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Avocado

These Color-Coded Stickers Tell You When Your Avocado Is at Perfect Ripeness

Down in New Zealand, a new tool has emerged to aid consumers in the quest for the perfect avocado that doesn’t require manhandling half the alligator pear pile.

Wyatt Marshall

Finding a perfect avocado is never a sure thing. You can press an avocado's skin to see how it yields to the pressure of your fingers, but what feels ripe may actually yield, upon cutting open the darn thing, a brown, stringy goop (the worst). Or you can check under the stem to try to divine what's inside, but doing so in the supermarket will likely earn you some side-eye.

There are other tricks, but down in New Zealand, a new tool has emerged to aid consumers in the quest for the perfect avocado that doesn't require manhandling the entire pile of bumpy berries (yep, they're actually just big, weird-looking berries) at your local supermarket. At Freshmax, color-gradated stickers placed on avocados' skin hope to take the guesswork out of produce-picking so you can get on with your dinner plans.

A Reddit user noticed the stickers and posted a picture of one online, where it soon went viral. As you probably know, avocados darken as they ripen, and the sticker has three shades of green to correspond with key stages of the ripening process. The light green means you've got an unripe avocado on your hands; mottled green equals a firm, sliceable texture; and dark green/brown means you're looking at a soft, ripe avocado that's good to go for guacamole.

Of course, those with a fair amount of avocado-eating experience can almost always tell when one is ready for action thanks to a combination of its color and firmness. (Sometimes, even a seemingly perfect avocado turns out to be spotty blackish sludge when you cut it open.) But for novices, the sticker could be the difference between A+ guacamole and disappointment. Avocados are pricy, and having to throw one away is doubly tragic thanks to the incredible amount of water—74 gallons in California—needed to produce just one pound of the fruit.

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You may have seen other grocery store chains and produce purveyors place "Ripe" stickers on avocados when they're ready to eat, but obviously, the accuracy of those stickers is short-lived. The color-gradient sticker, on the other hand, is effective regardless of when the avocado was sold.

Reinvent the Wheel mused about a color-matching sticker that would tell you when an avocado is good to eat at the end of 2015, but it's unclear if the system, which has previously been applied to mangoes, has ever been practically implemented before for the beloved alligator pear.

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There are likely more scientific ways to determine the ripeness of an avocado, like, for instance, Calvalo's method of using sound waves to determine the density and ripeness of avocados for retail and other big buyers. But until those high-tech detectors are installed next to the scales in the produce section, color-coded stickers may be the best bet for avocado initiates looking for the perfect pick. We'll be waiting for them in the US—lord knows we love our guac.

Editor's note: A previous version of this story contained wording that may be confusing to some readers regarding whether or not the stickers change color. The stickers' colors do not change, but are meant to serve as a match with the avocados' skin to indicate their stage of ripeness to the buyer.