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Poor avocado. It has a bad rap for being high in fat. But it’s monounsaturated fat—good fat that can actually help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. It's also loaded with vitamins and minerals like fiber, vitamin K, folate and vitamin C. Because it's so healthy, I don't feel bad serving avocados at practically every meal in the summertime when it's in season. But there's nothing worse than slicing into an avocado and finding it underripe—or worse, slimy and overripe! Here’s how to select the perfect avocado at the grocery store or farmer's market:

How to choose ripe avocados

  • Color: Although the color of a ripe avocado differs depending on the variety and its origin, you can expect ripe California avocados to be purplish-black or dark green. Florida avocados will be a lighter green shade with a yellowish tinge. For a more extended list, check out this link.
  • Look under the stem: Don't worry; you'll just be taking a peek—it won't hurt the avocado. Use your fingernail to flick up the stem. You'll see a bright yellow-green patch beneath the stem if your avocado is ripe. What if you spot black underneath the stem? The avocado is likely overripe and mushy on the inside.
  • Give it a squeeze: Hold the avocado in your hand and squeeze it gently. It should feel firm yet slightly yielding. If it feels hard like a stone, it's likely unripe. The skin of an overripe avocado will feel slightly loose when you squeeze it.
  • Shake it: Does your avocado make a rattling sound when you shake it? That's not a good sign. This means the pit has become detached from the flesh, which means it's overripe. You won't hear anything when you shake a ripe avocado.
  • Smell it: A ripe avocado shouldn't smell much like anything. If you smell a rancid or bitter odor, the avocado is overripe and should be discarded.

How to ripen avocados

What do you do if you accidentally bring home an underripe avocado? Just place it in a paper bag on the counter. It should ripen up in about five days. If you want to speed up the process, put an apple or banana inside the bag alongside the avocado. The fruit will release ethylene gas and help speed up the ripening process.

How to store

Store your ripe uncut avocados in the refrigerator where they'll last up to three days. Just don't leave them in the refrigerator too long—they'll lose their flavor! And nobody likes flavorless avocados.

How to use

  • Whip up a BLAT (a bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato sandwich), layer sliced avocados on your favorite grilled fish, or add avocado to summer gazpacho.
  • Ever consider adding avocado to sweet treats? Try blending up avocado with vanilla, sugar and milk for a healthy milkshake. Put avocado in your favorite green smoothie or even try adding pureed avocado to chocolate pudding.
How to Choose Ripe Avocados