If there is any fruit in the world that is known for becoming unripe at incredulous speeds, it is the avocado. Just about everyone who works with avocados in their meals knows the feeling of checking on the avocados that were bought just the other day, only to realize that they have become too ripe to properly use.
While you cannot necessarily halt the ripening process, there are ways that you can slow it down enough that you won’t have to give a second thought about them ripening too fast.
The way that you go about trying to keep your avocados from ripening will depend on the condition of the avocado. In some cases, you can drastically expand the amount of time you can keep your avocado by purposefully purchasing an unripe avocado and then waiting it out.
Other times, if you have already purchased the avocado, you can work with it to preserve the amount of time it can last. If you’re careful, you can even keep a cut avocado fresh for an additional day or two, and in the world of avocado ripeness, this is a long time.
Because of how many different ways you can keep your avocado from ripening, the exact method that you choose to rely on will depend almost entirely on your avocado.
To begin learning how to keep your avocado as long-lasting as possible, you will first want to learn the best ways to test for ripeness without damaging the avocado.
Checking the Ripeness of the Avocado
Avocados are incredibly delicate fruits, which can make it somewhat difficult to work with when you are trying to gauge what their ripeness is. While most people will go by the color of the avocado, this isn’t always accurate and can lead to problems when you are beginning to prepare your meals.
First things first, everyone knows that perfectly ripe avocados will be very dark green, almost close to black in color. However, some unripe avocados may naturally be this dark, so color alone is not a good indication.
In some ways, color can really only tell you when certain avocados are unripe, as they will be bright melon-green.
Aside from the color of the avocado, you will want to check the softness of the avocado. This will be the best way to assume the ripeness of the fruit without actually cutting it open and looking at it.
Unripe avocados, even ones that are almost black in color, will not have a lot of give when you squeeze them gently. Remember, when you are squeezing the avocado, you should never grip it with your fingertips, or you can end up bruising it.
A ripe avocado is going to have some give to it, indicating that it should be used as soon as possible, especially considering how quickly avocados shift from being ripe to becoming rotten.
Another way that you can check is with the stem of the avocado, if the one that you purchased still has a stem attached to it. Underneath the stem, if the avocado is the traditional bright green color that you would see in guacamole, then you know that the avocado is ripe and ready to be used in your next meal.
Now that you know how to determine the ripeness of the avocado, you can begin learning the best ways to keep the avocado as fresh as possible, delaying the ripening process as much as one can, beginning with avocados that were purchased at a young, unripe stage.
Working with Young Avocados
When you are trying to keep young, firm avocados as fresh as possible, the easiest thing that you can do is going to be to put them in the fridge. Putting them in the fridge when they are young and not quite on their way to ripeness is a lot more effective because of how much the environment of the fridge can slow down the ripening process.
In a way, when you are stopping the problem early, you have a lot more time to wait for the avocado to fully ripen, allowing you to make use of other foods first. Typically, keeping young avocados in the fridge allows them to last up to two weeks before you should consider eating them.
In fact, when avocados are still a light green on the outside and quite firm to the touch, you can leave them on the countertop for up to five days, assuming the environment in your house is not particularly humid or hot.
This is going to be the most natural way to let your avocados ripen, making for the best taste, but it also means going out of your way to find avocados that haven’t begun to ripen at all.
Finding avocados in this stage of life can be difficult, simply because most stores do not sell avocados that are this young. If you grow avocados, have a local farmer’s market, or so on, you may be able to find avocados that are in this stage, but otherwise, you may have to stick with handling avocados that run the risk of becoming overripe in a matter of one or two days.
Working with Standard Avocados
Most of the avocados that you would purchase from the store are going to be avocados that will become overripe in a matter of two days or less. This isn’t a lot of time to make use out of the avocado if you do not have a dish planned in the immediate future.
Thankfully, there are still ways that you can make use of your quickly ripening avocados to ensure that you can have a little bit more time to fix the perfect meal for them. One such way that you can prevent the avocado from ripening is to blanche it.
Blanching an avocado physically destroys the enzymes in it that cause the avocado to go brown and become overripe as fast as it does. This enzyme is known as polyphenol oxidase, and it is responsible for the brown coloring that sets in within hours after you cut an avocado open.
By blanching the avocado, you will be able to make use of it for a fair bit before it would normally begin to turn brown. You will still want to work relatively quickly, but if you need some time to fully prepare your avocado recipe, blanching the avocado might be the save that you need.
If you do not know what blanching is, it is the process of very quickly submerging the fruit or vegetable in question into boiling water for anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes before rapidly putting it onto ice to halt the cooking process.
The idea of this method is to heat the product up just enough to get rid of something, such as water content or a specific enzyme, and then putting it on ice so it does not heat up further and begin to cook.
This will then allow you to do other things with the food in question, such as putting it in the freezer for storage (for foods that cannot handle the harsh environment of the freezer) or preserving the food and allowing it to last longer.
For avocados, when you dip them into the boiling water, you will not want to keep them submerged for more than 10 seconds at a time, but you will also need to be mindful and not submerge them for less than 10 seconds either.
If more than 10 seconds passes, your avocado will begin to cook, which will change the texture and taste accordingly, which can mess with what recipe plans you had in mind. If less than 10 seconds passes, then the enzymes that you are trying to kill off will not die, rendering the whole process moot.
Once the 10 seconds passes, you will immediately want to put the avocado onto ice. Because avocados have substance inside of them, both the actual meat of the avocado and the pit, it will continue cooking even if it is not directly in the boiling water, which is not what you want to have happen.
By putting them on the ice as soon as you take them out of the water, you can halt that internal cooking process, allowing the avocado to reach the desired state without continuing to cook.
Now that you have successfully blanched the avocado, you can either store it for later, knowing that it will last a little bit longer before it would normally begin to brown, or you can begin making use of it now.
A freshly blanched avocado can last up to four hours being cut open and left on the counter before beginning to brown, which is a fair amount longer than an unblanched avocado would last in the same position.
In some cases, the browning may begin sooner, and this will often be due to the fact that the avocado had already reached its “overly ripe” phase before you began blanching.
The timing of working with avocados is paramount to being able to make use of them. Once you know what to do with your avocados, and when you should begin working with them, you can feel confident in knowing that you will not have to see an overripe avocado again for a long, long time.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.