Practice of ripening of mangoes artificially by chemicals like calcium carbide is relatively a new practice. Every year, using calcium carbide to ripen mangoes is resorted to for mangoes harvested earlier in the season. A market study says, about 60 per cent of the mangoes harvested early in the season are treated with calcium carbide and the use of chemical declines as the season progresses.
This process that gives mangoes a misleading ripe and healthy look, is extremely hazardous because it contains traces of arsenic and phosphorus. Consumption of such artificially ripened mangoes can cause mouth ulcers, gastric problems, diarrhoea and skin rashes. As per Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, this is a punishable offense.
Here are few tips for mango lovers for this season:
Artificially ripened mangoes, unlike the naturally ripened ones, will not have good aroma.
Artificially ripened mangoes will have yellow outer skin, but the tissues/flesh will not be ripe.
They will be dry and less juicy compared to a naturally ripened ones, which would have sucked enough water from tree.
Fruits that have a uniform colour are more likely to have been artificially ripened.
Wash the fruits thoroughly before consuming. Keep them under running water for few minutes, so the chemicals are washes away.
Do not buy fruits sold during off seasons, as they are more likely to be artificially ripened.
While eating mangoes, always remove the peel before cutting the fruit into pieces.
Lovely ripe mangos fill the air with their intoxicatingly sweet fragrance that is sure to tempt passersby to buy them.
So how do we know?
First and foremost, one must inspect the fruit before buying it. Check the area of the stalk. My regular mango vendor has told me that fruit where this portion (around the stalk) is raised has been plucked early from the tree. That prevents it from developing its full flavour on the tree which is a must.
In additon also check the curve of the fruit. The curve must be gentle and not a deep depression. The image I have added here will better explain what I have just said.
Check the skin for any obvious marks that suggest application of any powders etc. Mango’s ripened with carbide have a uniform yellow colour. Such fruit are not ripe on the inside and is not sweet. Here is a hint that describes how to detect a carbide-ripened mango. Hold a lit match stick near the mango surface. If it gives out sparks or catches fire then its quite likely to have been ripened using calcium carbide.
Best varieties are Alphonso but many other varieties each come with a unique flavour. Try them and continue to enjoy the fruit at its natural peak season.
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