Flavor Investigator: Mango

If one were to ask you to name the first “tropical” fruit that comes to mind I would bet that mangoes would likely be the answer.  Mangoes are one of the world’s most popular fruits likely a result of its creamy but fruity taste. It has a slightly pine/ evergreen taste with floral, terpeney and sweet flavours. As well, mangoes are cultivated in most frost-free tropical and sub-tropical regions with India being the largest producer.

This fruit comes in varying shapes, sizes and colours and belongs to the flowering plant genus Manhifera.  The Mangifera also belongs to the cashew family Anacardiaceae which contains family members such as pistachios, poison ivy and cashews.

Mangoes are a type of fruit known as a drupe. A drupe is a type of fruit in which a single pit is contained by an outer edible flesh.  As well, it grows at the end of a long, string-like stem. Like other fruits, a mangos appearance will alter during the maturation process as an immature fruit is green which eventually turns yellow, orange, red or purple.

Varieties of Mangoes and Their Flavours

It is believed that there is over several hundred different varieties of mangoes with over 350 of them being grown in commercial nurseries. The fruit is host to an array of volatile compounds which come in varying amounts depending on the cultivar.  The Haden mango has a sweet mango aroma with fruity, tropical, coconut, and pineapple notes.  It has become one of the most widely cultivated mangos in the world after being introduced to south Florida in 1910.

White Alfonso to some is regarded as the best type of mango in the world. It embraces tropical flavours with its sweet mango aroma and terpeny, green, and coconut notes. Praya Sowoy is considered to be a mildly sweet mango with green and subtle fruity notes. On the other hand, the cultivar Royal Special has similar tastes as it is sweet with some terpeny, fruity notes but is more defined by a raspberry note. Finally, Malindi is a mixture of flavours  such as terpeny, green, pineapple, and tropical.

Flavour Compounds Found in Mangos

The flavour of mangoes are rich and complex containing small nuances which make the fruit as vibrant as its colourful insides. One important compound which was found in the testing of the cultivars Haden, White Alfonso, Praya Sowoy, Royal Special, and Malindi was 4-hydroxy-2,5-dimethyl-3(2H)-furanone also known as furaneol. Furaneol exhibits a sweet strawberry aroma when it is dilute. Not only is it found in mangos but also in fresh pineapples. Additionally, the flavour compound 3-carene was found in large quantities within mangos. It is attributed to creating aromas with sweet, pine, cedar, woodsy and pungent notes.

Possible Flavour Combinations

  • Mango and Brie- Soft cheeses like brie become more pungent, earthy and creamy as they age. Mango naturally is a creamy type fruit which makes it a harmonious match for other creamy ingredients. A simple preparation for you to try at home is to combine the two in a quesadilla with a zesty lime dip on the side.
  • Mango and Sesame- Sesame is typically consumed in either a paste or as whole seeds. When lightly toasted a rich, nutty and somewhat creamy flavour is produced. This seed compliments mango because the slight tanginess found in the fruit blends with sesames savouriness.
  • Mango and Bacon- There is a saying that bacon is able to go with everything. Although this might not always be the case it is in this situation. Mango is sweet, tropical and overall bold. This allows it to withstand other strong flavours. Bacon is bold and due to its savoury, salty character it is able to blend with mango.


Ansari, S., Ali, M., Velasco-Negueruela, A., & Pérez-Alonso, M. (1999). Volatile Constituents of the Fruits of Three Mango Cultivars,Mangifera indicaL. Journal Of Essential Oil Research11(1), 65-68. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10412905.1999.9701073

Mango Facts. (2017). Mango.org. Retrieved 12 June 2017, from http://www.mango.org/en/About-Mangos/Mango-Facts

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Munafo, J., Didzbalis, J., Schnell, R., Schieberle, P., & Steinhaus, M. (2014). Characterization of the Major Aroma-Active Compounds in Mango (Mangifera indicaL.) Cultivars Haden, White Alfonso, Praya Sowoy, Royal Special, and Malindi by Application of a Comparative Aroma Extract Dilution Analysis. Journal Of Agricultural And Food Chemistry62(20), 4544-4551. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/jf5008743

Segnit, N. (2012). The flavor thesaurus (1st ed.). New York: Bloomsbury.


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