Avocados are a delicious and nutritious fruit that are enjoyed around the world. Knowing how to pick a perfectly ripe avocado ensures you’ll get the best flavor and texture when you eat it. Follow these simple tips to test an avocado for ripeness.
2 Types of Avocados
The two main varieties of avocados are Hass and Florida avocados. Hass avocados are smaller, darker, and richer tasting. Florida avocados are much larger and have a milder, nuttier taste.
Both should be allowed to ripen fully for best flavor, texture, and results in recipes. Ripe Hass and Florida avocados can be used interchangeably in guacamole, smoothies, sandwiches, salads and more. Choose based on preference and follow the same tips to test for ripeness.
Look for Avocado’s Color Change
The first way to tell if an avocado is ripe is by checking the color. An unripe avocado will be bright green in color. As it starts to ripen, it will gradually turn darker. A ripe avocado will be dark green, brownish-green, or even black in color.
The part of the avocado closest to the stem often stays green even when the rest of the fruit has changed color. Don’t judge ripeness solely by this section. Instead, look at the color change happening over the entire surface of the avocado. When most of the fruit has turned from green to a darker shade, it’s a good indication that it’s ripe and ready to eat.
Feel for Softness of Your Avocado
Gently squeezing the avocado is another way to determine ripeness. A firm, unripe avocado will feel very hard when squeezed. As it ripens, the flesh will start to soften and will dent when pressed gently.
A ripe avocado will have a little give when squeezed and will feel slightly soft or pliable, but not mushy. Avoid avocados with very soft or mushy spots, as this can be a sign of overripeness. The perfect time to eat an avocado is when there is gentle softness throughout.
Check the Avocado Stem
Take a look at the stem end of the avocado as another ripeness indicator. On unripe avocados, the stem will be very firmly attached. As the fruit ripens, the stem will loosen and come off easily with a gentle pull.
Try pulling the stem gently. If it comes off smoothly with very little effort, it’s a sign that the avocado is ripe. If the stem doesn’t budge or you have to use lots of force, the avocado needs more time to ripen.
Do a Test Cut
If you need further confirmation before cutting into an avocado, do a quick test slice first. Carefully slice into the narrow top part of the avocado, penetrating just enough to reveal the flesh inside. Don’t cut all the way through.
Look at the color and texture of the inner flesh. If it’s green or too firm, it needs more time. If it’s a creamy yellow-green and yields slightly, the avocado is ripe and ready to use. This test cut prevents accidentally cutting into an unripe avocado.
Consider Days from Avocado Purchase
The number of days since you purchased an avocado can help estimate when it will be ripe. On average, avocados purchased while still unripe will take 3 to 5 days to ripen.
Track how long you’ve had the avocado at home. Combine this with the other tests of color, softness, stem, and cut test to determine if enough time has passed for optimal ripeness. Ripe avocados will need to be eaten immediately, while unripe ones can be left at room temperature a bit longer.
Ripen Avocado Faster in a Paper Bag
You can speed up the ripening process for avocados by placing them in a brown paper bag. The paper bag traps the ethylene gas that fruit gives off as it ripens. This concentration of ethylene aids ripening.
To ripen avocados faster, you can place them in a bag folded over at the top and store at room temperature for 2-4 days. Check daily and remove any that feel soft, as they will be ready to eat. Storing avocados in a paper bag helps accelerate ripening if you need them sooner.
Refrigerate Ripe Avocados
Once avocados are ripe, put them in the refrigerator. While cold storage won’t reverse ripeness, it will significantly slow down the ripening process. This gives you more time to enjoy ripe avocados before they spoil.Or place ripe avocados in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator. They will keep for up to two weeks stored this way.
While refrigerating ripe avocados slows down spoilage, refrigerating unripe avocados can ruin them. You can just put hard, unripe avocados at room temperature until they have reached the desired ripeness. Refrigerating unripe avocados too soon can lead to brown or mushy spots inside and prevent a creamy, smooth flesh when they eventually ripen.
Use Ripe Avocados Right Away
Some signs that an avocado has become overripe include brown or black spots inside the flesh, very mushy or watery consistency, or avocado flesh that has pulled away from the skin. These avocados may still be usable for smoothies or baking, but are past peak ripeness for salads and slicing.
For the best experience, use ripe avocados as soon as possible. Store cut avocado in an airtight container in the fridge and aim to eat within a day or two for optimal freshness. Ripe avocados have lush, buttery flavor and silky rich texture.
Knowing when an avocado is perfectly ripe results in a delicious experience. Use these simple tricks to pick the best avocados. Checking color, softness, stem, days from purchase, cut test, and storage methods will help you enjoy avocados at their peak.