Scientists identify way to sniff ripeness of fruit

For the first time, scientists have identified a way to ‘sniff’ the ripeness of mangoes.

They have identified the unique chemical signature of ripening for mangoes and published their research in the academic journal Metabolomics.

Lead researcher Professor Paul Monks of the Department of Chemistry said: “Mangoes are one of the most important and popular tropical fruits with India producing approximately 40% of the world’s supply. The UK imports in excess of 60,000 tonnes of mangoes into the UK and the market is worth more than £70 million.

“It is really important for people to be able to tell how ripe fruit is without having to taste it. This important for fruit producers and supermarkets. We used a novel fast-sensitive “electronic-nose” for sniffing volatiles compounds from the ripening fruit. Popular supermarket species of mango were used. In particular, the work showed an increase in ester compounds -  the smell of pear drops -  was a particular marker of over ripe fruit.”

Professor Monks said the work has, for the first time, followed in real-time and detail the chemical signatures of ripening for mangoes.

Professor Monks worked with his Leicester-based colleagues Dr Iain White and Dr Robert Blake.  He collaborated with Professor Andy Taylor of the local SME Flavometrix.


Five facts about mangoes

  1. The mango is the national fruit of India, Pakistan and the Philippines
  2. Mangoes were first grown in India over 5000 years ago
  3. The paisley pattern, which originated in India, was inspired by mangoes
  4. Mangoes are a symbol of love and friendship in India. Receiving a basket of mangoes is considered a great gesture of friendship.
  5. Mangoes also feature in the Kama Sutra and are reputed to have an aphrodisiac effect