It can be strange to find black dots on the surface of your mango if you’re used to seeing the usual red-green, orange-yellow hues on your mango’s skin.
But just what are those mysterious black dots and what are they doing ruining your mango’s complexion? If your mangoes have them, will they still be safe to eat?
What Are the Black Dots on Mango?
Black dots on mangoes can be caused by three things: lenticel damage, a disease called bacterial black spot, or fruit rotting. If the black spots have only affected the skin or a little part of the flesh that can be cut out, it is safe to eat. If the black spots have taken over most of the mango or if it is due to rotting, it is best thrown out.
What Causes Black Dots on Mangoes?
Black dots are typically unwelcome on any type of food. Depending on how much of it there is, they can be unsightly and can ruin the appetite appeal of fruits. But just what causes them in fruits, especially mangoes?
Three possibilities are explored below.
1. Lenticel Damage
Mangoes are sensitive fruits. They dislike extremely cold and extremely hot temperatures (don’t we all?). They also don’t like stress, and when they are subjected to it, they may respond by developing black dots on their skin. This is what is called “Lenticel Damage” or LD, also known as discoloration or spotting.
Lenticels, in simple terms, are pores that allow the mango to breathe. It is through these pores that oxygen and carbon dioxide pass through as the mango interacts with the environment around it. It is also where water vapor passes through in the necessary process of plant transpiration.
Some researchers think that lenticels are part of the defense system of the mango. When the mango is subjected to stress, the lenticels respond by releasing some dark-colored compounds called phenolics that form barriers of protection around the lenticels, resulting in visible black spots.
The release of other compounds within the mango in response to stress may also cause cell walls to burst and allow the phenolic to release and mix with other enzymes that may cause browning.
The exact trigger and mechanism are really unknown, as it can happen anytime from harvest to packing. Some varieties are more prone to getting it more than others, and larger and more mature fruit tend to have it more often.
Wet growing and handling conditions as well as exposing the mangoes to rubbing and brushing all increase the risk of LD. No matter the case, it is safe to say that your mango doesn’t like too much drama, or else it gets quite visibly stressed.
Bacterial Black Spots
Bacterial infection may also cause black dots to appear on your mangoes. This is what is known as Bacterial Black Spots or BBS, caused by a bacteria called Xanthomonas campestris pv. mangiferae-indicae. (try saying that out loud).
This is different from LD in that the spots are usually bigger and more irregular in shape, and they are raised from the skin of the mango, which may also be greasy around the margins. When the spots or affected black spots merge together, they can burst and ooze out sticky sap that is full of bacteria.
Bacterial black spots are spread through wind and rain, through insects and moisture, and warm temperatures contribute to their spread.
Bacterial black spot infection is considered a serious and infectious disease for mango orchards and should be controlled by growers accordingly, otherwise, they will lose a significant amount of income and productivity. Bacterial black spots may make produce unsightly and unsaleable.
Another reason why your mango may have black dots is aging. The older and riper a mango becomes, the more it can develop black dots on its skin, similar to a banana. This is what happens as it ages.
If you see black dots on your mangoes, it may be that your mangoes are already very ripe. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the mangoes are bad at this point. If you leave them be and do not eat them, the black spots will continue to multiply, and eventually, they will overtake your mango and your mango may turn black.
In this scenario, it means your mango has already gone bad. It will let you know by its smell, texture and appearance.
So Can I Still Eat A Mango That Has Black Dots on the Skin?
It is usually safe to eat mangoes that have black dots on their skin as usually these black spots only affect the surface of the mangoes and do not penetrate the flesh, especially if it is due to lenticel damage.
However, the best way to tell is still to cut open the mango. If you see no black spots or unusual discoloration on the mango, you can safely eat it. If you see some black spots, you may opt to cut those out and proceed to consume your mango as you would.
If you see lots of dark spots and discoloration, it likely means that whatever was on the surface has started to affect the inside and the mango definitely won’t be good at this point, so it may not be worth consuming anyway. Multiple dark spots on the mango flesh can indicate that it has started to rot.
Especially if your mango is mostly black in color and if it has a strange smell and mushy texture, it means that your mangoes have gone bad and should be discarded.
If you are in any way unsure, I would advise that you err on the side of caution. Eating mangoes should be a pleasant experience, and starting off your experience with multiple raised black spots merging to ooze out bacterial-filled sap is not really the most appetizing thing in the world.
How Should I Store My Mangoes?
Mangoes can be stored at room temperature if they are unripe or if you want them to ripen some more. If you want to let them ripen some more, you can place them in a brown paper bag to stimulate ripening or put them beside other fruits.
Mangoes that are put in the fridge will not ripen anymore that’s why it is important to not put them inside if you still want them to ripen.
Mangoes that have been left whole can last for 1-2 weeks in the fridge. If they have already been sliced, they will last only a few days as they have already been exposed to oxidation and thus will rot faster.
Mangoes may also be kept in the freezer. If you decide to freeze your mangoes, cut the flesh into cubes, and without the skin, spread them out on a baking tray and place them in the freezer.
Once the pieces are frozen on the sheet, you may keep them in a freezer bag or freezer-appropriate container. This way, it makes it easier to use them in your recipes, especially smoothies.
How Do I Efficiently Slice or Cube My Mango?
To cut a mango, hold the mango in a vertical position. Cut along either side of the pit to make two mango cheeks. With a small knife, make vertical cuts on each cheek, making sure to not cut through to the skin.
You may opt to scoop out your mango at this stage or if you want to make them into smaller cubes, make horizontal cuts before scooping out the flesh with a spoon.
I Heard Mangoes Are Healthy. Can I Eat Them Every day?
Mangoes have a lot of health benefits. They are rich in vitamin C, which is needed for cell growth and repair, and which is an important vitamin to boost our immunity. It contains vitamin K that helps with blood regulation and bone health. It contains tons of fiber which aid digestive health.
It contains antioxidants that help the body get rid of free radicals that contribute to aging. It supports the health of our hearts and can reduce our susceptibility to certain types of cancers.
Mangoes do pack a nutritional punch and are good to have regularly, however, in terms of having them everyday, I would advise varying your intake of fruits and vegetables as it is important for our bodies to get as many varied sources of vitamins and minerals as much as possible.
And as they say, if you have too much of a good thing, it won’t be good anymore. Mangoes are extremely delicious, but you also ought to give other delicious fruits and vegetables a chance.
Frequently Asked Questions to Black Dots on Mango
Are Black Dots on Mango Skin Safe to Eat?
Black dots on mango skin are usually safe to eat. Usually, these black spots only affect the skin of the mango and not the flesh. The best way to know is to cut open the mango.
Are Black Spots Inside Mango Safe to Eat?
Black spots inside the mango can indicate the onset of rot. One or two spots that can be cut away are okay. But if it has taken over most of the flesh, you are better off discarding the mango.
Conclusion to Black Dots on Mango
Black dots on the skin of mangoes are usually due to lenticel damage, bacterial black spots, or rotting. To check if your mangoes are still good to eat, cut open the mango and inspect the flesh.
If there are no black spots, it is safe to eat the flesh. If there are some black spots, you may opt to cut those parts away and discard them. If the mango flesh is heavily spotted and if it has other signs of spoilage, it means it has spoiled and should be thrown away.
Daniel Iseli (Head Chef)
Hi, my name is Daniel and I am passionate about cooking. I have been cooking for the past 20 years and am happy to share my best recipes and cooking-related knowledge with you.