How To Pick The Perfect Avocado, From New York City's Avocado Guy

mbg Contributor By M. Tara Crowl
mbg Contributor
M. Tara Crowl is a journalist who writes about food and farming, and author of middle grade novels Eden’s Wish and Eden’s Escape.

Image by MartĂ­ Sans / Stocksy

We've all drooled over Instagram photos of blemish-free yellow-green avocados, but finding them at the grocery store can feel like a game of chance. Sometimes an avocado seems promising from the outside, but at home when you slice it open, the flesh is either too hard to eat or brown and bruised. How can you identify picture-perfect avocados without being able to peek inside? 

Miguel Gonzalez is here to help. As the supplier of the flawless avocados served by more than 150 restaurants in New York City, Gonzalez has pretty much mastered the art of the ripe avocado. Working with a partner in Mexico who selects prime stock from avocado farms there, Gonzalez monitors every detail of their transit to his warehouse in Queens, where he oversees the rest of the ripening process. By the time he delivers the avocados, they're at precisely the levels of color, firmness, and flavor that his clients request.

Gonzalez's company, G de P, makes daily deliveries to Michelin-starred NYC restaurants like Jean-Georges, Daniel, Casa Enrique, and the Modern. But as of last month, his new venture, Davocado Guy, also delivers small orders to individuals. So if you're in New York City, you're in luck: You can get his perfectly ripe avocados personally delivered to your home or office. If not, read on for a few of Gonzalez's tips for selecting and storing the nutrient-packed fruit we're all smitten with.

What's your advice for choosing a perfect avocado at the store?

1. Check the stem.

Check to see if there's a stem, the short brown stub at the top of the avocado. If it's there, nudge it with your thumb. Does it come off easily? If not, the avocado probably isn't ripe yet. 

If it does come off, check the color of the indentation it leaves behind. If it's a bright, fluorescent yellow or green, the avocado is ready to go. If it's moldy or black, that's not an avocado you want to buy. 

If the stem isn't on the avocado, check the color of the indentation. Since it's already been exposed to air, it won't be bright yellow or green. But if it's brown (Gonzalez describes the shade as the color of a tree trunk) rather than black or moldy, the avocado should be good.

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2. Test how soft it is.

Don't squeeze it! Put it in the palm of your hand to determine how hard or soft it is. If it feels mushy, it's past its prime. It might still be good to eat, but it's a gamble at this point. 

3. Look at the color.

Look at the color. As a Hass avocado ripens, the color darkens from green to black. If it's a vibrant green, it's not ripe yet. If it's too ripe, the color will be very dark and there might be white spots on the skin. 

However, Gonzalez says, even if an avocado looks and feels ripe, it still might not be. Most avocados eaten in the U.S. are grown in Mexico, California, or Peru, and there's no way to know if they've been handled carefully on their journey to your grocery store. Many issues can arise along the way that could damage the avocado. 

For instance, if temperature fluctuations occurred in transit, the oil inside the avocado can actually "cook" its flesh. Gonzalez says if this happens, the avocado will go directly from being too hard to overly ripe.

Even if an avocado arrives at a store in perfect condition, damage can still occur before you buy it. Many shoppers' go-to method for gauging ripeness is to squeeze them. But if a lot of people have grabbed or squeezed an avocado, its flesh will be brown and bruised—even if it looks green on the outside. "Think about someone grabbing your arm and squeezing it," says Gonzalez. "Imagine a hundred people doing the same thing in the same place. At the end of the day, you're going to have a bruise. It's kind of the same reaction." 

Ready to learn more about how to unlock the power of food to heal your body, prevent disease & achieve optimal health? Register now for our FREE web class with nutrition expert Kelly LeVeque.

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