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Jan 27, 2013 07:09 PM

Horrible box of good looking ataulfo mangoes from H mart. What gives?

Picked up a box of ataulfo (champagne) mangoes from the Burlington H mart last weekend. There were 24 in a box for $12, on the smaller side, and they were labeled as being from Peru. When I got home, I skinned and cut up 3 mangoes, 2 were pretty tasty but the third was so sour, I had to pitch it. I thought most of them might not be ripe yet, so I left them alone for a couple days. Each day I would cut one or two up and they were either perfectly colored but really tart, or brown and dried up on the inside. I cut up the last few today, and had to toss all of them out. So basically 2/24 mangoes were edible.

I was so angry! I had to take a bunch of pictures and ask chowhounders what to make of this and how to avoid buying another bad batch of mangoes in the future. They looked golden and beautiful on the outside, smelled and felt ripe, but the inside was dry and disgusting.

I read that South American mangoes are typically not as delicious as the Mexican variety. But I can't believe these mangoes are even sold in stores! Do I need to avoid buying produce at H mart in general? I'm not a frequent shopper there, but their samples are always delicious I thought I'd give it a try.

It was also strange that the two I ate first were pretty good. Do ataulfos rot from the inside or something, and how do you know when they are ripe-edible and not ripe-rotten? I included pictures of the outside and what it looked like when I cut it up. Yuck.

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  1. I cannot say for sure: I have not had these mangoes, and I did not see what you did. But what you are describing sounds to me like a perfect description of fruit that has been frozen and then been thawed. As in it sat overnight on a pallet in freezing weather when it wasn't supposed to, not like an intentional freezing.

    It could have happened anywhere in the supply chain. I've seen this frequently, and the fruit can look wonderful while being inedible.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ttochow

      frozen and thawed while in shipping or storage was my thought too.

      people are spoiled with access to fruits, especially tropical fruits, all year round.

    2. I've never had problems with fruit I buy at HMart, but I usually buy what I know is in season. I didn't think mangoes this time of year would be good, so I wonder if the poor quality is more due to this time of year (and perhaps its treatment as the other reply stated). Sorry - that is a big bummer indeed.

      2 Replies
      1. re: kobuta

        It might be related. A lot of fruits refrigerate well, and so can be supplied off-season. My recollection is that mangoes are in this group. But, all refrigerators have hotspots and coldspots, and maybe these particular mangoes simply got frozen in a coldspot. I would have personally returned them for an exchange or refund as it seems an obvious quality control problem, but I realize that personal circumstances vary.

        Reminds me of a time when a neighbor dropped off a Holiday gift at our front door that included fruit. Apples, oranges, pears, etc. We didnt know. It froze overnight, adn then baked in the sun the next day. Looked beautiful on the outside, but was brown mush inside.

        1. re: ttochow

          Thanks for the explanation. Next time I will probably pick fruit that is in season, and hand-pick them individually rather than buying bulk.

          I would like to return them but we only go to H-mart once a month when we rent a car from Cambridge to do a shopping spree. Not really worth it to rent a car for a $12 refund. Oh well, live and learn.

      2. This is exactly what I experienced when I tried to ripen a bunch that I got at Patel Bros a few years ago during the early days of Indian mango season. I figured there must have been something off with either the heat or humidity in my kitchen since everyone else seemed to be having a great time with theirs, at least later on in the season. It seemed like it tooks days and days and weeks for mine to ripen and when they did, some were sour and crappy inside.

        1. Also, I just NEVER buy mangos any time of the year other than May.

          8 Replies
          1. re: StriperGuy

            i also would have been dubious about $.50 mangoes in the dead of winter.

            1. re: hotoynoodle

              To take it a bit further... I have NEVER had a mango in the continental USA any time other than May/June that was worth eating. And I love mangoes and have thrown countless dozens away that looked good, but were inedible at other times of the year.

              Crazy though cause there has to be somewhere where mangoes are ripe somewhere in the world in say November...

              Heck, I've eaten good mangoes in the Caribbean in January.

              1. re: StriperGuy

                yeah, after having them in their native places, i just don't buy them here pretty much ever.

                think about it and all we should be eating right now are root cellar turnips, lol.

                1. re: hotoynoodle

                  Both the amazing Indian (from India) and even the Mexican mangoes are VERY good in May and June.

                2. re: StriperGuy

                  Right, that's where I'm confused. We don't grow mangoes in New England so I didn't know when mangoes are in season--I see them year round in supermarkets. If you think about our strawberry season, they don't grow anytime other than may/June. If mangoes are fruiting somewhere, I would think they are "in season" in that part of the world. It is the middle of summer in South America. Do I just need to avoid South American mangoes?

                  1. re: berber

                    mangoes from peru have traveled almost 4000 miles to get to the h-mart. :) they are not picking and shipping lovely, luscious, drippy fruits for us. they leave the farm hard as rocks. anything can happen between point a and b.

                    it's the same reason most tomatoes and strawberries in the market now are flavorless, and about pointless to buy. just because it's on the shelf doesn't mean it tastes good.

                    agree with the above about buying frozen fruits this time of year. at least in our frigid neck of the woods.

                  2. re: StriperGuy

                    "South America" as the original poster mentioned is a pretty large place, covering more than a few latitudes so you are going to get some spread of how things ripen (different growing degree days, not to mention different varieties although only a few are exported globally). You could definitely get a ripe mango in Brazil today and it would probably be pretty cheap, in part because is not ripe mangoes that you export. It could even be the best mango you have ever eaten (the experience many people feel when they go from our part of the hemisphere to buy a local ripe mango). Most of Brazil's exports come from the Northeast and happen generally in the Sept-Nov timeframe (while still fairly green) as far as I know. The Brazilian federal police inspectors at the ports were on strike at the beginning of this season, so that definitely affected exports as well as drought last winter.

                    I believe Mexico's main agricultural export market is the US (for legal and illegal exports) and South America has a strong relationship with the EU (likewise), but has been developing relationships in the Asia Pacific region. So we probably get the best from Mexico and not always from other regions, its also "closer" with a less complex logistical chain so you might get something that ripens longer.

                    Like others I prefer to gorge myself when somewhere I can buy tree ripened. For your basic Tommy Atkins mango, Mexico seems to be the most consistent import locally, but Brazilian ones seem more common these days and can be decent. I also enjoy the really inexpensive, but sometimes stringy, Haitian mangoes. I have had very mixed luck with Indian mangoes and even from Mexico, have never really enjoyed champagne. I also buy frozen mango pulp a fair bit, here the Brazilian exports (available at Brazilian butchers and markets) has a leg-up on La Fe or Goya.

                    1. re: StriperGuy

                      I have had some middlin' success ripening mangoes in a brown bag (the Haas variety, not the Ataulfo). Have to check them every day - seems they go from rock hard to rotten in no time.

                3. I'm no mango expert, but maybe they were accidentally (or deliberately) frozen?

                  I used to get really unpleasant avocados at Trader Joes (funky tasting), and after being advised by someone there that whole avocados could be frozen to preserve them I found that the funky tasting ones must surely have been previously frozen!