Health: How to identify chemically-ripened mangoes

    It’s the season of mangoes, and the market is flooded with them.

    But, as the demand for juicy mangoes increases, the marketers chemically inject them which ripen them quickly so that the supply remains stable.

    If you are also a mango lover, then here are some tips for identifying such mangoes that are loaded with chemicals.

    Which chemical is used for the ripening process?

    Climacteric fruits like mangoes are often artificially ripened by using ripening agents. Some of these agents include:

    1. Ethylene gas: It is considered to be the most popular fruit ripening method done with the use of ethylene gas in ripening rooms. Studies say that the method can increase the respiration rate and levels of endogenous ethylene in the fruit that will help induce ripening, probably within 12 hours.
    2. Ethephon: It is an ethylene releasing compound that penetrates inside the fruit cells and decomposes to ethylene, thus increasing the rate of ripening. A study has shown that mangoes pre-storage treatment with 500 mg/L ethephon for five minutes can promote early ripening in the fruit.
    3. Calcium carbide: In many developing countries, calcium carbide is widely used as an artificial ripening agent as it produces acetylene gas when hydrolysed, which has similar effects to ethylene. Acetylene helps enhance mangoes ripening and gives them a good flavour, colour and soft texture.
    4. Ethylene glycol: It is a commonly used antifreeze or coolant that promotes faster ripening of the fruit under cold climacteric conditions. The coolant is diluted with water before usage. Studies say that ethylene glycol can change the colour of the fruit within two days, without any loss of palatability.

    Commercial calcium carbide may contain small amounts of phosphorus hydride and arsenic which is poisonous to humans and may cause symptoms like vomiting, difficulty in swallowing, diarrhoea, burning eyes, thirst and weakness.

    Acetylene gas produced may cause symptoms like dizziness, seizure, headache and even coma.

    Though ethephon is approved to be noncarcinogenic to humans by International Agency for Research on Cancer, it is reported to have hepatoxic effects and may cause problems to the liver

    How To Identify Artificially Ripened Mangoes?

    According to a study, around 78 per cent of consumers are not aware of the methods to identify artificially ripened mangoes. Some of the easy ways may include:

    1. Appearance

    Experts say that an artificially ripened fruit would not have uniform peel colour, for example, the mango would have patches of green while the overall colour would be yellow.

    1. Availability

    Fruits that are available in the market before their season are often artificially ripened. For mangoes, the peak season is between May to September. According to the National Horticulture Board, the major harvesting season for mangoes in North Indian states like Gujarat and Bihar is May to August, while in South Indian states like Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, it’s mainly April to July.

    1. Touch method

    The touch method is one of the best methods to distinguish artificially ripened mangoes. This is because ripening done with the help of chemicals causes fast chemical reactions in the fruit, which releases heat in the process and causes the fruit to feel warm when touched.

    1. Floating test

    Calcium carbide ripened mangoes weigh lesser compared to mangoes that are ripened naturally. According to a study, calcium carbide induces negative changes in the physical features of the fruit such as its weight, firmness and pH levels. This is why when the treated mangoes are dropped in water, they float while the naturally ripened ones sink. Best Refreshing And Kid-Friendly Recipe: How To Prepare Raw Mango Popsicles

    1. Juiciness

    When artificially ripened mangoes are sliced, they produce little or no juice dripping out, compared to a lot of juice in the naturally ripened ones. This is because the latter gets enough time to ripe with the help of water sucked from the trees, while the prior is harvested at an early age.

    1. Taste

    Artificially ripened mangoes may taste astringent due to the increased concentration of vitamin C due to calcium carbide ripening. Also, the taste buds may feel a bit sense of burning upon consumption. Naturally ripened mangoes taste sweeter than artificially ripened ones.

    1. Colour of the pulp

    When artificially ripened mangoes are sliced, the colour of the pulp would not be uniform, as it may vary from light to dark yellow, while the naturally ripened mangoes have a uniform bright reddish to yellow shade. Also, the fruit will look ripe from the outside but the pulp will not be ripe.

    1. Match stick test

    This test is not recommended by experts; however, one can do it with safety measures to identify artificially ripened mangoes. All you need to do is pick a mango and bring a lighted match stick near to it. If it sparkles or catches fire, the mangoes are ripened with calcium carbide. Avoid bringing a lighted match stick near the whole box or bundle of mangoes.

    1. Black spots

    Carbide ripped mangoes may start ripening at a faster rate and get black spots or patches within two or three days of buying.

    1. White powder

    White powder or arsenic traces can be seen in the peel of mangoes as a result of carbide ripening.

    1. Aroma

    Naturally ripened mangoes give out a heavenly strong aroma due to ripening naturally with ethylene, compared to artificial ones that smell differently.

    Things You Can Do

    Wash mangoes before consumption. It may help remove traces of chemical compounds like calcium carbide.

    Peeling the fruit may also help minimise the risk of health hazards caused due to ripening agents.

    Avoid buying the fruit off-season.