How To Pick The Best Avocados At The Grocery Store

Produce shopping can make you feel like Goldilocks, in your search for fruits and veggies that are just right. This is especially true in the avocado bin. Grab two at random and you could wind up with one that's already brown and mushy and another that won't be ready for days. While some seem to have the magic produce touch, others can't catch a break. Like scoping out the perfect watermelon or choosing a quality cantaloupe, there are some tricks to getting it right.


Luckily, those without an innate avocado sense have some options. The first is an AI-powered scanner that can tell you whether your produce is ripe. If that sounds like science fiction, it isn't. The OneThird ripeness checker was unveiled at the 2023 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and rolled out to select European supermarkets soon after, taking the guesswork out of produce shopping and reducing food waste.


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If you don't have access to the latest innovations in avocado tech, don't worry — there are low-tech methods that work well too. For starters, your avocado selection criteria will vary based on when you're planning to eat it — if that's today or tomorrow, look for one that is nearly black and has a bit of give when squeezing gently with your palm. Avocados that will be eaten later can be more green and firm, as long as they're not dented.


How to become an avocado whisperer

When you're looking for the right avocado at the grocery store, start with a visual inspection to avoid disturbing every one in the bin. Although it isn't always a perfect indicator, an avocado's color can be a helpful clue about its ripeness. Darker skin, ranging from dark green to black, usually correlates to a riper avocado, while brighter green ones tend to be less ripe (we're talking here about the Hass variety). If you can't find any prime candidates, the green ones will mature within a few days at home, especially if you know some tricks for speeding up the ripening process.


After a scan, use your sense of touch for a texture check. A ripe avocado will have bumpy skin that is taut and feels adhered to its flesh beneath, without any dents or air pockets. When you pick up an avocado and squeeze it gently in your palm, it should feel slightly soft, without spots that have excessive give. Try not to squeeze or poke the avocado with your fingertips though, as that's typically where the mushy spots on avocados originate. Another no-no is popping off the stem of an avocado unless you're quite sure you're going to buy it. While it's a good way to check for ripeness, according to experts at the Hass Avocado Board, this exposes the interior to oxygen and speeds up ripening.


Avocado pro tips beyond the grocery store

Choosing the right avocado at the store is only half the battle, ensuring that the avocado is perfectly ripe when you need it is the other. Proper storage can make all the difference. If you've chosen slightly underripe avocados that you don't plan on eating for a few days, keeping them at room temperature should do. If you'd like to speed up the ripening process, putting them in a sunny spot can help.


If you've selected some ripe avocados that are ready to eat, storing them in the refrigerator can slow down ripening. If you've cut an avocado and want to save the rest for later, you'll need to up the ante a bit to keep it from going bad. Squeezing some lemon or lime juice on the exposed flesh, and then wrapping it tightly with plastic wrap can reduce oxidation. This trick also works to keep guacamole green longer. And despite what you've heard, storing guac with the pit ain't helping with freshness. With these tips in mind, you'll be able to find an avocado that's just right (and keep it that way).