Avocados are fickle. Sometimes, they seem to be ready for consumption but then hard as a rock when cut into. Other times, avocados look like they’ll be rotten before you get them home. This unpredictability isn’t just expensive ($1.25 each for medium, $2.50 each for large at my local supermarket as I write); it also contributes to wasted food.
There’s no magic gadget that will tell you when an avocado has ripened fully, but there are ways to help your avocados last longer so they’re ready for guacamole or toast toppings. Depending on several factors, including how ripe your avocado is and what you plan to use it for, there are different ways to store avocados.
Is It Ripe?
The avocado’s color is a great place to start. The darker the color, the riper the fruit. Unripe avocados will usually be bright green with smoother skin. If you’ll be using them right away, look for dark, bumpy skin that’s changing to a purple hue.
The touch test is a good way to find out how ripe an avocado is. With your thumb, gently apply pressure at the end where the stem was attached. If the fruit’s flesh does not yield to the gentle but firm touch, then the avocado is not ripe. Look at the brown nub where the avocado was attached to the stem. If it falls off easily when touched, it’s ripe. If it is still holding on tightly, it will be ripe in one or two days.
How to Store a Whole Avocado
If you’ve bought an unripe avocado in the hope that you can perfectly time your avocado toast craving, the best thing to do is to keep the avocado whole and place it on a countertop, away from any other fruits and vegetables.
Avocados usually last on your kitchen counter for four to five days before they spoil. Avocados are tricky, so it’s important to check them daily. If your avocado is fresh and ready to eat, you can put it in the fridge, where it will hold for several days. Put it in an airtight container or the produce drawer. If your avocado is in the produce drawer next to bananas or apples, the gas produced by these fruits will speed up its ripening process, so be sure to check it often.
How to Store Cut Avocado
Let’s say you cut into that ripe avocado, only to discover your eyes were bigger than your stomach. There are ways to keep a cut avocado from going bad too quickly.
If the avocado isn’t already diced or mashed, either cut it into cubes or mash it. Next, wrap it in plastic wrap, making sure the wrap covers the avocado directly and there are no air bubbles. This will help keep oxygen out of your avocado and stop it from turning brown. You may also want to add a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice.
You can also store half an avocado with the skin and pit intact. Leaving the skin on actually prevents oxidation and keeps the interior flesh fresh. You can buy some clever avocado storage solutions. Still, the easiest way to preserve half of an avocado is to rub some olive oil or lime juice on the avocado flesh, cover the entire thing (even the skin) with plastic wrap, and put it in the fridge. This will help prevent oxygen from seeping into the avocado and spoiling it and should keep it intact for two days.
You can also store half an avocado by placing it pit side down in an airtight container, with a little bit of water on the bottom. Water keeps the flesh and pits moist without speeding up the aging processes. You’ll likely notice some of the outer skin has turned brown, but you can easily remove it.
How to Freeze Avocado
Yes, ripe avocados can totally be frozen. There are a few ways to do that. Just understand that freezing an avocado reduces its creaminess, so although you can still use frozen avocados in guacamole and in smoothies, don’t plan to consume them plain.
To freeze an avocado, remove the pit and peel. After that, sprinkle some lemon or lime juice on the flesh and cover it tightly in plastic wrap. Even better, store the avocado in a sealed plastic bag or a vacuum seal.
If you plan to eat your frozen avocado straight out of the freezer, you’re better off pureeing or blending it first. Blend the avocado with a tablespoon of lemon or lime juice using a blender. Place the puree into an airtight freezer bag and store it in the freezer. It should last for about four months.
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