There are plenty of recipes that call for a particularly ripe mango, but sometimes it is necessary to ripen a mango more quickly. Occasionally, your grocery store will receive a shipment of mangos and display them even though they are still too green to eat or to use in cooking. If you need to hasten the time in which a mango ripens, tweak the way you store it. For an immediate "ripening" effect, use your microwave to speed up the process, but be aware that the texture will likely be soft and lack the normal sweetness that a naturally ripe fruit will have.
How to Ripen a Mango
The best way to ripen a mango requires some time – more specifically a few days. To speed up the process of natural ripening, place the mango inside of a brown paper bag along with another piece of fruit, such as a pear or an apple. Placing the fruit in a paper bag traps the natural gases that the fruit releases, which causes it to ripen. This means that adding an extra piece of fruit or two lessens the number of days the mango will need to ripen. When ripening a mango in a bag with other fruit, check it daily. Depending on the level of ripeness you're starting out with, this method could take as little as one day or as much as four or five days.
How to Soften a Mango in the Microwave
It is really not possible to create a ripe mango with a microwave, but you can soften it. The fruit will not have the same flavor or sweetness, but it will at least be edible if you have already cut into the mango to eat it. For the best results, peel and cut the mango as you normally would. Toss the mango pieces into a bowl, sprinkle with half to one tablespoon of sugar and add one-third to half of a tablespoon of lemon juice. This helps liven up the flavor of the fruit as it softens in the microwave. Begin with one minute, test the softness of the fruit, then add another minute if necessary.
Using Unripe Mangoes
The best way to use mangos that are under-ripe is to cook them in a recipe. Whether you bake them into a cake or galette, or poach them to serve over ice cream, cooking the fruit in a simple syrup over low heat preserves the most flavor and texture. Mangoes can also be stewed for several hours in a slow cooker until they are tender and juicy. If using a slow cooker, add enough liquid, like pineapple or apple juice to keep the fruit moist.
Adding flavors to the mangoes as they simmer boosts the vibrancy of the flavors since under-ripe mango fruits lacks a strong, distinct flavor. Lemon or orange zest and juice pair well. A dash of various extracts also helps to add flavor to the fruit; try vanilla or cherry extract.
Avoid using too much extract as the alcohol can result in bitter notes, or the flavor of the extract can overpower the entire dish.