While often mistaken for a vegetable, an avocado is actually a fruit. This high-fiber, nutrient-rich fruit is cholesterol- and sodium-free, making it an ideal addition to a healthy diet. There are more than 500 varieties of avocados, but Hass avocados are the most readily available, as they are grown commercially more than any other variety of avocado. Knowing the characteristics of the popular Hass helps you select a ripe avocado.
Hass avocados are ovoid-shaped and their skins have a bumpy texture. Before a Hass avocado is ripe, it is firm to the touch and its skin is green. As the avocado ripens, the fruit softens and turns darker in color. A ripe Hass avocado's skin is a very dark shade of green, purple or even black. When selecting a Hass avocado, check the skin for dents and soft spots to avoid overly-blemished fruit.
The Inside Scoop
When a ripe Hass avocado is pealed or sliced open, the fruit inside should be a light yellow-green color. The skin should peel easily away from the creamy, smooth fruit. It is not uncommon to see small blemishes inside the avocado, especially where the fruit meets the skin. These blemishes can either be removed or are unnoticeable if the avocado is being mashed for guacamole.
Part of the Hass avocado's popularity stems from its exceptional shelf life. Hard, unripe avocados can be purchased days before their intended use. The California Avocado Commission recommends placing avocados in a brown paper bag at room temperature to ripen the fruit in two to five days. Ripe avocados can be stored in the refrigerator for two or three days until ready to eat.
Avocados Gone Bad
Hass avocados that have passed their prime have a few distinct characteristics. The first sign of a bad avocado is the skin. The normally glossy skin loses its luster and begins to look dry. A spoiled avocado may "cave in" where spots are too soft and rotting. When cut open, the fruit is no longer smooth, creamy and green. It may be brown, black or grey and the skin won't separate from the fruit as easily. Spoiled avocados either have a mushy, watery texture or a dried-out, rubbery texture. In either case, the skin and fruit of a spoiled avocado is distinct. Spoiled Hass avocados look and feel quite different from their ripe and unripe counterparts; knowing these differences helps you select the perfect avocado each time.