How to Make the Most of an Avocado

If you love avocados as much as we do, you know that making the most of your avocados is a top priority. But keeping avocado fresh, choosing the right ones and preserving them is easier said than done.

How to keep avocados fresh

How to choose and treat avocados, both whole and cut, for optimal freshness.

Photos via CakeSpy

To help you make the most of your avocados, we’ve created this handy guide including tips and tricks for effectively choosing the right avocado, hastening or slowing down the ripening process, and proper storage techniques. You’ll never eat under-ripe or overly mushy avocado again! 

Avocados

Choosing an avocado 

So, you’re in the grocery store or at the farmers market, and you want to buy an avocado. What should you look for? 

Before you buy, consider when you’ll be using your avocado.

For instance, if you want to make guacamole 20 minutes after you purchase the fruit, you’ll want to choose one that is very ripe and soft. If it’s for a cooking project this weekend, you’ll want to choose a firmer variety that can ripen over the next few days, so that it peaks when you’re ready to use it. 

Typically, there are two indicators of ripeness for avocados: color and softness. 

Color

In terms of color, avocados can range from a deep green color to a purplish-black. Typically, they will darken as they ripen, giving the first indication of ripeness. But color isn’t always the best indicator of ripeness, so you want to feel your avocado too.

Softness 

Once you’ve found an avocado that looks about right, give it a (gentle) squeeze and see how it feels. Place the avocado in your hand, and apply just enough pressure with your fingers to ascertain how firm or soft it is, but not so much pressure that you could bruise the fruit. Here’s what various levels of ripeness feel like:

  • Unripe avocado: If the avocado doesn’t give at all to your pressure, it is considered unripe, and needs some more time to ripen, which can take between 2 and 5 days.
  • Almost ripe avocado: If your avocado is firm but has a little bit of give, it’s closer to ripe and may require just a day or two to attain peak ripeness. Some people prefer their avocados a bit more firm, but the skin might cling a little bit more to slightly less ripe avocados, making prep a little trickier. 
  • Avocado at peak ripeness: Peak ripeness for an avocado is when the avocado gives without feeling too firm, but also doesn’t feel mushy. This texture has the best flavor, and the skin will loosen from the fruit most easily.
  • Over-ripe avocado: If your avocado is mushy and feels soft even under the lightest of pressure, your avocado is likely overripe and past its prime. 
Avocado, whole

How to make an avocado ripen faster

Say you want to use your avocados to make guacamole for tomorrow, but they are still quite firm. What can you do?

According to Avocado Central, your best bet is to put your under-ripe avocados in a brown paper bag along with an apple or a banana. Apples and bananas contain ethylene, which triggers the ripening process. This will make your avocados ready to eat sooner!

Slowing down the ripening process

If your avocados are unripe and you want to keep them that way for a while longer, store the uncut avocados in your refrigerator. This slows down the ripening process and makes the avocados last a couple of days longer than if they were at room temperature.

Keeping Avocado Fresh in Slices

How to stop an avocado from browning

Avocados have the tendency to turn brown after you slice them open. This is a naturally occurring oxidation that is a result of breaking down the fruit’s cellular walls.

To reduce this oxidation and avoid browning, you must introduce an acidic ingredient to counteract it. Acidic ingredients include lemon, lime or orange juices. You could also use vinegar, tomato, or onion. Sprinkle or rub the exposed fruit surface with your chosen acidic ingredient, then place it in an airtight container. Place the container in the refrigerator. It will keep for 1-2 days. 

Keeping avocado fresh in storage

Because the oxidation occurs on the exposed surfaces of the avocado fruit, it’s easiest to store avocado that’s only partially sliced — for instance, half an avocado still in the skin. Avocado it can be stored in slices, too. 

Our best avocado recipes

Need a few ideas to use up some extra avocado? We’ve got plenty of tasty recipes:

Want more avocado goodness?

Avocados are a key ingredient in flavorful and healthful cuisine. To take your cooking to the next level, check out Craftsy course Flavor Comes First: Healthy Meals That Taste Delicious. Along with famed chef and registered dietitian Ellie Krieger, you’ll master simple strategies for cooking meals that are both indulgently delicious and good for you. 

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