Maintaining quality avocados
Attention points for quality avocados
General appearanceEach avocado variety has his own characteristics such as fruit size, shape, colour and texture. Of course, this can differ between individual fruits. The fruits are more attractive without defects such as insect damage, punctures, bruises, and especially decay
Flesh textureThe firmness of an avocado contributes to the consumer's final judgement. One of the most obvious texture changes during ripening is loss of firmness. A firmness test of the flesh can be done with a fruit penetrometer after a piece of skin has been peeled. Also the creaminess of the flesh is important quality aspect, which has to do with the oil content of the avocado. The texture varies between avocado cultivars. Some varieties are already quite soft before they are optimal to eat, but other varieties remain more firm.
Skin and pulp colourAvocados can have different skin colours. It will be affected by variety, ripeness stage and growing conditions. At harvest most of them are green, however some cultivars if harvested late in season will show a darkened skin. Some cultivars will remain green, others will turn purple/black. Pulp colour is also dependent on cultivar. Chilling injury may become visible internal (greyish brown discolouration) and externally (irregular black skin patches)
Flavour is, of course, an important characteristic of fruit quality. An avocado has generally a very mild flavour. The concentration of fatty acids is one of the major contributors to the perception of good flavour. The amount of sugars and organic acids are low in avocados and have limited impact on the flavour. Abuse CA storage (>10%CO2 or <1% O2) will promote the development of off-flavours.
Disorders and diseases
A good quality avocado is free of defects and diseases. Bruises or skin injuries reduce appearance, but also increase water loss (weight loss) and respiration, which can speed up firmness loss and senescence. Defects also provide access routes for pathogens that lead to decay. Disorders are not always visible from the outside. Cutting the fruit may reveal internal discoloration or flesh breakdown.