Read on to prevent a guacamole emergency.

 

When buying avocados, timing is everything. In the span of just a day or two, they can turn from semi-firm to overripe. A soft, super-ripe avocado won’t hold up when diced for a salad, and a firmer one won’t make great guacamole. Unlike other types of fresh produce, you really have to think ahead to when you’ll actually be eating the fruit. (Yes, avocados are a fruit!)

If you’re making guacamole that day, you need super-soft avocados that will mash up smooth and creamy. Look for avocados with slightly bumpy, dark green skin (black skin is often a sign of over-ripeness). If the small piece of stem can be easily removed from the top of the avocado, that’s another sign that the fruit is ready to eat. Give it a little squeeze. If it yields easily to pressure, you’re good to go.

If you want to keep an avocado from continuing to ripen, you can store it in the refrigerator for a day or two. Chilling the fruit will change its texture slightly, but it will still be good to eat.

Let’s say it’s a Thursday, you’re having friends over for brunch Saturday morning, and you want to make a big platter of avocado fritters. Choose smooth skinned, bright green avocadoes that are firm to the touch and allow them to ripen over the next few days. Check on them daily to make sure they are not ripening too quickly.

The best place to ripen avocados is on your kitchen counter at room temperature. If you want to speed up the process, add a whole, unpeeled piece of fruit to the bag, like an apple or a banana. The bag will trap ethylene gas produced by the fruit, which helps the avocado ripen faster.