Avocados, which were pretty much unknown in the West before the 1970s, have enjoyed a surge in popularity lately, and everything from avocado toast to guacamole and breakfast dishes can be prepared using this tasty ingredient. But what's the best way to store those avocados? Should whole avocados be kept at room temperate or in the fridge? Let's take a closer look at this versatile ingredient and find out.
One reason we have all taken avocados to our hearts lately is their nutritional benefits. They are a great source of fiber, potassium, folate, and Vitamins B6, C, and E. Avocados are high in fat, but it's monounsaturated fat which is the "good" kind.
They're also relatively high in calories (50 calories per ounce) which is why many people only choose to eat a quarter or third of an avocado at a time. Once you know how to store an avocado though, you will be able to keep it fresh for several days even after cutting into it.
Something I love to do is make my own guacamole. Yes, I know you can buy it readymade from the grocery store, but homemade is so much better! I puree avocado at peak ripeness with lime juice, onion, tomatoes, cilantro, jalapenos, garlic, and a pinch of salt. It's so easy and really delicious with tortilla chips.
What are Avocados?
Avocados (Persea Americana) have green or black thick skin and green flesh with a large pit in the middle. Other names for avocados include butter fruit and alligator pears. Native to Central America and Mexico, they're grown in many countries these days.
Although some people believe avocados are a fruit while others think they're a vegetable, they're actually a berry and related to the cinnamon tree. This versatile ingredient can be used in sweet and savory recipes. Try adding some to your next strawberry milkshake recipe to thicken it up and add a complementary flavor - you'll be amazed at how well it goes.
There are hundreds of different types of avocados, including Hass (the most common kind you find in the grocery store), Gem, Gwen, Fuerte, Reed, and Pinkerton, to name just a few. Avocado skins range from smooth to pebbly depending on variety, and the pits also vary in shape and size. Of course, the avocados themselves range from round(ish) to long and thin, and some tend to be larger than others.
How to Select the Best Avocados
You can't tell whether an avocado is ripe or not just by looking at the color, since some naturally have a darker peel. You also need to check the texture. An avocado that feels rock hard isn't ripe.
Avocados are picked before they ripen, which is why you can find both ripe and not-quite-ripe varieties in the store. As a general rule, avocados which are darker are more likely to be ripe.
Squeeze the avocado gently to check its firmness. If it yields to gentle pressure, it's ripe, meaning it's ready to consume. Avoid any which have big indentations because this probably means they're bruised. Also, avoid any that feel mushy since they're way beyond their prime.
When are you planning to eat them? If you're buying avocados to make guacamole in several days, for example, then choose slightly under-ripe ones so they'll be perfectly ripe when you make the recipe. This is one of my favorite ways to prepare a delicious dip using the flesh of the avocado as my main ingredient.
How to Store Avocados
Since you might want to use only some of the avocado at once, it's essential to know how to store avocados that have been partially used. It's also handy to know how to keep whole avocados fresh for longer. The main concern of many avocado fans is they can be perfectly ripe one day and squishy in parts the next!
- A very firm whole avocado should ripen in 4 or 5 days. Keep these at room temperature (between 65°F and 75°F is ideal) or, if you want them to ripen faster, put them in a paper bag with a banana or apple. Keep them out of direct sunlight.
- An unripe avocado should ripen in a day or so and should be kept at a warm or cool temperature between 65°F and 75°F.
- A softer whole avocado can be enjoyed immediately or kept refrigerated in crisper drawers for an extra day or 2 to slow down further ripening.
- An over-ripe whole avocado will feel mushy and should be thrown out.
- A sliced or chopped avocado should be wrapped in foil or a plastic bag and kept in the fridge. Squeeze as much air out as you can first and use it the next day if you can.
Another option is to freeze avocados. To do this, put whole uncut avocados in a Ziploc freezer bag and freeze them for up to 6 months. Alternatively, cut them in half and discard the avocado skin. Leave the pit in place. Sprinkle a little lemon juice on the cut part. Wrap the avocado halves in plastic wrap, transfer them into a freezer bag, and freeze.
Finally, you can freeze chopped fresh avocado. Freeze the chunks on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet for an hour then transfer them into a freezer bag. For mashed avocado, add a tablespoon of lemon or some citrus juice then freeze in freezer-safe bags or an airtight container. Thaw frozen avocado overnight in the refrigerator.
How to Tell if Avocados are Spoiled
Avocados that are rotten will have dark skins and be soft and mushy. They might also smell rancid or sour. Rotten avocados might be moldy or brown inside. If some of the avocado flesh is still green and firm, you can just cut off the bad part, but if all or most is bad, you should throw it away. An avocado that is just a tiny bit brown inside should be safe to consume but won't taste as good as a perfectly fresh one.
You know when you peel an apple, it turns brown after a while? Well, the same is true of avocados. Even a perfectly ripe avocado will turn into a brown avocado on the cut flesh when exposed to the air. So, unless you're going to eat or use the avocados right away, brush or spray citrus juice on the cut parts.
So you just enjoyed some delicious thinly sliced avocado on hot buttered toast. What are you going to do with the rest of it? How about making guacamole or adding it to your next smoothie? Another idea is wrapping it in aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or an airtight plastic bag and enjoying some more avocado toast tomorrow!
- An avocado has a lot of potassium, nearly double that of a banana in fact!
- The word "guacamole" comes from "ahuacamolli" which in Aztec means avocado soup.
- 90% of the United States avocado crop is produced in California.
Whether your avocados are partway through the ripening process or you have a beautiful green avocado that is perfectly ripe, it's important to know the shelf life expected as well as how to store avocados to keep them fresh. The creamy, rich pulp of avocados can be used in so many recipes and avocado slices can grace anything from an elegant salad to a slice of toast.