How to Pick an Avocado Like a Pro

Learn how to choose the perfect avocado, plus get our favorite recipes.

Sliced avocados on a cutting board, next to a plate of avocado toast.

Katy Green is a produce field inspector at Whole Foods Market. She works with farmers to make sure the highest quality produce arrives in our stores, so she certainly knows a thing or two about avocados. Check out Katy’s pro buying tips, then visit your Whole Foods Market store to stock up.

Most people love avocados, and that makes sense. I do, too! They have a delicious and smooth, buttery flavor. And they’re amazingly versatile. They’re a staple ingredient during football season (guacamole, anyone?), and they’re also the star of that ubiquitous toast. But how do you pick an avocado so that it’s ready to eat when you’re ready to enjoy it? Try these helpful tips.

Check the Color

This is important: The color of an avocado can tell you when it will be ready to eat. Every variety has a different skin color and shape. For example, the skin color for Hass avocados can range from green to black with various shades of purple and black — or even a slightly reddish-black in the mix. A green Hass will be very hard and will take roughly 7 – 10 days to soften.

If you’re looking for an avocado to eat today or the next day, look for darker shades of black, purple-black and reddish-black. You should also make sure the skin is fairly consistent in coloring with no punctures, bruising or visible breakdown.

Here’s a helpful color scale, too:

Do a Squeeze Test

This is the most important step! There should be a slight give to pressure when you hold a ripe avocado in your hand. If it’s soft and gives too much, it’s beyond the perfect level of ripeness. Most importantly, you want to make sure there is no layer of oxygen or any air pockets between the exterior skin and the flesh. These layers of oxygen feel like little air bubbles, and they’re what causes your avocado to turn brown or even moldy (which is just sad).

Once you’ve picked your perfect avocado, you can store it in the fridge for about five days — it will maintain its level of softness, more or less. If it feels a little firm, leave it out on the counter until it gives slightly to pressure. Then move it into the fridge until you’re ready to eat it. While there’s no way to stop an avocado’s ripening process, the chillier environment in your fridge will slow it down.

You can also speed up the ripening process by putting your avocados in a paper bag with a banana or an apple. Close the paper bag and store at room temperature (like on your counter or on top of the fridge).

How to Use Avocados

When your avocado is ripe, it’s time to make that perfect guac or avocado toast. You can also add it to smoothies and salad dressing for extra creaminess. Or, just eat it with a spoon with a little sea salt — my favorite way to eat an avocado!

Try these delicious ideas:

One last tip. Avocados can be a pain to pit, but practice a few times and you’ll get the hang of it. Watch this how-to video to learn three simple ways to pit an avocado.

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