Food & Drink

Bonnie Aeschliman: How to tell if an avocado is ripe

Have you ever made a quick trip to the supermarket to pick up an avocado or two that you needed right away? No doubt you discovered some are bright green, some dark green, some mottled with black and some are totally black. To complicate matters, some are hard as a rock; others are soft and mushy, and others all areas in between.

No wonder so many of you have questions about avocados.

Q. How can you tell if an avocado is ripe but not over-ripe?

A. If you need avocados to use right away, look for avocados whose skin has turned dark green or black. The avocado should yield to gentle pressure from your thumb when you give it a slight squeeze. Those that are very soft, pass them by: They are over the hill.

Q. I am having a Cinco de Mayo party and will be making guacamole. When I buy avocados, it seems I am throwing half of them away. They are soft so they are ripe, right? But when I cut them, I find they are dark and not fit to use. I always buy extras to allow for the wasted ones. How do you know which ones are good?

A. If you are shopping for avocados on the day you need them, it is a hit-and-miss proposition. You probably are selecting very soft ones that are over-ripe. If you know you will be needing avocados, plan to purchase them four or five days in advance. Select the dark green or black ones that still are firm. Place them in a paper bag with a couple of apples. Apples give off natural ethylene gas, which will help ripen avocados organically. Leave the avocados in the closed paper bag with apples for three or four days or until they yield to soft pressure when pressed. At that point, refrigerate them, and they will hold well for five or six days.

Q. How can you keep guacamole from turning dark?

A. Once cut, avocados will turn dark when exposed to oxygen. Many believe if you place the avocado pit in the guacamole, it will prevent it from turning dark. Of course, I tried it to see if it works, but I honestly could not tell it makes any difference. I find placing plastic wrap directly on the surface of guacamole to seal out the air works best. But if you want to, go ahead and sink the pit in it before you seal it with the plastic wrap. Not sure it will help – but it won’t hurt either.

Q. Can you share a recipe for guacamole?

A. See attached.

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