How to Tell if You Have a Ripe Avocado

Is that avocado sitting on your kitchen counter ready for eating?  Ready for guac?  How do you choose a ripe avocado in the super market if you need one, like NOW??

This is a topic that has come up in several different conversations in my life over the past few weeks, so I decided to do a post on it.  I eat 4-5 avocados a week, so it’s something I have a bit of experience with.  Those avocados I’m holding in my hand up there- those are ripe.  These, are not:

img_8660

*dog for scale

Those are the exact same two avocados as are pictured in the featured image.  These pictures were taken exactly 4 days apart.

I have tried many methods to ripen avocados quickly.  I’ve tried the oven method (you can read about that here, if you want, but I definitely don’t recommend it.), etc. etc.  Nothing really works.  Honestly, you just need to give it the time it needs.  If you have two hard, unripe avocados and you need to make guac today, then you’re out of luck.  I find that most avocados take 4-6 days to mature.  If you throw them in the fridge around day 4, then you can extend the life for up to a week to a week and a half.  If you don’t do this, then they need to be eaten within 2-3 days of becoming ripe, or you’ve got rotten fruit on the counter.

To speed up ripening time, you can place your avocados on the counter next to other ripening fruit, such as bananas, apples, pears, whatever- I definitely find this can speed things up.  If you place it in a sunnier spot, then this also will speed up the ripening process.  But I’m talking taking maybe a day or two off- so instead of waiting 4-5 days for ripening, it may take 3.  You’re not going to speed it up to only one day.

If you only eat half an avocado and want to save the other half, another tip is to put it in a bag with a cut lemon or lime (or even squeeze the juice over the half) to keep the fruit from ripening further.  Stick it in the fridge, too, of course.  I don’t particularly like when it gets all brown/gray.  Gross.

But how do I know if it’s ripe??!

Well, first and most obviously, the color.  As you can see, the unripe avocados are a bright, vibrant green.  The ripe ones are a dark green to an almost black color.  This will be most obvious in the store when you come up to that giant pile of avocados- the super dark ones are probably rotten and you don’t really want to pick those up.  They put those ones on the top because they want those ones to sell.  People with little experience think these are ripe, but these are almost always overripe.  There are almost never “perfectly ripe” avocados at the store, or so I’ve found in my experience.

However, don’t let the color fool you.  You can have a dark avocado and it still could not be ready for eating.  Sometimes, it needs to mature for another 2-3 days.  You’ll know by the feel of it.  Gently (and I mean gently) squeeze the avocado- apply some pressure to the outside.  You’re looking for some give.  There might be some soft spots and it might give in some areas more than others.  If there is no give, no slight squishiness, then it’s not ready.  Sit it down and check it in another day or two.  Pick up one of those super dark ones at the store and give it a gentle squeeze- see what I mean?  They have a lot of give.

Still can’t tell???

Cut into it.  When you’re home, of course.  Once the knife gets through that hard outer shell, it should slice through the flesh like butter.  And I really mean that- that’s what it should feel like, if it’s ready.  Made a mistake and it’s not ready??  Throw it into a bag or container and leave it out on the counter, or stick it in the fridge.  It’ll continue to mature and you can keep checking on it.

It’s not as complicated as it sounds.  You want a dark colored avocado that gives a little when you squeeze it.  Cut into it if you aren’t sure.  But as with anything, it comes with experience.  The more you recognize when they’re ripe, the easier it will be in the future.

But I need to make guacamole today…!

Too bad.  I don’t condone the oven method.  You should’ve planned better and bought your avocados a week ago.

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