Going to the grocery store to find a perfect creamy and ripe avocado is no easy task. Depending on the season it may be a few days before you can enjoy your avocado. Cutting one open brings an adrenaline rush that makes you only hope to see a soft green center inside that you can enjoy immediately.

We are not new to this struggle and countless times we’ve heard from others disappointed they can not make their dish as planned. We decided to give you some tips and pointers the next time you go shopping for one.

While selecting the best avocado is the most important part of the process, there are ways to speed up the ripening process (some better than others). Next time you head out the door to pick one up make sure you are prepared to do the following

Initial color check

Ok, first glance is the easiest way to narrow the field. Ripe avocados have a dark green/black color to them. If you spot any bright green ones don’t even bother to keep checking since they will be hard as a rock. Also make sure you are checking for hass avocados because those are the ones that truly provide the creamiest insides. Now that you have narrowed the field, onto the next test.

Do a touch test

Feeling out the avocado can give you a good idea of how soft and ripe it may be. Ripe avocados are soft yet pliable. When pressed they should bounce back and not completely collapse into its. Give a decent grip to the avocados and see how they fare. Note that you always want to find a balance between soft and too soft. If a avocado is slightly hard but still has some give we estimate it will be almost perfect to eat the morning after.

Check under the stem

This is quick trick to actually see inside the avocado by removing the stem and see for yourself! Pop off the top and see if its that green color you are looking for. This is mainly used to make sure you are not getting an overly ripe avocado. It may seem fine by look and feel but when you open the stem and notice a brown color it is no good.

How to ripen an avocado faster

If you are all out of options and can’t find any perfect avocados there are ways to help. First you need to find one that is close to being ripe. If it is again hard as a rock and bright green no trick in the book will ripen it overnight. But if you have a day or so try putting an avocado in a brown paper bag with an apple or a banana. This traps the gas that fruits release called ethylene, which triggers them all to ripen faster. If you are really in a pinch you can take a fork to make holes in the avocado and try microwaving it for 40 seconds. This won’t completely ripen one but it can definitely help soften it last minute.

Best way to store an avocado

If you come away from the store with perfectly ripe avocados but don’t need to use them for a few days try popping them in the refrigerator. This will slow down the ripening process and allow you to enjoy them whenever you are ready.

Lastly, got leftover avocado or guacamole that’s already cut open? Splash a bit of lime on it and cover it entirely with plastic wrap so no air can touch the surface. This requires pressing the plastic wrap up against it either in a bowl or directly on top. This should make it last an extra day or two and prevent that dark green layer that forms on top. Quick tip the dark green does not mean the avocado is unsafe to eat just less pleasant of a color that doesn’t make you feel like its fresh.

Avocados are a tricky fruit to time so practice makes perfect. Over time you’ll learn to prepare in advance when you want to make you have ripe avocados for your next meal.