Food and Nutrition

I’m a Chef, and This Is How To Pick a Perfectly Ripe Avocado Depending on When You’ll Use It

Allie Flinn

I love avocados, but I have no problem admitting they can be almost as annoying as a guy you just matched with on Bumble who wants to come over and “cuddle.” It’s well-documented that avocados, while delicious, go bad the second you take your eyes off of them. It feels like there’s practically a 15-second window between the avocado being not-ripe and it completely decaying.

But popping into the grocery store to pick up an avocado on a whim isn’t really a thing anymore, and many of us are limiting how many trips we make to the grocery store. What if you go to the store on Sunday, but you aren’t planning to use it until Tuesday? Or Friday? What is the correct protocol? Choosing your avocados based on when you plan to actually eat them is basically an art form. I asked Anne Thornton, executive chef of NeueHouse, to share her tips on how to choose avocados.

If You Want To Eat the Avocado Today:

“Avocados that are ripe and ready to eat that day have darker green skin; sometimes the skin looks almost black,” Thornton says. “When you hold them in your hand, you can press gently with your thumb, and if it makes a slight indent in the soft yet firm—not mushy—flesh, you know it’s ready to eat!”

If You Want To Eat the Avocado Tomorrow or the Day After:

Choose an avocado that’s a little bit firmer than a ripe avocado, with dark green skin, and when you get it home keep it out on the counter so that it will be fully ripe the next day, Thornton says. You can also buy a ripe avocado, but you want to put it in your fridge as soon as you get home so that it doesn’t get mushy.

Why are avocados so great again? Here’s an RD with all the nutritional scoop:

If You Planning To Eat the Avocado Later in the Week:

It’s better to err on the side of caution and choose an avocado that is firm and greenish in color, because you can always help the avocado ripen but you can’t un-ripen it. Thornton says to put your firm (you can even go super firm) avocados in a paper bag, and store in the back of your pantry, cupboard, or drawer. “When you place the fruit in the paper bag you trap the ethylene, a plant hormone the avocado releases that triggers ripening, so it encourages the avocados to ripen faster,” Thornton says. You’re “hatching” the avocados, she says, and that may be the cutest thing I’ve heard all week. You can also add some flour to the bottom of the paper bag, which can also help quicken ripening and soaks up excess moisture—a hack the W+G team swears by.

Also, a note: the smaller the avo, the quicker they ripen. “But who wants a small avocado, especially if you are paying for them—those little buggers are expensive,” Thornton says.

If you are getting groceries delivered and don’t plan on using them that day, Thornton says to ask your shopper to pick avocados that are slightly firm and then you can “hatch” them.

If You Have Ripe Avocados That You’re Not Ready To Use Yet:

Sometimes you go ham and buy three or four avocados at once…that all ripen at the same time without you being able to properly use them. Or maybe you somehow forgot about a particularly rock-hard fruit that is now perfectly ripe. Don’t just let those spare avocados languish on your kitchen counter—learn how to store them to preserve their ripeness.

“I’m all about eliminating food waste, and know that people forget to use their avocados so they over- ripen and throw them out, similar to bananas. What a waste of money and all the natural resources that went into growing and transporting that avocado,” Thornton says. Before it gets to that “point of no return,” Thornton says to peel it, remove the pit, and put the meat into a reusable container or freezer bag and freeze it. “Avocado meat freezes and defrosts really nicely. The fat content keeps it from getting easily freezer burned. I also love using frozen avocado in smoothies,” she says. In other words: all these tips mean you’ll never suffer from avocado disappointment again. (Alas, no such promises can be made for my Bumble swiping.)

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