How to Pick & Buy Fresh Avocados

How to Know When a Fresh Avocado is Ripe

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?

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


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


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


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.

Overripe Past Ripe


Overripe fruit will feel very mushy to the touch; it may have deep indentations and have darker yellow or brownish colored flesh throughout the inside of the fruit. Spoiled overripe fruit will have a rancid smell that some describe as smelling like “a pumpkin” or “squash-like”. For the best eating experience pass on the overripe fruit and enjoy ripe fresh avocados. Learn more about how to tell if an avocado is overripe or unsafe to eat.

You Can’t Hurry Love… or Can You?

A Guide to Ripening Avocados

When it comes to love, timing is everything. Same goes for avocados. Follow these tips to make sure you enjoy every nutritious slice no matter what stage of ripeness.

How to Buy Avocados Ahead of Time for an Event

Unripe, firm green avocados can be purchased 4-5 days ahead of an event

Ripe fresh avocados that yield to gentle pressure should be eaten within a day or two. For events, a four to five days out, purchase firm avocados instead. Unripe, firm or green fruit can take four to five days to ripen at room temperature, perfect for celebrations that are a few days out. Just be careful to watch the fruit to make sure the temperature in your kitchen does not cause them to ripen too quickly. If they begin to yield to gentle pressure, place them in the refrigerator to slow the ripening process.