We're all familiar with the struggle: You buy an avocado that's not quite ready for eating, wait for it to ripen (while envisioning the picture-perfect avocado toast you'll soon be enjoying), check on it periodically (read: every other hour), and then eventually give in and slice it open only to find that it's already gone bad. Yes, you missed the fleeting window of ripeness, and now you're left with an expired avocado. Unlike other fruits, it's almost impossible to decipher whether an avocado is ripe with the eye alone.
"A surefire way to gauge an avocado's ripeness is to gently squeeze the fruit in the palm of your hand," advises Jan DeLyser, vice president, marketing for the California Avocado Commission. "But avoid bruising the fruit by not using your fingertips when doing so," she warns. "You'll know if the fruit is ready to eat when it is firm yet yields to gentle pressure.” The California Avocado Commission also provides detailed advice on how to select avocados. For example, the commission explains that color alone may not tell the whole story—Hass avocados will turn dark green or black as they ripen, while other varieties retain their light-green skin as they ripen.
If you plan on enjoying the avocados in a few days, it's best to stock up on avocados that are still hard and unripened.
Have some unripe avocados on your hands? It turns out that this is the best way to store an avocado.