So, you bought an avocado to make guacamole or a sandwich or ice cream. But, where's the best place to keep it? And what happens if you have half leftover? Today, we're going back to the basics on how to store an avocado—from when to keep at room temp to how to tell if it's ripe. Let's get started.
Where is the best place to store an avocado?
Trick question: It depends on whether the avocado is ripe (see more on that below). Unripe avocados should be kept at room temperature, where they will gradually soften. Ripe avocados should be eaten immediately, or moved to the fridge where the chilly temperature will extend their shelf life by several days.
How do I know if an avocado is ripe?
Give it a (soft! gentle!) squeeze. The area around the stem should slightly give, like a bouncy stress ball. It should not feel puffy or mushy—that means it's gone too far. Check in every day to determine whether you should eat or transfer it to the fridge.
I want toast now. Can I speed up the ripening process at all?
A little. We advise buying firm avocados from the supermarket to increase your odds of avoiding brown mush. (The walk/bike/drive home can be trecherous for this fragile fruit.) That said, if you need an avocado ASAP, you can encourage its ripening by bundling in a brown bag for a couple days (add in a banana for good luck).
What if I want to save half an avocado for later?
A common conundrum. The most common piece of advice is to leave the pit in the avocado half, or rather, use the pitted half first. However, while the parts of flesh that are in contact with the pit stay fresh, the rest of the avocado easily browns. This is simply because the pit is blocking air from reaching part of the flesh. So, to keep the exposed avocado from browning, we have to mimic what the pit does and create alternative barriers. Though avocado halves will always brown to some degree, the following methods kept the fruit green, longer.
The Onion Method
Roughly chop a quarter of a red onion into large chunks. Line the bottom of a sealable container with the onion pieces, then place the avocado half cut side-up on top. Seal the container and keep in the fridge. According to The Kitchn, this is likely due to the vapors that onions emit. Luckily, because the skin is the only part of the avocado in contact with the onion, the flesh won't take on any flavor. And you can save the onions for later use!
The Olive Oil Method
Brush the avocado half with olive oil (pick one without a strong flavor). The oil will keep the flesh from coming in direct contact with the air, preventing oxidization. After brushing with the oil, store the avocado in an airtight container in the fridge.
The Lemon Juice Method
You can also brush your avocado's flesh with lemon juice—the citric acid in the lemon juice dramatically slows the browning process. Again, store in an airtight container for extra protection.
Can you freeze avocados?
Food52er Sarah Jampel tried her luck—freezing both avocado halves and avocado mash—and wouldn't recommend it. While the browning was certainly stalled, the texture was completely compromised. "The avocados were simultensouly mushy, slimy, and spongy," she writes. "Sure, you can 'save' an avocado in the freezer for later. But I'd argue that you're condemming it to a certain doom." Noted!
Should I put bananas on my avocado toast?
We thought you'd never ask. Of course. Video below, Genius recipe right here.
This article was originally published in 2014. We updated it with even more avocado tips and tricks. How do you keep avocados from turning brown? Tell us in the comments!