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How to Buy the Perfect Avocado

By Heidi Patalano | May 31, 2013 6:35am | Updated on May 31, 2013 7:16am
 Hass Avocados are at their prime right now.
Hass Avocados are at their prime right now.
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NEW YORK — It's a terrible joke, but it sums up the difficulty of finding a perfect avocado. When it comes to buying them, most of us are saying, “Avoca-Doh!”

Trying to find one ripe, but not too ripe, is the pits.

A green Hass avocado isn’t ready, but a green Florida avocado may be. Buying one ready to use immediately is tough.

Knowledge is power, which is why we asked two produce experts to tell us which avocados to buy when, and why.

Hass avocados are the most widely known and available strain of the fruit since they are grown year-round. The skin of these pimply fruits turns from green to a purplish-black when they are ripe.

But not all Hass avocados are created equal. Julio Garcia, manager at New York Produce said that the Hass avocados from Mexico and California contain the most oil and therefore are most in demand. Behind them are avocados from the Dominican Republic and Peru.

Produce Manager at local grocery chain Garden of Eden, Ali Colakoglu prefers the Hass avocados distributed by Calavo, which sources its products from California.

“This is the perfect time of year to have them,” he said, adding that the best growing season for the California avocados is between January and May.

The size of Hass avocados are standardized throughout the industry. They fall into one of eight sizes — ranging from three inches to four inches. A four inch avocado, for example, is labeled a #28 and contains about a cup and one eighth of pulp. The smallest size at three inches, #84, produces about one third of a cup of pulp.

 The Florida Avocado is considered less flavorful than the Hass avocado.
The Florida Avocado is considered less flavorful than the Hass avocado.
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To speed up an avocado’s ripening, place it in a paper bag at room temperature. This accelerates the process because it traps the ethylene gas that the fruit gives off. To slow down ripening, put the avocado in the fridge. Once you cut open an avocado, the ripening process stops.

"When I buy avocados I always look for fruit that is a day or two away from being full ripe," Garcia said.

Never buy an avocado that makes a rattling sound when you pick it up. That means the pit has pulled away from the pulp and the avocado is over-ripe. A ripe avocado should have a little give when it is gently squeezed.

And what about those big, smooth, green avocados from Florida? While they are usually bigger and less expensive than Hass avocados, they have a lower oil content and, therefore, less flavor.

While they are lower in calories, they're also so much larger that you can easily consume more calories by volume.

But the Florida avocado has its benefits. Garcia recommends them as a satisfying addition to a summer tomato salad.