How To Tell If An Avocado Is Ripe

Have you ever went to the grocery store or farmer’s market, looked at the avocados, gently squeezed them, acted like you knew what you were doing, and then realized you had NO IDEA if it was ripe or not?  Or better yet, gone home with unripe avocados, cut them, and tried to eat them?  Yuck!

Here’s how to tell if an avocado is ripe…

If you know a thing or two about avocados, then you’d know that a firm avocado means that it is not ripe yet, but how much “softness” does an avocado need to have to consider it ripe? And how much is considered TOO much?

When purchasing an avocado, you must first ask yourself, “When will I be eating this?”

If you plan to eat the avocado today or tomorrow, then look for an already ripe avocado.  If you plan to use it in 2-5 days, then look for an unripe (firm) avocado.  Don’t worry, I’ll share some tips and tricks to speed up the ripening process just in case you want it early!

There are THREE ways to determine ripeness: firmness, color, and the stem.  

My favorites are firmness and the stem, as color is not always reliable since different varieties of avocados retain their light color even when ripe.

Firmness

A firm avocado is NOT ripe.  Let’s repeat, a firm avocado is NOT ripe.  Do not attempt to eat this, you WILL be disappointed.  To determine if the avocado if ripe, gently squeeze the avocado.  If it is firm, yet gives A LITTLE then it is ripe.  If the avocado is mushy, it has over ripened.  An over ripe avocado may be good for guacamole or sauces that require a mushy avocado, but be careful that it has not spoiled.  You will know an avocado has spoiled when the exterior is dark brown and mushy, and interior has black spots in it.  Gross!  Checking the stem will help you determine this (see below).

Color

Typically an avocado will darken as it ripens, however some varieties will remain light to medium green even when ripe.  Be aware of this when shopping and check for firmness and the stem to determine if the avocado is ready to eat.  Most avocados will turn a dark green (practically brown/black) to indicate that they are ready to eat.

Stem

A quick (and reliable) method to tell if an avocado is ripe is to check the stem.  When you pull back on the stem, is it tough to move?  The avocado is not ripe yet.  When you pull back on the stem is it moderately easy to move with a hint of green underneath?  The avocado is ripe.  When you pull back on the stem does it easily fall off or show brown underneath?  The avocado is over ripe.

Ripe…how to tell if an avocado is ripe

Over Ripe…

how to tell if an avocado is ripe

How To Speed Up The Ripening Process

  • Place the avocado in a brown paper bag and store at room temperature.  The avocado will release ethylene gas and ripen within 2-5 days.
  • Add an apple or banana to the brown bag to speed up the ripening process.  This will release even more ethylene gas and ripen within 1-3 days.

How To Store Whole Avocados

  • Store unripe avocados at room temperature.  Unripe avocados will NOT ripen in the refrigerator.
  • Store ripe avocados at either room temperature or in the refrigerator.  Ripe avocados will last approximately 5 days in the refrigerator

How To Store Sliced Avocados or Guacamole

  • Sliced avocados (like apples) will begin to turn brown.  To avoid the avocados from turning brown, you can drizzle lemon juice on the flesh or tightly wrap in cling wrap (my preferred method).

avocado

Ready to get cooking?  Find out how to cut an avocado here!

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