Avocados are wonderful when they're ripe, not so much if they're harvested too early. Knowing the best time to pick or harvest avocados will enable you to make the most out of them in dips, salads or straight out of the skin. Many people don't realize that an avocado can be mature before it's picked, but not quite ready to eat. Avocados must be softened off the tree for best results.
Choose avocados for harvesting carefully. Depending on the variety, avocados may take between several days to a week to fully ripen after picking, so choosing the right moment to pluck is vital for favorable results. This post-pluck ripening process will also depend on your local temperature, the variety of avocado and how mature the avocado was when it was plucked.
Watch for signs that the avocados are beginning to mature on the tree. At this point, the color of the avocado may change from a lighter to darker color. Some varieties may develop a duller, less shiny appearance while others may start to show spots or brown specks. Pick an avocado and test it's firmness. It should offer a bit of 'give' when gently and uniformly presses in the palm of the hand. Avoid pressing fingertips into the fruit, as this will cause bruising.
Cut open an avocado and take a look at the seed. In an immature avocado, the seed in most likely to be a white or cream color, while more mature avocados will have a darker seed, sometimes a dark brown color.
Pick a larger avocado off the tree and leave it sitting at room temperature until it softens. When mature, it should soften consistently all around, not just in spots. It should stay the same size, and not wrinkle or shrivel or shrink.
Taste the avocado. The flesh should be light, and not bitter. Flesh should be smooth to the tongue, and not leathery, hard or tough. You should not have to chew ripe avocado flesh.