Avocados are one of those ingredients that fall into the ‘love or hate’ category. You either have them as a permanent fixture on your shopping list or you make a point to steer well clear of them while you walk the aisles of your grocery store.
If you’re in the avocado fan club, you’ll know that satisfying feeling of finding one that is perfectly ripe. However, you’ll also know that this is an incredibly rare situation and that 99% of the time the avocados on display in stores will need a little more at-home ripening before you can use them.
But how should you store avocados while you’re waiting for them to ripen? And how should they be stored once they are ready to be used?
There are a few methods for storing avocados, and each one is different depending on the level of ripeness they are currently at. Let’s explore more below!
The first thing to consider when looking at the best way to store your avocados is how ripe they are. Unlike other fruits and vegetables, determining whether an avocado is ripe is a little more difficult, and they don’t really give too much of an external indication.
This doesn’t mean it’s impossible, though. Here are a couple of things to look out for when you’re trying to work out how ripe your avocados are:
- Darker-skinned and almost black in color
- Will feel soft and squishy when you gently press into it
- Has a vibrant green color
- Will feel hard when gently pressed into
Different levels of ripeness won’t only determine how suitable your chosen avocados are for the recipe you’re creating, but will also have an effect on how you store them.
The best way to store unripe avocados is in their natural packaging. Their dark green, scaly skin will keep their jade-colored flesh perfectly preserved without any additional need for storage.
As soon as avocados are picked, they begin to produce ethylene and this triggers the ripening process. The best way to keep this ethylene production at the optimal level is to keep your avocados in a cool, dark place at around 68ºF outside of any container.
However, you can speed up the ripening process by storing your avocados in a paper bag under the same conditions. This will keep a higher level of ethylene surrounding the avocados and, in turn, cause them to ripen faster.
If you’ve got a fully-ripe avocado, you’ll have a very small window of opportunity to eat it before it goes over-ripe and that delicious, green flesh becomes black and unusable. Ripe avocados should not be stored in paper bags or containers as this will trap the ethylene and cause them to over-ripen even faster.
We all know that keeping fresh produce in a refrigerator is the best way to keep it fresher for longer. But is this the case for avocados? Again, this comes down to how ripe they are when you buy them.
Keeping ripe avocados in your refrigerator is a great way to keep them at the perfect, ready-to-use level of ripeness for an extended time as it will be too cold for them to produce ethylene.
This also means that, if your chosen avocados are yet to soften up, keeping them in your refrigerator will significantly delay the ripening process.
However, this is useful to know if you’re not planning on eating your avocados for a while. This is because you’ll be given an extended ripening window. So, if you’re only able to get to the grocery store on a bi-weekly basis, you won’t need to worry about your avocados going bad before you’re ready to eat them.
Perhaps you’re not planning on using your avocados for a really long time. Or, maybe you’ve got half an avocado left that you’d prefer not to throw away. In this case, you might want to know if it’s possible to freeze avocados?
Yes! You absolutely can. However, it’s not as easy as simply throwing it into your deep freeze. There are a couple of steps you’ll need to take to keep your avocados in their best condition throughout the freezing process.
Begin by cutting your avocado in half and carefully removing its stone. Once you’ve done that, follow the steps below:
- Place each half of your avocado on a plate facing upwards so that their flesh is exposed.
- Take half a lemon and squeeze the juice from it over both halves of your avocado. If you’re freezing more than one avocado, you’ll need more lemons. Generally speaking, you should allocate half a lemon to each whole avocado.
- Next, wrap each avocado half in plastic wrap, place them onto a plate, and put them in the freezer overnight.
- The next day, remove them from the plate and place them into a freezer bag. Squeeze as much air out of the bag as you can, and then put the bag containing your avocados back into the freezer.
This process is known as ‘flash freezing’, and following this method as outlined above will allow you to keep your avocados frozen for up to six months. It’s also perfect if you’ve got an abundance of ripe avocados that you don’t know what to do with!
You might be asking yourself “What’s the lemon thing about?”. Although squeezing lemon juice might seem a bit of a confusing step, the acidity prevents the avocados from turning brown when you thaw them. The sharpness of the juice also becomes muted during the freezing process, so you won’t need to worry about your avocados absorbing a lemon-flavor.
Avocados are a highly versatile kitchen ingredient. From making guacamole to chocolate mousse, they have a wide range of uses. Keeping them fresh can be a struggle though. However, by storing them in the best way for their level of ripeness, you’ll be able to extend their shelf life and ensure they’re ready to use whenever you need them.