WITH so many varieties of avocados available at different stages of ripeness, it can be a daunting task to find the right one.

Mt Binga Orchards employee Sharon Ogden said it's possible to identify how ripe an avocado is.

"Obviously you pick them up at the supermarket when they are green and hard," she said.

This is what she calls stage one for avocados purchased from supermarkets, and consumers should wait for the avocado to ripen before eating.

Stage two is when the fruit starts to colour, but is still quite hard.

"This is about three days after you get them farm fresh at the supermarkets," Ms Ogden said.

About four or five days after their farm-fresh stage at the supermarkets, the avocados become soft, brown and squishy.

"That's when they are ripe and ready to go," she said.

This is the case for varieties such as the Hass avocado, which has a darker skin when it is ripe.

The Sharwill variety, also known as the greenskin, goes soft but not brown.

"Sharwill from the supermarket, you have to look for a firm skin and when it ripens, it all goes soft," Ms Ogden said.

There are five official stages of ripeness for avocados, starting with 'hard' when they are first picked off the tree.

The second stage is 're-conditioned' as the avocado starts to ripen, with a slight give when a strong thumb pressure is applied.

The next stage is called 'breaking', which is good for retail, where the fruit deforms up to 3mm with a moderate thumb pressure.

The fourth stage is termed 'firm ripe', and is good for slicing and ready to eat.

The final stage of the ripening process is called 'ripe', when the avocado deforms easily with gentle hand pressure.

To make an avocado ripen quicker, place a banana with it.