Picking out a perfectly ripe avocado is a complete gamble at worst, and an educated guess at best. Too soft, and you’re left with a mushy brown mess. Too firm, and you’re stuck with a yellow-ish, stuck-to-the-skin substance that’s unfit for toast and definitely not suitable for homemade guacamole.
Because you can’t cut into the fruit in the middle of the produce aisle, your best bet is to feel it in your hand. But there might be an even easier method. Earlier this week, a Reddit user posted a photo of an avocado with a three-tiered color chart on the sticker, which depicted the exact color and texture of a not ripe, firm ripe, and soft ripe avocado. The avocado in the photo matched perfectly with the “soft ripe” portion of the sticker, indicating that the fruit was ready to be eaten.
Not only does this sticker help you make a more educated decision, but it also keeps other shoppers from squeezing the life out of all the avocados. The caveat? Not all avocados have this handy sticker—plus, color alone is not always the best indicator of ripeness. In fact, some varieties of avocados don’t change color much as they ripen. Your best bet is to buy slightly underripe avocados, and let them ripen at home. Look for pebbly-skinned Mexican Hass avocados, which are more flavorful than smooth-skinned Fuertes and have a buttery, creamy texture when ripe. It should feel firm in your palm, but give slightly when pressed.
If you want your avocado to ripen quickly, place it in a brown paper bag with a banana (which releases ethylene gas, quickening ripening) and place it on a sunny windowsill for 18 to 24 hours. This trick works even if your avocado is rock hard when you begin the process. Ready to start cooking? Follow these steps to slicing and dicing.