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Here's How to Tell If an Avocado Is Perfectly Ripe

Hint: It's all about that perfect green-brown shade.
Picking an avocado about to check the inside of the stem

If you like to eat avocados, then you know they are one of the most universal ingredients in the kitchen. Not only are avocados perfect for a wide range of recipes at any time of the day, but eating the vibrant, green fruit also does so many beneficial things to your body upon consumption. That said, it's extremely ideal to incorporate the single-seeded berry native to Mexico into your diet. So how exactly do you tell if an avocado is at its peak ripeness, ready for you to eat?

We get it—they can be a little pricey in grocery stores, and sometimes it's hard to tell if they are ripe upon purchase or even days after they land in your at-home fruit bowl, so we understand your frustrations that come with buying avocados. That's why we checked in with Claudia Sidoti, Principal Chef at HelloFresh, to provide us some tips and tricks for determining if an avocado is perfectly ripe and ready to eat whether you're shopping or already in the kitchen.

Here's your dependable guide to deciding whether or not an avocado is ripe and ready-to-eat.

How can you tell if an avocado is ripe in the grocery store?

According to Sidoti, there are two in-store methods to detect a perfectly ripe avocado (because sometimes we just don't have a few days to wait to make guacamole).

"Check the outside skin and if one is darker than others, it's likely riper than those with lighter skin," she says. "Or place the avocado in the palm of your hand, squeeze it without your fingertips, and if it's slightly soft but not mushy, it's ready-to-eat."

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What is the best way to check if your avocado is ripe at home?

Sometimes cutting into an avocado at home can be risky. If it's not ripe enough, you've wasted the couple-dollar gem. If it's too ripe (you'll be able to tell by the brown color all over it), you are forced to toss it. But wouldn't it be ideal if you could cut into a glowing green avocado every single time?

Fortunately, Sidoti has recommended some foolproof at-home methods in an effort to achieve that goal. First, she says to feel for ripeness.

"If firm, it's not ripe, so wait another four or five days," she says. "Firm is great when you plan to use them a few days later."

You can also see a ripe avocado by looking at the color.

"If it's ripe and ready to eat, it'll yield firm but gentle pressure and have a darker color skin," Sidoti says, while noting that feeling is overall a better method for detecting ripeness than color.

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The stem trick is one more method for determining if an avocado is ripe. Simply peel back the small stem cap on the top of the fruit. If the stem comes off easily and you see green, it's good to eat. If the stem is fussy and won't come off, it's likely not ripe. And if you pull it off and you see brown, that probably means it's overripe, and you will, unfortunately, open up the avocado to see more brown than green.

If you've already cut into an avocado and are still not sure if it's ripe, there's a way to tell.

"If cut, you'll know it's unripe if the seed is difficult to remove and the inside is mostly firm," she says. "They will take another day or two to ripen."

How can you store avocados both cut and uncut?

When you purchase whole avocados, they will do just fine on the kitchen counter or in a decorative fruit bowl. However, if you detect a ripe avocado by feeling it, Sidoti recommends storing the entire piece of fruit in the fridge if you plan to eat it in the next day or two so it doesn't over-ripen.

The process is a bit different for cut avocados, and because we're only up for eating half sometimes, these storing techniques will give the other half another day of life and are important to consider.

"Already sliced avocados will naturally start to oxidize if left unattended," she says, referring to that brown coloring they develop after being cut. "Add an acidic aid like lemon juice, lime juice, or vinegar, and limit exposure to the air. Tightly cover with plastic wrap or place in an airtight container." An extra little tip?

"Leave the pit or seed to help it last longer," she says.

What are some everyday uses for ripe avocados in the kitchen?

Once you finally identify the perfectly ripe avocado, it's time to enjoy the delicious fruit! Fortunately, avocados are the perfect substitute in many recipes and can be eaten at any time of day with foods like eggs, tortilla chips, meat, bread, and more.

"You can use avocados instead of common spreads or dips, in baking to add richness and smooth texture, you can also blend it with natural fats in smoothies, slice up in a salad, or top it on any protein for dinner," Sidoti says.

Now get shopping for your (perfectly ripe) avocados, and when you get frustrated by deciding if they're ready to eat, just be patient and remember how good they are for you!

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Samantha Faragalli Younghans
Samantha Faragalli Younghans is a freelance food, health, and lifestyle writer. Read more
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