How to select a fresh avocado

Follow these tips on selecting a fresh avocado.

Ever been disappointed when you go to the grocery store with the thought of making fresh guacamole when you get home, only to be disappointed that all of the avocados are either rock hard or rotten? When selecting a fresh avocado, it is important to know when you plan on eating it, as this is one fruit that ripens quickly, so you want to consume it when it’s at peak quality. When purchasing avocados, it’s always a gamble as to the degree of ripeness you will find them. Avocados are available year round, most are grown in California.

If you are planning on eating this fruit immediately, you want an avocado that gives to gentle pressure when squeezed, but shouldn’t be too soft. Hold the avocado in the palm of your hand and squeeze gently to test. If it is very firm, it may need to sit on the counter a few more days to ripen. You can refrigerate them to slow down the ripening process, or if you need to speed it up, try placing in a paper bag with an apple or banana.

Avocados that are not very ripe will have a brighter green color, which darkens as it ripens to a deeper green color, often with a purple tint. The color can vary however depending on the variety. What you want to avoid are avocados that are mushy, have brown spots, dents and bruises. On end of the fruit that was attached to the plant, it is ideal to find a short stem still attached (if possible – this is not real common to find), as that will slow down the ripening process – unless of course you need to speed this up, then this is not important.

Once you are ready to eat the avocado, cut it in half, separate it, then hold one half in your hand and scoop out the meat with a spoon. Once it’s out, you can mash it, slice it, or eat it by the half. Avocadoes do oxidize and turn brown rather quickly, Michigan State University Extension recommends using ascorbic acid (Fruit Fresh®) to help maintain the bright green color, or try lemon or lime juice, which has high amount of vitamin C that will offer some protection from oxidation.

Avocados are a great addition to a healthy diet, despite the fact that they are high in fat. This is largely monounsaturated fat, which has health benefits such as lowering cholesterol, and thus your risk of heart disease. Avocados not only contain monounsaturated fat, but they are also packed with folate, vitamins E, C and B6, potassium and fiber. Try adding avocado to salad, pizza, soup, salsa, eggs and sandwiches.

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