A serving of an avocado is packed with nutrients like potassium, vitamin K, folate, B vitamins and vitamin C. The fat in an avocado is mostly the healthy, monounsaturated kind that is good for cholesterol. Avocados are great turned into guacamole, tossed into a salad, or turned into fries.

You may have a few extra avocados hanging around this week, perhaps some you picked up for a Cinco de Mayo celebration. The frustrating thing about this versatile fruit is that it isn’t always ripe when you need to use it. If it hasn’t ripened, the flesh is hard and unappealing. If it’s too ripe, the flesh can be mushy or brown. Hitting that optimum ripeness — when the flesh is firm, but with some give to it — is a common problem.

funny avocado ripening chart

There are tricks to ripening an avocado, like sticking it in a paper bag with an apple or banana. If an avocado has gotten too ripe, it may not be good for slicing on top of salads or chopping up into salsa — foods that call for ripe but firm avocados. It’s not useless though. There are lots of uses for overripe avocados, as long as they aren’t too brown. (A little bit of brown can simply be cut out.)

  1. Chocolate Avocado Pudding: As long as the avocados haven’t gone brown yet, mushy avocados are fine for this recipe because they go in the blender.
  2. Avocado Cucumber Soup: The avocados in this recipe in this are also put in a blender. This soup requires no cooking; it’s served chilled.
  3. Spinach Smoothie with Apple and Avocado: Healthy and creamy, an overripe avocado adds to the creaminess of a smoothie.
  4. Chocolate Caramel Avocado Brownies: Hide some healthy stuff in your brownies. The overripe fruit will help these keep their fudgy consistency.
  5. Avocado and Coconut Popsicle: With coconut milk and fresh tarragon, these are unusual but tasty treats.
  6. Corn and Avocado Fritters: Not a usual fritter filler, but if avocados can pop up in pudding and popsicles, why not fritters?
  7. Cucumber and Avocado Face Mask: This gets blended to a paste-like consistency, so very soft avocados are perfect.
Whether you’re using a ripe or an overripe avocado, cutting it can be tricky if you’re unfamiliar with the fruit because of the large stone in the middle. This video from Serious Eats demonstrates how to cut open and slice an avocado.

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Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.