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Feb 19, 2008 05:30 AM

Help -- how to pick out a good avocado?

My last few purchases have been abysmal -- bruised or dark veins running throughout with a distinct bitterness.

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    1. We have two different varieties of avocado trees in our back yard. The link by foodyDudey is correct in that your best bet is to purchase avocados that are hard and then take them home to ripen. Unfortunately avocados can end up in your 'mainstream' markets already ripe, over ripened or if they aren't may sit unsold and end up ripe or over ripened. Avocados will not ripen on the tree. They have to be harvested. Harvested avocados may take some time before they end up in the market and, again they may sit unsold and over ripen. Along with the packaging and handling by growers, market personnel and shoppers they can end up bruised, brown/black, and mushy (if allowed to over ripen).

      To test for ripeness by cradling an avocado gently in your hand. Ripe fruit will be firm, yet will yield to gentle pressure. If pressing leaves a dent, the avocado is very ripe and suitable for mashing. They are best served at room temperature.

      I don't know if you have a Trader Joe's available in or near the area of which you live, but during avocado season they get hard unripened avocados that have been packaged in a 'netted' container, containing several avocados. These are the best for taking home to let them ripen. To speed up the ripening process, remove from netted container and place in a brown paper shopping bag & fold over the top and use a 'clip' to keep bag closed up. Store in a cool dry place and check back every couple of days or so for desired ripeness.

      1 Reply
      1. re: crt

        You have avocado trees in your yard??? Ok I'm jealous. I did plant the seed one time in one of house plant pots and it did grow to 4 feet. It lived for about 2 years and then died.

        To speed up the ripening process I like to include an apple in the brown paper bag. Perfect avocados every time.

      2. This is a challenge, and satifying to get right. I look at the color of the available avocados (I really only like Haas, over those big ones from FLA, but I haven't had any exotic types). I try to buy one where the skin is just turning brownish, if you catch it too late you'll have the dark spots and veins but if it's early enough the flesh will just be turning soft. I agree with the earlier poster, and article, that a good sense of touch is helpful. If you pick up green avocados and gently press they will feel hard, if you pick up a clearly brown one it will be soft, and often shriveled. So the game is to get them just when they're turning, it's a combination of experience and luck in the end.

        5 Replies
        1. re: steinpilz

          Please don't "gently press" the avocados. That will leave a spot of damaged tissue that will oxidize and turn rancid. Think how many people might be using your method before you get to the display!

          A local lady who grows avocados told me years ago: Look at the stem (top) end--is the skin starting to pull slightly away from the stem? Is the tissue there a bit wrinkled? Then its getting ready, another day or two and it'll be perfect. Don't expect to buy a perfectly ripe avocado the day you want to use it--especially if everyone has been "gently pressing' on it. Buy some greener ones and use them when they're ready.

          1. re: toodie jane

            Oh come on Jane, I could walk to work but this wouldn't solve our energy problems. Pressing the avocado flesh is completely acceptable.

            1. re: steinpilz

              "Pressing the avocado flesh is completely acceptable."

              Yes. But only for avocados that you have purchased and taken home to ripen. Otherwise keep your squeezing mitts to yourself if you plan to leave them in the store/market. ;-)

              1. re: steinpilz

                I agree with crt and others. You can pick up an avocado in your hand and feel its ripeness without pressing into the flesh. Pressing them is bad for all avocado fruit purchasers, as avocados bruise so easily. I actually bought a ripe avocado after this discussion started, and so this thread was on my mind while I picked it out. You can tell which is overripe, which is ripe, which is just getting ready to be ripe and which is hard, just by holding the fruit gently in your hand, no pressing necessary. Oh, and put it down gently if it's not the one you are going to buy.

              2. re: toodie jane

                This is why i buy the green ones and ripen them myself. Don't squeeze the Charmin.. uhhh I mean the avocados.

            2. I eat avocado pretty much daily. If they yield to gentle pressure that means a gazillion other shoppers may have had them do the same, and they may be bruised. I prefer them hard (talking about Hass' here- the dark bumpy guys) and I let them get ripe in a pretty lidded soup tureen on my counter. Only takes a day or two.

              1. I agree with Torty, the only way to get a great avocado at the perfect ripeness is to buy them hard and ripen them at home. I usually buy them 4-6 at a time and stage they from my fridge to the counter. Ya gotta let em ripen slowly too -- over a few days. Rushing an avocado to ripeness seems to result in maximum darkness, veining and bruising.