Fresh avocados do not ripen on the tree, they ripen or “soften” after they have been harvested. Fresh avocados are unique from some of the other varieties of avocados because they can change from a dark-green color to a deep purplish almost black hue when ripe. Although skin color can help in the initial visual selection of fresh avocados it is not always the best indicator for ripeness. Ripeness is ultimately determined by consistency. Color can sometimes be misleading as avocado “softening” can occur at a varying rate, independent of the color.
What are the key indicators of ripeness?COLOR + FEEL
Here’s how to pick the best fresh avocados
Step 1 – When comparing a group of fresh avocados, check the outside color of the skin of the avocados for any that are darker in color than the others. These may be riper than fresh avocados with lighter skin. Check the outer skin of the avocado for any large indentations as this may be a sign that the fruit has been bruised.
Note: Avocado color does not always indicate ripeness. Ripe avocados will yield to firm gentle pressure in the palm of your hand.
Step 2 – Place the avocado in the palm of your hand.
Step 3 – Gently squeeze without applying your fingertips as this can cause bruising and check the firmness of the avocado. See tips below for checking ripeness using “feel”.
Firm Not Ripe
DAYS TO RIPE: 4-5
If the avocado does not yield to gentle pressure it is considered still “firm” and will be ripe in a few days. Firm, unripe fresh avocados will have a bright green color. Firm avocados are perfect for purchasing a few days (approx. 4 to 5 days) before you plan on serving them to ensure that they will be perfectly ripe and ready to eat for your event. Store these avocados at room temperature (65-75 degrees F). Place in a brown paper bag with an apple or banana if you want to speed up the ripening process.
Breaking Almost Ripe
DAYS TO RIPE: 1-2
Fresh avocados that are referred to as “breaking” or almost ripe can vary in color so it is best to go by feel as well as color. Breaking avocados will have a softer feel but will not quite yield to firm gentle pressure. If cut, the seed will often be difficult to remove and the inside flesh will be firm and difficult to mash. Breaking avocados should take a day or two at room temperature (65-75 degrees F) to ripen.
Ripe Ready to Eat
DAYS TO RIPE: 0
If the avocado yields to firm gentle pressure you know it’s ripe and ready-to-eat. Ripe, ready to eat avocados may have a darker color but color can vary so it is best to go by feel as well as color. It will feel lightly soft but it will not feel “mushy” to the touch. Ripe fruit is perfect for that day. Store in the refrigerator if you plan to eat it in a day or two to prevent the fruit from becoming overripe or spoiled.
Knife, meet avocado
Once home, it was time for me to prep my highly anticipated culinary masterpiece. I reached for my knife and carefully sliced into avocado #1.
I couldn’t believe what I saw. Shock and dismay riddled my face as brown streaks and slimy greenish-brown mush stared up at me. Ugh. “No worries,” I thought to myself – “I still have another avocado.” The next cut proved to be more of the same. The second avocado was also mush!
The delicious snack I had craved all day was ruined. I had to abort my master plan. These avocados were killjoys and brought overripeness and disappointment into my life.
A perfectly ripe avocado, © Jennifer Regan, BambooCore Fitness
This is how to tell if an avocado is ripe
These four methods help you determine if an avocado is ripe:
- Skin color method
- Skin texture method
- Firmness method
- Stem method
I will now break each method down for you.
1. Skin color
An avocado with a darker skin is usually riper than one with a lighter skin.
- Visually scan the avocados in front of you.
- The avocados with darker green-to-black skin colors may be riper than those with with lighter skins.
2. Skin texture
Dimpled/dented skin texture of an avocado may be a sign that it is overripe or rotten.
- First, check the outer skin of the avocado for any large indentations or softness.
- An avocado with dented skin may be bruised and not ideal for eating. Avoid these avocados.
A ripe avocado is relatively firm, but will yield to gentle pressure when squeezed gently.
- Place the avocado in the palm of your hand.
- Gently squeeze the avocado without applying pressure from your fingertips, as this can cause bruising.
- If the avocado yields to firm, gentle pressure, it is ripe and ready to eat.
- When the avocado does not yield to gentle pressure, it is “firm” and will be ripe in a couple of days.
- If the avocado feels mushy or very soft to the touch, it may be very ripe to overripe.
A simple way to determine the ripeness of an avocado is to flick off the stem and look underneath. I recommend using this technique after you have purchased the avocado.
Popping off avocado stems in a grocery store just to find one or two pieces of fruit is a douchey move – it is wasteful and inconsiderate to other shoppers and market owners. It also compromises the ripening process of the avocado. Only flick stems in the comfort of your own home. ;-)
If you decide to use the stem method, here’s how:
- Find the small brown stem on the top of the avocado.
- Pull on the stem.
- If the stem does not pull off, the avocado is not ready/underripe.
- When the stem comes off easily, look at the color underneath. If the color underneath the stem is brown, the avocado is overripe and its flesh will most likely be brown, bruised, rotten, and/or mushy. Avoid this.
- If the color underneath is a bright, yellow-green color, it is ripe and ready to be eaten.
How do YOU tell if an avocado is ripe?
Talk to me! I have shared my go-to techniques in choosing the perfect avocado – now it’s your turn.
- What method(s) do you use to select a ready-to-eat avocado?
- What is your favorite way to eat an avocado?
Do you know how to know an avocado is ripe? This is very important if you’re trying to eat more of this nutritious food. Whether you’re trying to slim down or simply wanting to lead a healthy lifestyle, eating avocados will do a lot of wonders for your body.
What makes avocados different from most fruits is that their fruit won’t ripen on the tree. The fruit only becomes ripe after it is picked. This makes it quite tricky to identify a ripe avocado.
But don’t you worry as I have listed down several tips to keep in mind so that you would know if an avocado is ripe or not:
Most avocado varieties will have a dark outer peel, but there are subtle differences in the skin color.
For example, Hass avocado, which is one of the more common varieties, has a deep green to purple color when it is ripe. You don’t want to get a Hass avocado that is colored black because it will likely be overripe.
The same goes for green Hass avocado, because it will surely be unripe.
If you are to buy Gwen avocado, check that the skin is dull green. If it does, then the avocado is ripe.
Ripe bacon and Fuerte avocados have smooth green skin. Gwen avocados, on the other hand, have a dull, pebbly green skin.
Pinkerton avocados are like Hass avocados as its color becomes dark green when it ripens. The same goes for Pinkerton avocado—a ripe one is usually deep green.
Finally, Zutano avocados are yellow-green in color when they are ripe.
You should also avoid buying avocados with dark blemishes as these are likely to be overripe.
Aside from checking the color of the skin, you can tell if the fruit is ripe or not by checking the firmness of the avocado.
Start by placing the fruit in the palm of your hand. Don’t grab it with your fingertips. Then gently squeeze it, with the base of the fingers and your palm applying even pressure to the avocado.
You would know that the avocado is ripe when it yields to firm pressure. Its skin must give in slightly to the pressure, but it must not remain indented.
In case the avocado you get feels too firm, then the fruit is not yet ripe. If it feels mushy, then it is overripe.
You can also try to put gentle pressure in several places.
The stem of the avocado will also give you an idea of the ripeness of the fruit. You can simply flick off the stem. If the stem did not come off easily, then the fruit is not yet ripe. But if you were able to remove the stem quickly, the fruit is ripe enough.
After flicking off the stem, you can also check the color beneath the stem. If you see brown underneath, I can tell you that the fruit is too ripe. You want the color beneath the stem to be greenish yellow, because this means that the avocado is ripe.
As in most things in life, practice makes perfect. It might take you a while before you master the skill of picking a ripe avocado.
Here’s one suggestion I can give you- purchase an unripe avocado, and then check it every day as it softens. The fruit should be ripe in 2-3 day. You will eventually learn what to look for in a ripe avocado by doing this trick.
But let’s say you can’t wait to put the avocado flesh in a blender to make a smoothie. Or you want to mix the fruit with milk, so you need it to become ripe soon. What would you do?
Here are some tips to solve this dilemma:
- Place the avocado in a bag with ripe fruits like bananas or apples. Why? Ripe fruits emit a gas called ethylene. This will help in stimulating the ripening process.
- You can also place the fruit in a spot where sunlight can get in. It would take around 3-4 days for the avocado to get ripe if you try this trick.
Now what if you bought a ripe avocado but you’re not yet ready to serve or eat it? That would not be much of a problem, either. I simply put it in the refrigerator, where it can remain in its stage of ripeness for a week.
They say that picking a ripe avocado is a hit-and-miss thing. I disagree with that. As you have learned, there are several things that you can look into when you are buying avocados.
And once you have learned how to pick a ripe avocado, you’ll have a skill for life that you can pass on to your family members and friends.