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Flavorless mangos ... anyone know why?

When I first had mangos in the 70s they struck me as tasting strongly like turpentine might if you could get around the "poison" issue. By about 1990 they were pretty flavorless, resembling a peach more than paint thinner. Today I had one that mainly resembled water.

Is my memory faulty? Have my senses dulled? Or are mangos really much milder than they were 30 years ago? Does anyone know why? Were they bred that way to "satisfy the American palate"? Are they imported from a different region with different soil? Can anyone tell me where to get an old fashioned, turpentine-y mango?

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  1. Mangoes are one of my favorite fruits. And you're right, there is a bit of a "peachy" flavor to them when they are fully ripe. What I'm not sure about is why yu want a mango that tastes like turpentine. Can you explain?

    1 Reply
    1. re: chicgail

      Sure. I don't like bland, sweet food.

    2. I don't think they are supposed to taste like turpentine if they are at the correct stage of ripeness. Ripeness has a lot to do with it and I am very hit or miss picking ripe ones.

      A friend of mine told me that an Indian grocer is a great place to find really good mangoes.

      1 Reply
      1. re: jzerocsk

        I agree-- Indian and Latino nieghborhood markets tend to have better ones.

      2. There are different types of mangoes. As recommended, try asian stores and you might find the yellower ones that are more custardy and sweet. There are larger, stringier ones that aren't as sweet. I don't know about turpentine tasting, though, and probably wouldn't be looking for one that was.

        1. Mangos have a season. The beautiful, creamy yellow/orange Alphonso, King of Fruits will start showing up soon in the spring. If you have South Asian markets in your area look also for the Dasheri and Langada varieties, they are very aromatic and have paper thin skins. Excellent mangos come the Philippines, Mexico, The Caribbean and South America. Unfortunately, we North Americans must have seasonal fruit year round, like tomatoes and strawberries in January. As a result, fully 80% of all mangos grown in the world are the Tommy Atkins variety. It has a tough skin, is resistant to disease, it's famous for its fibrous, tasteless flesh and is doing for the mango what McD's did to the hamburger.
          Da Cook

          1. The turpentine taste may have come from a very overripe mango. Also, a quick Google search revealed that there is actually a type of mango called Turpentine, so maybe that's what you remember eating?

            3 Replies
            1. re: anonymoose


              My search pulled up that Mango trees are a member of the Evergreen family which includes the Pine tree. To me that kind of explains the turpentine scent/flavor.


              1. re: RShea78

                Mango trees are a tropical evergreen, they belong to the genus Mangifera which consists of about 35 species of tropical fruiting trees in the flowering plant family Anacardiaceae. Mangoes are NOT related to pine trees they just share some characteristics. In botany, an evergreen plant is a plant that retains its leaves all year round, with each leaf persisting for more than 12 months. This contrasts with deciduous plants, which completely lose all their foliage for part of the year, becoming bare and leafless. (thanks Wikipedia!)
                Another difference is that Mangos are much tastier than pine cones.
                Da Cook

                1. re: Da_Cook

                  FWIW, Mangoes are related to poison ivy, cashews and pistachios.

            2. Sadly, in the US we are only just starting to get a handful of some of the hundreds of types of mangoes that are grown worldwide. There are over 500 different varieties/cultivars of mangoes grown worldwide out of over 1,000 cultivars available. Around 50 types provide the bulk of what is grown comemrcially, it's finding them in the US that's the hard part.

              Try some of the small "champagne" / Ataulfo mangoes that are small and all yellow / gold colored. they have just started to be imported into the US from Mexico in the past two years. Very tasty with an interesting flavor and low fibers. They are sweet with a hint of tartness to them..

              In Asia, especially SE Asia like Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, etc. I have seen markets with stalls specializing in mangoes. Literally a hundred different types in all colors and sizes and with an incredible array of different flavors.

              1 Reply
              1. re: JMF

                I have problems with the Ataulfos having either brown centers or fibrous lumps or both. Any idea what causes this?

              2. Thanks for the replies, all. I'll be looking out for non-Atkins mangos.

                1. I use to work in a cold storage with all kinds of fruit and most of them were harvested when
                  they were half ripe and did`nt contain all the sugar that a home grown fruit would have.
                  this might be the reason the taste isn`t there.

                  1. I never thought I liked mangoes because they were kind of bland to me. Then last summer, some friends of mine helped out at a local food bank. There was a case of mangoes that no one would take so they gave me about 10 of them. They had had a chance to really ripen a lot over the ones I had bought and tried to eat same day. Those were the best mangoes! Now, I buy them and don't plan to eat them for about a week. It may not be as good as tree ripened but they sure taste a lot better after I let them sit out on the counter for several days. I've learned to do the same thing with kiwi, tomatoes, and avocados.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: alliedawn_98

                      Its frustrating for me. I have had home grown mangos that taste unbelievable sweet, sumptuous, with peachy-pinapple-banana undertones to the fruit.

                      Sometimes I can find halfway decent ones at the markets here, but often I end up with something very bland and tasteless. This is true of many fruits and vegetables that I buy.

                      I think the problem comes in that the produce is picked before its truly ripe, and then "ripened" in the truck or at the store, sometimes with ethylene gas. But the off-the-tree or fake ripening process can't duplicate what happens on the tree.

                      1. re: Mellicita

                        I second the champagne mango suggestions. I find them to have a much better, juicier flavor than the big greenish red mangoes. Yes, they do have brownish spots sometimes, because they are not domesticated like the bigger mangoes. You should pick carefully for ones that are not bruised.

                        I think it's a basic issue that most parts of the country are not mango-growing climates, and have to rely on mangoes shipped in. If you can get a locally grown mango, that will solve your problem.

                        1. re: brendastarlet

                          Oh I agree that tree ripened would be sooo much better! When I lived in Georgia, a cousin from Florida gave some he picked off his tree to my grandmother and she shared them with my sister and me. They were so good. It was years and years before I had anything even close to those. Living in Indiana, I can't get tree ripened mangoes so have to do the best I can with what comes from the store. They are a lot better if I wait a few days to eat them.

                          1. re: brendastarlet

                            The Ataulfo (champagne) mangos I get are by the box and there is no evident bruising. More than the brown centers, I'm concerned about the fibrous lumps that I find in some of them. No one seems to know the cause.

                      2. funny cuz I am awaiting the good Alphonsos (there were some pre-season inferior Alphonsoes at the store, but I am holding off for a few more days or a week when the best ones arrive)...anyway, in my impatience I chose an Indian mango called "badaami." It was large and almond shaped (hence the name I guess since badaam is an almond) and I mistakenly peeled and ate it before I had allowed it to ripen some more in my house. The outside of the flesh near to the skin was sweet and nice, but the closer I got to the seed, it tasted like...turpentine...I thought of it more like an astringent medicinal taste when I had it, but reading your description of turpentine is not far off. It must be because it wasn't fully ripened, but somewhere between ripe and unripe. Anyhow, I had bought two and I let the other one ripen and then ate it, it was quite nice. Not as nice as my beloved Alphonsoes, or the later seasoned Dussehri, langra, anwar ratols, or chaunsas (just in case u go to the Indo-Pak market looking for some good ones, those are the names to write down and hunt for). But nice and smooth and sweet.