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How to Pick a Ripe Avocado (and More Pro Avo Tips)

April 17, 2024
Photo Credit: Marti Sans

Is there anything more satisfying than splitting open a perfectly ripe avocado? It always feels like winning the lottery when you see that sea of perfectly green flesh — especially because, as healthy and delicious as they are, avocados are not cheap.

There’s no reason to gamble on your avocados: Here are some simple ways to help you choose the best ones, plus other pro tips, so you can get the most out of these luscious green fruits.

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Health benefits of avocados

You know they’re a great source of healthy fats, specifically monounsaturated oleic acid, a heart-healthy fatty acid that’s been shown to reduce cholesterol and fight heart disease.

Here are other amazing benefits of avocados:

  • Loaded with more than 20 different vitamins and minerals, including folate, magnesium, and potassium, plus vitamins C, E, and K.
  • High in antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin, which promote eye health and protect against conditions like cataracts.
  • Great source of fiber. One avocado will give you your daily dose of this important nutrient, good for metabolism and blood sugar levels.
  • Have more protein and less sugar than most other fruits.

Types of avocado

The most readily available type is the Hass avocado. Grown in California and available all year round, it has a buttery, nutty flavor, and an oval shape.

But you may be lucky enough to encounter some other types as well; avocados come in all sorts of sizes and flavors. Here are a few you might see out in the wild (or, you know, the grocery store):

  • Mexicola Grande: Known for its smaller shape and glistening black skin, the Mexicola Grande is slightly sweet and juicy inside. It’s in season from August through October.
  • Fuerte: Fuerte, which means “strong” in Spanish, is another California favorite available for most of the year. It has a perfect pear shape with a creamy flavor similar to a hazelnut.
  • Choquette: This Floridian avocado can weigh up to two pounds and has silky flesh that releases a bit of lime-green juice when cut. It’s in season from October to January.
  • Bacon: This avocado has a lighter taste than other varieties and is identifiable by its pale yellow-green skin. It’s in season from August through October.

How to pick a ripe avocado at the store

Here’s what to look for in a ripe, ready-to-eat avocado:

  • Color: As a general rule, most avocados change from a dark green to a black/brown when ripe. Those bright green avocados are pretty, but they’re probably several days away from being edible.
  • Touch: By giving the avocado a light squeeze, you should be able to tell its ripeness. It will feel slightly soft but not “mushy” to the touch. A mushy avocado is past its prime. (Note: Be gentle; avocados can bruise easily.)

How to ripen avocados

If you bought an avocado that isn’t ripe yet, and you just can’t wait for that guac (#relatable), here’s how to speed up the ripening process: Place the avocado in a brown paper bag with another piece of fruit, like an apple or banana. This speeds up the fruit’s production of ethylene gas, which naturally promotes ripening. When sealed and stored at room temperature, this method can soften up the stiffest of avocados in about 1 to 3 days. The more fruit you add, the faster your avocados will ripen.

How to save the other half of an avocado

For the times when you only need half of an avocado, how can you keep the rest from spoiling? Here’s how to keep it for up to 2 days:

  • Remove the pit
  • Brush the flesh with fresh lemon juice
  • Wrap the avocado half in plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the flesh, and refrigerate
  • Alternately: Place the half flesh-side down in a container, cover with water, and refrigerate

More pro avocado tips

A few final things to know to get the most from your avocados:

  • If your avocado is already ripe but you aren’t planning on eating it quite yet, simply place the whole fruit in the refrigerator. This will buy you a few more days.
  • You can also freeze it. If you over-bought avocado or your plans have changed, peel and pit the avocado, cut it into chunks, and freeze on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Transfer the frozen chunks to a freezer bag. Toss the chunks into smoothies.
  • If your avocado is just beginning to brown, you can bring it back to life with a sprinkle of fresh citrus. Recipes like smoothies, dressings, or baked goods are great ways to use an over-ripened avocado.
  • Don’t throw out that pit. It’s edible and nutritious and will make your smoothies extra creamy.

Read next: 5 Quick & Clean Avocado Breakfast Ideas (Besides Avocado Toast)

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