Why Mangos Taste Like Pine
If you’ve ever bitten into a Mango and had your mouth flooded with the overwhelming flavor of a pine grove, you may have wondered exactly what’s going on. Some people love them, while others don’t. However, this leaves many people asking, why do mangos taste like pine?
Mangos taste like pine because they’re not fully ripe and have potentially potent compounds. There are 30 chemicals that make up mangos, there are five important ones that mangos share with pine needles: α-pinene, β-pinene, limonene, myrcene and camphene.
If you prefer sweet and fruity rather than piney, you’ll have to wait for them to ripen. This article will further discuss the chemicals pine needles and mangos share and explore the science behind the strange taste phenomenon.
In addition, it’ll provide you with some tips on determining whether mangos are fully ripe, how to hurry the ripening process along and how to store ripe mangoes properly.
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Mangos & Pine Needles Share 5 Important Chemicals
Mangos share five key components of their chemical makeup with pine needles. These five components are:
Incidentally, these five chemicals are somewhat responsible for the distinctive smell for which pine needles are known 1. Since a human’s sense of taste is strongly linked to his sense of smell, picking up on these chemicals in mangos affects both senses, making you smell and taste pine.
There’s also another flavor compound found in mangos that contributes to the piney taste 2. It’s called 3-carene, and it’s what’s also known as a terpene 3. Terpenes are most often found in conifers, like pine trees, and give off a woodsy, piney aroma and flavor.
TIP: While hiking, I take organic dried mangos with me as a great snack and easier than bringing a whole fruit. They offer a wide variety on Amazon which are affordable. Check them out by clicking here, Organic Dried Mangos.
Unripe Mangos Often Have a Pine-Needle Taste
If you’re less interested in the science behind the issue of why mangos taste like pine and want a simple answer, I’ve got you covered there, as well.
In short, if your mango tastes like pine, it probably isn’t fully ripe. The scent, flavor, and texture of an unripe mango are entirely different from the scent, flavor, and texture of that same mango once it’s ripened.
This is most likely because the terpenes and other above-listed chemicals are more potent and more prevalent when a mango is unripe. The more prevalent these chemicals are, the more likely you’ll be to taste pine when you eat the mango.
Ripe Mangos Taste Sweet & Fruity
As mangos ripen, the afore-mentioned chemicals are toned down some. The pine flavor gives way in favor of the more traditional sweet, fruity flavor generally associated with mangos.
It’s important to remember there are several mango varieties 4. Although none of them should taste like pine when ripe, some of them are naturally a little more tart and/or bitter than others.
In most parts of America, the most commonly sold mango varieties are Hayden mangos and Tommy Atkins mangos. They’re both naturally sweet, although the Hayden variety may have a slightly bitter aftertaste. The Tommy Atkins variety is more tart than some mangos.
How To Tell if a Mango Is Ripe
Because there are so many different mango varieties, there’s no single way to tell when a mango is fully ripe based solely on color 5.
The Hayden and Tommy Atkins mangos will be primarily red when ripe while the honey mango has no red on it at all. Instead, it’ll turn a deep yellow when it’s fully ripened. On the other hand, Keitt and Kent mangos stay mostly green even once they’re at peak ripeness 6.
One of the best ways to tell if a mango of any variety is ripe is to squeeze it. An unripe mango won’t give under your squeeze. It’ll remain hard and firm like a green apple.
If the mango gives when you squeeze it, much like a lemon or lime would if squeezed, it’s a good indicator that it’s ripe. If it gives like a tomato, it’s likely too ripe.
How To Ripen a Mango
Now that you know a little about how to tell whether or not a mango is ripe, let’s talk about how to help speed up the ripening process. One of the most awful things in the world is having delicious fruit in your home that you can’t eat because it hasn’t yet ripened. Therefore, what’s the best way to ripen a mango?
Place your mangos on the counter at room temperature for them to ripen. If you want them to ripen faster, store them in a closed paper bag 7.
You could simply place your mangos in a fruit basket. Amazon has a ton of adorable ones listed at affordable prices. Check them out by clicking here, fruit baskets. If you leave them at room temperature, they’ll ripen on their own.
If you can’t wait to eat them, though, you can help hurry mangos along. All you have to do is roll them up in a paper bag and store them at room temperature. They’ll ripen much quicker in a paper bag than in a fruit basket.
This quick YouTube video shows you exactly how to squeeze mangos to test their ripeness and quicken the ripening process:
How To Properly Store Whole Mangos
You should never put mangoes in the refrigerator until they’ve fully ripened. Always leave them out either in a fruit basket, paper bag or sitting on the counter at room temperature until ripe. Once they have, you can then put them in the fridge to slow down the process and keep them from becoming overripe too quickly.
Once a mango is fully ripe, it can usually stay in the fridge for about five days before you have to eat it or trash it. If you like your mangos a little overly ripe, which tends to make them softer and sweeter, leave them out at room temperature even after they’ve ripened. Although they’ll only last a couple of days unrefrigerated.
How To Properly Store Cut Mangos
If you’ve already cut the mangos up and need to store them, place the pieces in an airtight container and put them in the fridge. They’ll keep for several days.
You can also freeze cut mango pieces for up to six months 8. The great thing about freezing mango pieces is that there’s no prep work involved. If you already have them sliced and diced, simply put them in a freezer-safe, airtight bag or container. Make a note of the date and slide them in the freezer compartment.
Unlike fruits and vegetables that have been blanched, the mangos shouldn’t expand as they freeze. Therefore, you don’t have to leave a significant amount of space in your container.
Wrapping Up The Pine Tasting Mangos
If you’re avoiding mangos because they taste like pine, you’re missing out on a delicious treat. Chances are you ate one that wasn’t fully ripe. That hard, piney mistake could cause anyone to give up mangos altogether. Even so, I urge you to give them another try.
Let them ripen thoroughly first. With few varietal exceptions, ripe mangos’ skins should have very little green left, and all mangos should give a little when squeezed. Once a mango has ripened, the pine taste should be gone, leaving you with a sweet, fruity ball of deliciousness.
Also, somebody told me eating mango can make you gain weight. I just had to write a blog post on that which you can read by clicking here, Will Mango Make You Fat? Mango Myths & Facts Revealed.
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- ResearchGate: The composition of terpenes in needles of Pinus sylvestnis in a relatively clear and in a city environment[↩]
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Chemical Composition of Mango (Mangifera indica L.) Fruit: Nutritional and Phytochemical Compounds[↩]
- Wikipedia: Terpene[↩]
- Mango.org: Mango Varieties & Availability[↩]
- USDA: Mangos[↩]
- Mango.org: Mango Maturity & Ripeness guide[↩]
- Fruits & Veggies: Mango[↩]
- Mango.org: Get To Know Your Mango[↩]