Never Buy A Rotten Avocado Again

Where I live, far from avocado country, it’s not unusual for organic avocados to be $2.50 or $3 each.

“Oh, waaah, you big crybaby,” locavore purists might argue, “avocados are expensive because you live in Seattle, so stop buying non-local food!”

To which I reply: “The zombies can have my guacamole when they pry it from my salt-covered, tortilla chip-holding fingers.”

In any event, if you are paying $3 for a single avocado, you want that avocado to be freaking perfect: soft but not bruised, fully ripe but not rotten.

But I suspect many avocado lovers have experienced, as I have, the disappointment of slicing into their avo only to find brown streaks or dark, rotten bruising on the inside.


Here’s how to make sure that never happens again.

Before you commit to a specific avocado, look for all the external signs of ripe-but-not-rotten. With a Hass avocado (the variety we tend to get on the West coast), the skin should be very dark green-to-black and bumpy. The fruit should feel heavy and firm, with no obvious smooshy parts or flat areas.

Now here’s the trick. Once you’ve got a good candidate, take a sneak-peak at what’s inside. Discreetly flick the dry stem off the fruit.

If you see a brown patch under the stem, put that avocado back. It will be gross inside.

Like this:

But, if the fruit right under the stem is bright avocado yellow-green, you have a winner. Your avocado will be great.

Like this:

This technique has never failed me.

Haas avocados purchased hard and green will ripen nicely on the counter over several days. However, once your avocado hits that black-skinned stage, don’t delay in enjoying it. The difference between a soft and creamy avocado and a brown-streaked, half-rotten one is only a few days on the counter.


  1. says

    Thanks for the tip. I’ve always gone with how the pointy end feels. If it’s firm it’s ok, but it isn’t fool proof.

  2. says

    You have just changed my life! I love avocadoes and the disappointment at cutting open a manky brown one can loom rather large. Yes, that makes me shallow. And yes, I know there are bigger issues in the world but I’m with you as far as loving these amazing delectables. There are essential eating in my world.

    • tyra says

      I don’t think that makes you shallow. I have had days entirely ruined by rotten avacados, because I don’t have a lot of play money, so I don’t treat myself to one very often, and when I do, I save up so much anticipation for them. Literally this has caused adult temper tantrums in my kitchen. :) Thanks for the tip!

  3. Tamara says

    Thanks Erica for the great tip. I love avocados and it’s so disappointing to get one and then have it be gross inside. Hope to see you at the MENF this weekend!

  4. lisa says

    I’m only a little embarrassed by how excited I am about this tip. I am going to do something I rarely do in writing… give you exclamations points!!…!!!!!…!!!!!!!!!

    • says

      I couldn’t agree more!! I am now ecstatic to go shopping for my perfect avocados. I will have a smug look all day. Yeah, betcha didn’t know what I do. Lol

  5. Deborah Joy says

    Great tip! I live in the heart of avo country – and I didn’t know that! Don’t feel too bad about your prices: avos here generally cost $2.50 each, too:( Fortunately for us, the tree we planted 20 years ago(!) has a decent harvest for the first time ever. (ya really gotta give those babies what they want!)

    • Amy says

      I’d really love some tips on growing avocados! I can grow them to about 2′ but then they start to die or lose all their leaves.

  6. Katherine says

    Great tip, and I love your blog in general.

    It is “discreetly,” not “discretely,” for this usage, by the way.

  7. Debbie says

    Thanks for the great tip! I live here in the Pacific NW, too and unfortunately have had way too many avacado tragedies. I’m going shopping today and will try out your tip! Thanks again!

  8. Tanya says

    Good tip. As the daughter of a So-Cal avocado farmer, can I put in this plug? Buy California avo’s! They’re sort of local. More than Chilean ones at least :) I also agree that they are essential to life.

  9. says

    Great tip, thanks. Also — avocado aficionados probably already know this one — you can put an unripe avo in a brown paper bag for faster ripening.

  10. says

    To be honest, and maybe I’m just not very picky, your first avocado doesn’t look that bad. I’ve seen much worse, like really, really brown and gross. That just looks a little bit mushy around that one edge. I don’t think the taste is that greatly affected either until it gets into the very mushy, brown stage.

    If you can get the large, green avocados that are the best. I lived in Florida for 8 years and loved the peak season when everyone’s avocados were ripe and in abundance—but now I’m ‘suffering’ through non-local avocados here in Texas again.

    • Lin says

      Misti, when I visit Texas I am always so happy to find that HEB has vacuumed packed halved avocados! They are always so pretty and just the right ripeness. Wish we had an HEB here in Tennessee!

  11. Debbie says

    Avocados are a miracle fruit to me ever since I found out that avocados don’t ripen on the tree so avocado farmers don’t need big warehouses to store them in to ripen.

  12. Misty says

    Thanks for the tip! I live in the PNW too and I love my avocados. Another tip that I’ve found helpful is to put ripe avocados in the fridge. If you put them in at that just right stage, they stay that way much longer than they would on the counter.

  13. says

    Definitely a good rule of thumb! I personally like to go a step further and buy avocados as hard as rocks–that way they don’t bruise in the bag on the way home.

  14. says

    I agree with Misty. Put them in the fridge just as the get to the perfect stage. They keep unbeliveably longer. Thanks for the tip on buying though, I will def use it.

  15. Amy says

    They freeze well, so if it get ripe and you are not ready for it, peel and seed then toss in a ziplock. Freeze. Will last a good long while that way. He do grow “cados” here in Houston, but they are still expensive. I think it doesn’t matter where you are, if that fruit is not in season. We don’t have apples here. They ship them in from your hood and they are not good like they are up in Wash. state. So, you do have your blessings.

  16. SharonLee says

    I was told by a grower to always buy our avocados with the stem attached. And we do find that they last way longer. We seldom loose one. We also buy when very hard.

  17. says

    I love the tip! I love creamy dreamy avocados too. I wonder if you have ever ordered from Azure Standard? They are based out of Oregon and I will be getting my organic avocados from them for $1.00 each.

      • says

        Ha Ha @ Dea Lowry, no the food group I order through is based out of Oregon, their organic avocado’s come from California this time of year. here is a link to the info on their avocados it won’t show you the price if you do not register but right now they are 3 for $3. How ever they do grow a lot of the fresh items they offer in Dufur, OR by the way I do not work for them I am just an avid supporter of people who try to start something good and make non gmo organic food available for an excellent price to those of us who are interested. I offered this in response to who complaint about paying $2 or $3 each for avocados.

  18. says

    THANK YOU! There’s nothing worse than spending way too much on a GD avocado only to find out that you can’t even eat it. I’m going to test this out ASAP. THANKS again. I’ll be tweeting you.

  19. lynn says

    yum! i rarely buy them, mostly because they’re so expensive (because they don’t grow in nc either…but some other great things do!). they were 49 cents at aldi a couple weeks ago, hard as a rock. i bought four then went back the next day for 10 more! avocado was my main veg and fat source for a nice little while. so good! the last one or two had gone a little long.

    has anyone had any luck slowing the ripening? i thought about putting a few in the frig for later ripening. didn’t know how it would work and feared the worst.

    • Sunny Seal says

      Yes, You can slow down ripening by putting unripe ones in the refrigerator. When I pick about ten, I keep 4 out and the rest away then start taking out one a day, for sandwiches and salads or anything.

      • lynn says

        thank you sunny. i’d seen other references to letting them ripen and then put them in the frig. good to know that it works to put them in the frig before they’re ripe too! makes sense.

    • says

      They last a good long time in the fridge. I just discovered one that had gotten lost behind something … it must have been in there for *weeks*, and it was still yummy. :-)

  20. Rachel says

    The other thing this technique does is prevent your avocado from “stringing” inside…the strings are from the seed starting to sprout, but removing the stem will prevent it from sprouting. If it’s black then it’s already started to sprout.

    I currently live in Central Africa and had an avocado tree in my yard until we moved about 2 months ago.

    • Margaret says

      Wow, I wish I could upvote this… I don’t usually freak out if there’s a bit of brownness on the inside, even if they’re too brown to eat straight you can usually still make guac with them and have it be fine… but the STRINGS. Those bloody strings are the bane of my existence. The whole point of avocados is how creamy they are, having to pick strings out of your teeth ruins the entire effect. I’m going to try these tricks the next time I’m at the grocery.

  21. says

    Why not just give a soft squeeze to test the firmness?
    I’m always annoyed when I get to the avocado pile and people have picked off all the stems causing all the avocados they left behind to begin oxidizing from one end. Just wiggle the stem instead of removing it if you must. If it doesn’t wiggle a bit, its not ripe.

    • Katharina says

      Good point Brian!
      I was going to ask how picking off the stem affects the avocado and ripening.

      • says

        We live in the Bay of Plenty in New Zealand, yes it is Avocado country and for most of the year we buy 10 Avos for $5. If I get to choose them at a roadside stall, I’d would never choose and avo where the stem is removed, they won’t last very long and can be streaky. If you want avos ready to eat test their ripeness by lightly pressing around the area at the stem, if it has a give your avo is ripe. The problem of people pressing the whole avo to see if it is ripe is that it bruises the fruit and it goes brown inside much faster. Thats why I would never buy Avos in a supermarket, cause everbody does their prodding. For those of you who live further away from the avo growing areas, contact the avocado growers direct and order a box full, delivered straight to your door and then us the instruction in this blog to stage the ripening process.

    • Justwendy says

      Yeah, I was wondering about that when I first read this post and then all through the thread. Specifically, what happens when you are at the grocery store, farmer’s market, or whatever, and you are searching through the bin for the perfect avocado?

      What if you can’t find an avo with the little stem tip still attached because everyone ahead of you has removed all of them in their own search for the perfect one? Does removing the stem tip then speed up ripening or oxidation? And, does the test still work if the stem tip was already removed by someone else or in the packing process? In other words, if the stem tip was already removed when you examine it, does the fresh light green color still indicate that it’s still in good shape and the dark color still indicate that the flesh inside has already gone bad?

  22. Annie-Rose says

    Great tip! Has anyone else experienced the tragedy of Trader Joes avocados? I have finally given up on trying them. Even if I buy them hard, they “ripen” straight to the rotten, black stage. At no point are they edible. What gives?

  23. Lesley says

    AWESOME!!! Because I have been getting a lot of nasty ones of late. This is great and I will definitely make it a practice.

  24. says

    Great tip. Thank you so much for sharing!! I have bought my share of bad ones. I have one question. I used to live in Kansas and often I would buy rubbery avos. How do you prevent purchasing those? By the way, I now live over the pass from you in Ellensburg.

  25. Angelina says

    I have but one concern with this tip…once the stem is gone, I believe they go bad quickly. Am I wrong about this? I just always protect that stem because that seems to be the case for me. Now I’ll have to do some kitchen science experiments! :)

  26. Scott says

    Actually avocados are one of those that you don’t have to buy organic. So don’t waste your money! Save it for those fruits and vegetables that organic is the only way to eat them. Costco has great price on avocados.

  27. says

    Brilliant tip! Thanks so much. I agree that there are few things more disappointing than cutting into an avocado and finding it rotten.

  28. says

    Love learning and sharing tips. Do you also know that you can remove that seed by placing the “fruit” on a towel or cutting board and whacking a knife in the seed and then twisting it….the seed lifts right out.

  29. Beth says

    Thanks for all the great tips. Also, good to know that I’m not alone in experiencing avocados going straight from unripe to rotten. But, when I get to eat one at the exact right moment, there’s nothing like it.

  30. CitizenSlave says

    If you find a great buy on them, get them. Toss in ‘fridge; they ripen a lot slower in the ‘fridge.

    (My normal prob with them is like bananas, gotta wait a few days after buying to enjoy, rarely are the ones in stores here over ripe)

  31. Cassie says

    Wow thats how a good avocado looks. I have never bought one that didn’t have a brown colored seed in it. What an eye opener. Thanks for the info.

  32. Katie says

    I eat avos alllll the time, so thank you so much for this wonderful tip!

    I’ve just discovered your blog, and I have been reading your posts about budgeting. My question is, for a 24 year old grad student living in a small apartment in the middle of town, in the harshest, coldest, part of the harshest, coldest state (other than Alaska), what do you suggest for gas savings/food savings – especially when it’s -60 F with the windchill?

    Many thanks!

    • says

      Well, I can honestly say I have no idea what -60 F feels like. I think you must be amazingly rugged to handle that. I know you’re asking about gas and food, but this link might be helpful since I’m guessing you have to spend a lot of money heating your place. It talks about heating the *person* rather than the room, and as such might be useful to cut down on utility bills (assuming you are covering those rather than your landlord).

      The basics on gas savings are the same everywhere I think: avoid driving when possible, be super conscious about running errands deliberately, only when really necessary, and in the most milage-efficient order (ie, no backtracking), and keep your car tuned up to get the best possible milage. I like this post about doing the little things right to save on gas, since not everyone can bike everywhere (hello -60 degrees town) or can spring for a new Prius.

      For food savings, the easiest way to save money is to cook from scratch, from staple items. Yeah, I mean like beans and rice. (Then it’s easier to buy an avocado to top it all with!). If you are single or without kids, particularly, I think once-a-week big batches of stew, soup, chili, etc. kept in the fridge and eaten between my-eyeballs-are-bleeding study sessions is a good way to save time AND money. In general, the cheaper cuts of meat are also the most flavorful, you just have to know what to do with them. What to do with them is almost ALWAY “braise” meaning, cook slowly with a little liquid at a low temp. That’s what turns cheap-and-chewy meat into succulent, tender deliciousness. A crock pot is a good way to handle this from a convenience standpoint, and I think also at the lowest energy cost.

      Thanks for reading. Hope this helps. :)

  33. Karen Marshall says

    Awesome tip…I am one of those who gently “feels” the softness of the avocado. I eat almost one a day, so they are important to me. My skin is soft instead of dry, my hair shines, and I feel better than I have in years! A lot of that is due to raw foods and my favorite is the glorious avocado!

    • says

      I am a big advocate of buying and using local food, I even wrote a book about it ( If it is available locally I buy it locally, but if there is a superfood, for me it is coconut oil, I buy it in bulk where I can buy it.

  34. Chris says

    Now I’ll be finding all the “rejects” with the broken-off stems in the bin!!
    Still a great tip.

  35. Shirley says

    I saw a Mexican lady do this in our OKC grocery store, and asked her…she said the same thing…green under the stem equals good.

  36. says

    I’m with Misti above…I don’t really see much wrong with the first avocado in your pics. Maybe a little over-ripe, but not rotten by any means. (But, I’m the same way with bananas; I like them VERY ripe.) Or maybe I just can’t stand the thought of an avocado going to waste.

    I also don’t buy organic avocados. I’d never be able to afford them if I did. I’ve bought regular (non-organic) avos at Aldi for as little as .29, but they are usually .49 or .69 there. I try to pick out a few that are ripe that day, and several that have yet to ripen. I do the “press on the pointed end” method to detect ripeness.

    I love guacamole, but my favorite way to eat an avocado is to just sprinkle it with coarse sea salt and scoop it out with a spoon. Yum!

    • Toni says

      Yes “Annie” I have been trying to find different ways of eating cado’s as I had never liked then before except as quacamole. I always keep coarse ground sea salt & coarse kosher salt in my pantry – the other day when I had 2 cado’s – 1 ready to eat, which I made like a egg salad sand just by mixing it with some salt & siracha sauce & spread it on some oat nut bread – DELISH E OSO ! Once the other ripened I just sliced it and sprinkled some coarse sea salt on top – I found that rather delicious as well.
      PS…thank you Aldi’s for having then at such good prices. It really helps when you want to eat/snack healthy on a limited budget !

  37. kelli says

    how do the stores where you are buying the avocados feel about this. it is a great tip but i am concerned that the produce workers seeing us doing this might not be too happy. any experiences with this so far? i once got yelled at a store for touching the strawberries, ridiculous, because we all touch the fruit to see if we want to buy it, but it has made me reluctant to over- handle the produce and flicking off the tops of the avos may upset some store workers. what do you guys think?

    • says

      Good point. Here’s my feeling: if you flick the stem and it looks good, for God’s sake buy that one. Don’t just flick for fun. Then, you’ve taken the avocado you’ve “marked” and no harm is done. If it’s black, then the avo wasn’t good anyway and maybe you just saved someone else from buying an icky avo.

      I’d also say, if the produce people aren’t actively trying to sell you on the fruit and veg at that store, find a better store. At the Yuppie-Hippie market where I shop, the kids are given free fruit just for coming in and the people in that department will give you a slice of anything so you can try before you buy. You pay for it, in the sense that the produce is more expensive right off, but you also know your *real* cost per pound won’t double because you have to throw away half of what you bought.

      That said, obviously only do what’s in your comfort zone. I don’t want to encourage people to get in fisticuffs with their local market. :)

  38. Luella says

    thanks for the tip Iam in northern Wisconsin what a great tip and I love them but hard to find a good one

  39. says

    Thanks for the tip! I have noticed that avocados with a redish tint to the skin never seem to fail to be excellent. Also, I’ve noticed that the more bumpy the better. Thanks again!

    • says

      I know I’m posting this 3 years after your post, but I had to just say that I completely agree with this – I’ve been eating these great avacados with a redish tint to the skin lately, and I loved it so much that I felt compelled to do a search on these redish avacados. If you can find them, they taste the best by far!

  40. says

    A way to get your avocado’s to ripen faster is by putting them in a paper bag. My fresh green avocado’s have been ripe within 3 days or less with this method!

  41. Bipolar Bear says

    Not only am I glad I found this post, I’m glad I read through the comments. The stringy veins one finds in the avocado ruins the texture too. I never knew that they were the avocado sprouting. As far as the brown under the stub of the fruit: will it predict bruises and brownness not under the stub? My Mom taught me about ripening avocados in paper bags. Certain fruits ripen that way too. Even she didn’t know this particular tip so I just shared it with her. Thank you!

  42. says

    My love for avocados began in Hawaii when my husband and I were there for our wedding/honeymoon. Several locals at the shops couldn’t wait to share their bounty and we indulged to the fullest! The horse staying at our rental property loved avocados too!

  43. says

    I love avocados and I love this tip! I’ve been using it for the past couple of weeks and it’s right on. I’ll be sharing your article with my blog readers, because avocados are one of the healthiest foods out there.

  44. says

    G’day, I live in an area in Queensland where there are many avocado plantations; yet, I too pay $2.50 per avocado at the supermarket and often have to discard the fruit. Not now, I hope with this simple tip. Thanks.

  45. Misty says

    I buy my avacados while they are green and still very firm. They ripen quickly without bruises and are fully ripe when the skin has turned black. Squeezing the avacados at the store causes them to bruise. I’ve seen peole squeezing the avacados after they have turned black for tenderness and this is a big no no. Also please, don’t pick the little cap loose. The avacado fruit is exposed in doing this and will be spoiled (start rotting) for someone else if you don’t buy it. I too had to learn how to determine how to buy them without all those nasty bruises. I cringe when I see people squeezing already ripe avacados.

  46. says

    Good article and I like your pictures. As other people have mentioned, it’s really annoying to see people squeezing avocados as this will leave black bruises. It’s better to ripen them at home but your method seems far less intrusive, particularly if you’re going to buy it if it passes the test. If it doesn’t, then I guess it would have been bad anyway.

  47. Cyndi says

    …….and if you happen to come across an avocado that isn’t ripe, but doesn’t have its bellybutton a/k/a stem, melt wax into the hole and the avocado will ripen properly without the stem end rotting!!

  48. Sharon Green says

    Just some further tips from Oz – never put ripening avocados near other fruit – the enzymes they give off causes the avocados to ripen unevenly and you open a gorgeous looking avocado on the outside to find it full of brown spots! Put them somewhere by themselves to ripen! Since I have been doing that, I have not had one single avocado go bad on me! As soon as they reach that slight give stage around the top they go in the fridge. I can’t live without my breakfast toast with avocado – as a coeliacs sufferer it’s the only thing that makes gluten free toast taste good lol!

  49. Tove says

    Thank you! Oh, my have I been irritated and angry at supermarkets for this issue. I know it’s wrong, but they are incredible expensive here in Norway too, so when living on a tight student’s budget it is so disappointing when you can’t eat what you’ve bought. I will try to use this trick from now on. Hope it works! :)

  50. Elizabeth says

    BTW, just tried this this weekend. Thought oh , now I can pick a good avocado. No, was green on the 4 one I picked the nub out of but when got it home probably was able to salvage only about 1/3 of it. Had brown streaks all through it.

  51. Pigbitin Mad says

    Definitely going to try this. Makes me very mad when I buy three avocados and get a thimbleful of usable flesh out of it.

  52. says

    Thanks for the tip. This worked really well for me. This is an excellent and simple way. You’ve just made my shopping that much easier!

  53. Chris C. says

    Great tips! I came here as a result of a Google search… After many years I had abandoned the very idea of ever getting good avocados (most of them turning brown or never ripening right) and only eat them in restaurants because I have had so little success with them, so it’s great to know about the stem tip, the pointy end tip, the OK to buy rock hard tip (I didn’t know avocados can ripe normally on a shelf!) and the refrigeration after ripening tip. The power of the Internet never ceases to amaze me :)

    But could you please consider that not everyone has perfect vision (I notice you are young and don’t wear glasses, Erica) and consider using a more legible font than this pale gray Times-like font that is so hard to read and seems to be the in-thing to do on so many web sites of late? One could think you’re afraid of speaking out ;)

    Chris in the Great White North (Definitely NOT avocado country ;)

  54. says

    You have no idea how much disappointment you’ve saved me with this tip. I used to live in California and I was accustomed to fresh, perfect avocados all the time, so I never really learned how to check them. Now that I’m on the east coast avocados are *such* a gamble. This is seriously going to improve my culinary life, thank you so much.

  55. says

    This is an interesting tip. I’ll give it a try. I’m one of those who are annoyed at finding so many avocados without their stems and the exposed area already a woody, barky brown. Conversely, I dislike finding spring green avocados that are as hard as iron that take a week to ripen on my window ledge. I make my shopping list and menu at the beginning of the week and find myself having to shift meals around when the avocados aren’t ripe yet.

    (Something else I dislike is when I buy a bag of avocados and they are hard for days then suddenly all ripen at once! It’s a challenge to fit that many avocados into a few meals LOL)

    Here’s something I noticed: different cultures enjoy avocados at different stages of ripeness. I like mine picture perfect, yet I’ve seen some of my many friends of different cultures enjoy them rock hard all the way down to just-about-ready-to-rot.

  56. says

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  57. says

    AMAZING! Funny is I JUST noticed this today with my Avocados on my counter, 2 days ago, beautiful, today I noticed EXACTLY what you show in this pic, i was sad I had to compost them instead. we did taste them first, not good!

    I also just linked this picture up on post of mine I had written this morning, you can find it here

    Just Until I get more avocados and take my own picture!

    Thanks for a great tip!!

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  59. henry says

    Great tip. PLUS even if you buy them hard and then wait you can eat them at just the right moment. It’s harder to buy for tonight!!!


  1. […] I pinned this little tip a few weeks ago, and since then I have used it several times.  Each time it has proven to be correct, so I’m putting my seal of approval on it and sharing it with you today We love guacamole or “green stuff” in our house, so I buy avocados frequently.  I wish we had our own tree, because they aren’t cheap! This little trick will keep you from wasting your money by purchasing an overripe avocado, or having to wait three weeks to finally eat the little green “rock” you ended up buying.  Try it out the next trip to the grocery store! Thanks,  Northwest Edible Life! […]

  2. […] Ik had twee avocados* liggen die, indien niet supersnel geconsumeerd, overtijd zouden gaan. Ze waren zwart van schil (which is good) en begreep dat als je er een beetje in kon knijpen, dat ze dan rijp zijn. Nu vond ik een tip, die altijd blijkt te werken (zelf nog niet kunnen testen, gezien de avocados dus supersnel geconsumeerd werden). Blijkt dat als je naar de onderkant kijkt ervan, waar dat rondje zit (for lack of the right word) dat je aan de kleur ervan kunt afleiden of-ie rijp is of niet. Groen/geel is goed, zwart is bad, very bad. (Niet de schil, maar dat rondje dus) Je kunt hier de afbeeldingen en uitleg zien, uitleg in afbeeldingen, avocado afgebeeld met uitleg.  […]

  3. […] 2) Perfectly Ripe Avocados are also essential for making the best guacamole ever! But how many times have you squeezed an avocado in the market and thought it was perfect, only to discover big-ole brown spots once you cut it open. Boo! That’s such a bummer! Good news – there’s actually a very easy way to tell if an avocado is perfect, here’s how. […]

  4. […] 2. Never buy a rotten avocado again – How did it take me so many years to learn this little trick? It. is. genius.  Yeah, I felt a little creepy picking up 20 avocados and looking under the stem, but you better believe it was worth it when I cut into that perfectly yellowish-green deliciousness. […]

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