How to pick and ripe avocados

Avocados are a great source of vitamins and a versatile ingredient to be used not only in salads and the popular guacamole, but also in soups, breads and even desserts!
However, before you use an avocado in any recipe there are certain things you should look for from both the outside and inside, just to make sure you are getting a quality product. Here is how to distinguish a good, ripe avocado from the pile of avocados at the store.

The skin of a good avocado has a uniform appearance. Stay away from the ones with blemishes, scars or mushy spots on the skin. Pick up the avocado and squeeze it gently in the palm of your hand. Like most fruits, avocados do not ripen until picked, so fresh ones will be as hard as rocks. A ripe and ready to eat avocado will yield to gentle pressure and feel the same as if you were to squeeze the palms of your hands. If you leave dents in the skin, it is most likely the avocado has gone bad. It will feel mushy and might even have sections that feel as if nothing is inside.

If you can only find rock-hard avocados at the store, there is a way you can make them ripen quickly. It is important not to store the unripe avocado in the refrigerator. Once chilled, it will never ripen properly. Instead, place it in a brown paper bag, away from direct sunlight and store it at room temperature for 2 to 5 days. To speed up the ripening process, place an apple or a banana in the bag along with the avocado. They contain high levels of ethylene, a natural ripening agent. Once ripe, they can be stored in the refrigerator, unpeeled, for up to two weeks.