Eye-Appealing, Mouth-Watering Mangoes for
January 14, 2000
The perfect mango melts in your
mouth. But many arent perfect.
This tropical fruit is susceptible to injury during cold storage. When the
thermometer dips below 50 degrees F (10 degrees C), mango skin becomes pitted
and discolored, and the flesh darkens and becomes susceptible to decay.
Luckily, Agricultural Research
Service and Mexican scientists have discovered that methyl jasmonate
prevents chilling injury. This sweet-smelling compound derived from the
essential oils of plants--especially jasmine and honeysuckle--is safe and
relatively inexpensive. For $50, one could treat truckloads of fruit.
The researchers gave mangoes a whiff of methyl jasmonate for 24 hours at 68
degrees F before storing the fruit for two weeks at 41 degrees F. The treatment
prevented chilling injury and dramatically improved overall fruit quality,
compared to untreated fruit.
It didnt alter normal ripening and softening processes or increase
water loss. And it works on fruits at various stages of maturity, according to
Chien Y. Wang and J. George Buta with ARS
Quality Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland. They tested the mangoes with
Gustavo A. Gonzalez-Aguilar, a visiting plant physiologist from Hermosillo,
More than 95 percent of mangoes sold here are imported from Mexico and
Central and South America. In 1998, the U.S. population consumed 412 million
pounds--an increase of 77 percent from 1993.
The researchers also found how to preserve fresh-cut mangoes for two weeks
when stored at 50 degrees F. They treated the slices with a combination of
hexylresorcinol, isoascorbic acid and potassium sorbate--all food-safe
compounds derived from natural products. Then they stored the slices in plastic
containers to prevent drying.
Mangos could be an attractive addition to the growing market for fresh-cut
produce, but browning and drying have prevented such marketing. The new
treatment could change that.
ARS is the chief scientific agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Scientific contact: Chien Y. Wang, ARS Horticultural Crops Quality
Laboratory, Beltsville, Md., phone (301) 504-6128, fax (301) 504-5107,