A New Scanning Device Could One Day Help You Pick The Best Avocados

For some produce, ripeness is a subjective window. Consider the banana. There are those who enjoy the tangy, starchy qualities of a greener banana, while others like a dark, splotchy banana singing with sweetness. Then there are those fruits and vegetables that have a much narrower and agreed-upon period of ripeness. For example, tomatoes, especially those fresh from the garden, can pass from firm and flavorless to mushy and off-putting quickly.

But there are few fruits that have as fickle a period of ripeness as the avocado. They can spend what seems like an eternity sitting on your kitchen counter rock hard and flavorless, then, seemingly in the span of an afternoon, become overly soft and ridden with brown spots and off-putting strings — which Health.com points out are actually just vascular bundles of the fruit.

As we've noted, there are a few in-store tricks if you're looking to purchase a ready-to-eat avocado, such as digging deep into the display and peeling off the stem for a color check. But a new device might soon render all of that moot as it promises to bring science to bear on the age-old quest for the tastiest fruits and veggies.

Peeking behind the peel

As reported in Food & Wine, the Apeel RipeFinder promises to "peek behind the peel" of avocado and offer consumers insight into its current state and when it will be optimal to eat. The device looks much like a barcode scanner, and, when an avocado is placed upon it, shines a strong beam of light through the skin. The reflection of that light is then read by the machine, which translates the data into easy-to-understand language, i.e. "Your avocado is ready for your salad" or "Your avocado will be ready in four to five days."

The RipeFinder is powered by A.I. and informed by data gathered through field analysis of thousands of avocados collected across a variety of growing seasons, blooms, and countries. While the RipeFinder is currently in testing and only works with avocados, the company says that plans are in the works for the technology to be applied to limes, mangoes, and mandarins.

The device is in keeping with the mission of Apeel, explains a press release, which is to target and work towards eliminating causes of food waste in the produce distribution supply chain. To that end, they have created an edible, vegetable-based coating to protect and prolong the shelf-life of fruits and vegetables. They're also testing a similar ripeness-scanning device aimed at produce distributors that they claim is five times faster than current methods and is not damaging to the produce itself.