Life Eat & Drink Stop squeezing avocados, there are better ways to test ripeness

Stop squeezing avocados, there are better ways to test ripeness

Is there any greater greater feeling than cutting open a perfectly ripe avocado? Photo: Getty
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Avocado producers and researchers want people to stop squeezing and damaging avocados at the supermarket when testing their ripeness.

Squeezing avocados is the most common method people use to test if the fruit is ripe and research shows that almost everyone — 97 per cent of customers — squeeze avocados at the supermarket before buying.

The problem is, squeezing avocados leaves brown and bruised flesh hidden under the skin which can be a disappointing discovery for the buyer who might have paid an eyewatering $5 for one fruit.

Jennie Franceschi is an avocado packer, marketer, and exporter from Bunbury, in Western Australia’s south-west.

She said most of the damage is done when avocados are on the supermarket shelf.

“Ninety per cent of bruising that occurs is from retail and home,” she said.

“When they’re selecting an avocado, people squeeze them too hard.”

Ms Franceschi suggested people should instead press gently on the stem end to see if there was any give.

“It’s about how much you squeeze them and how forcefully you squeeze them; just be gentle,” she said.

She said people should be careful not to pack avocadoes at the bottom of their shopping bags where they can be damaged by other produce.

Solutions to squeezing

Avocados Australia is encouraging retailers to make it easier for consumers to pick a ripe avocado without squeezing.

Solutions include posters explaining how colour changes might indicate ripeness, although Ms Franceschi said that method was not always reliable.

“You can’t always use colour as a ripeness indicator because avocados will often get colour when they’re on the tree — and they’ll still be hard,” she said.

A new study by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (QDAF), the University of Queensland, and Avocados Australia aims to limit damage to avocados by giving consumers more options to identify ripeness.

Arranging supermarket displays into different ripeness categories, which reduces fruit handling by shoppers, has proved helpful along with education on storage, ripening, and usage.

Tech tool to the rescue — maybe

QDAF lead researcher Professor Daryl Joyce and his team are hoping new technology could stop the squeezing.

“A prototype decision-aid tool, based on a force-sensing resistor placed between the thumb and the fruit, was also recently developed and tested by scientists for in-store use,” he said.

“In-store surveys found the device was favourably received by shoppers but it is still some time away from commercialisation.”

Avocados Australia chief executive John Tyas said consumers should not fear buying fruit that was still hard.

“Your store-bought avocado should ripen within a few days as the ripening process will have already begun,” he said.

“If you want to be sure, simply put the fruit in a bag with a banana.”