened mangoes often exhibit excessive bruising and spotting, indicative of the adverse effects of chemical treatments. Natural mangoes are less likely to have extensive external damage.

  • Taste Test: A taste test can distinguish between natural and artificially ripened mangoes. Those ripened artificially often have a bland, taste and a bitter aftertaste, while natural mangoes boast a sweet and pleasant flavor without any bitterness.

  • Juiciness: Natural mangoes are known for their juiciness, ideal for making refreshing beverages like aam panna. However, chemically ripened mangoes typically contain minimal to no juice, even upon squeezing, due to alterations in their composition.

As we enjoy a lot of summer's harvest, it's important to prioritize our health by ensuring that the mangoes we consume are free from harmful chemicals. By using these simple methods to identify chemical-free mangoes, we can enjoy the true essence of this beloved fruit while safeguarding our well-being. 

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