Ken Thompson: ready to eat or not ripe at all – how can you tell (especially with avocados)?

When is a fruit ripe? A peach, say. Well, we know when we taste it, but by then it’s too late if we realise it should have been left to ripen for a bit longer. During ripening, there are internal changes, mainly involving more sugar; a ripe peach is sweeter than an unripe one. But in terms of things you can detect from the outside, there are two main changes: in firmness, and colour. 

Firmness is what we’re trying to estimate when we pick up a peach and gently squeeze it. But …

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