Avocado

How to Store an Avocado, So You Don’t End Up With Brown Mush

January 21, 2020
Photo by Ty Mecham

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. 

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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!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Jim Bellomo
    Jim Bellomo
  • Rickford
    Rickford
  • Jane
    Jane
  • Stan-Lease LLC
    Stan-Lease LLC
  • Linda B
    Linda B
Student, aimless wanderer of grocery store aisles, almond butter's number one fan.

67 Comments

Jim B. July 31, 2020
I have found that Saran Wrap pressed firmly onto the surface of a cut avocado does great in letting it last longer in the refrigerator. I also do this when I make guacamole. When doing that, don't just cover the bowl the guacamole is in, you have to press the wrap right down on the guac.
 
Rickford June 2, 2020
I store my avocados in a paper bag and place the bag in the fridge. Avocados will still be good over a week later.
 
Jane January 31, 2020
I cringed when I read to gently squeeze the avocado. (I know, you said "gently," but still...) My pet peeve is finding brown finger print spots inside beautiful avocados that I have just purchased. For this reason I always buy hard, unripe avocados and let them ripen at home because they are the least likely ones to have been damaged by overzealous shoppers. So if you want to squeeze avocados, please do so AFTER you've purchased them.
 
Stan-Lease L. January 30, 2020
I don’t buy the whole fruit. I do buy the small snack sized trays and packets of guac. I freeze them thaw them out as needed . I didn’t detect any decline of quality in the thawed out product. The processed fruit is freezable . Just my two cents.
 
Linda B. January 30, 2020
Thank you, thank you, thank you for the advice on where to feel the avocado to tell if it is ripe! I've been passing this tip along forever often to much skepticism. I grew up eating avocados from my grandfather's trees and was taught at an early age when to pick them how to store them and how to tell when they are ripe.
I always buy them rock hard. My counter is never without at least 2 avocados and my fridge likewise. Did I mention we eat a lot of avocados?
Our favorite salad is sliced avocados, white grapefruit segments on a bed of butter lettuce or other soft lettuce, drizzled with Dijon mustard tarragon vinaigrette and sprinkled with chopped green onions. Yum!
 
Risottogirl March 6, 2018
Don't cover it. Just put it in the fridge, it will form it's own protective skin. Also cut it around the middle holding it up.
 
mdelgatty February 2, 2020
What does this mean?
 
Lynda W. September 8, 2015
I'm glad to have come across this tip! Was just talking to friends on how to keep them green longer. I will try some of these out to find out which one will work the best for me and maybe you too!
 
Tedman September 3, 2015
The working assumption of this piece is wrong: not only do I consume the entire avocado in one meal, it *IS* the meal. Along with a sliced plum tomato, on occasion, just for variety.
 
Brenda August 1, 2015
Usually I eat the half of the avocado and keep the skin of the other half. Covered it back and put it into the fridge, you can also use the cling wrap to wrap it up.
 
marlene July 7, 2015
a thick smear of butter works well and then wrap in cling wrap.
 
Natalie S. July 6, 2015
i just use plastic wrap, but have it loose enough to make sure the wrap is touching the exposed skin. keeps for days.
 
Pam C. July 6, 2015
If you don't have a vacuum sealer just put the avocado half in a zip lock bag and seal the bag with a straw end inside and suck the excess air out then seal the bag. It will keep it from browning for at least a few days.
 
MRubenzahl July 6, 2015
"Leftover guacamole"?

Could happen, I suppose.
 
Julie W. July 6, 2015
Instead of lengthwise cut it in half crosswise - there is way less average Avocado exposed . I also put the leftover avocado in a container with half an onion , no need to cut it up - this keeps for a really long time
 
FerndaleFoodie July 6, 2015
I squeeze lemon or lime juice over the leftover avocado half and press plastic wrap right up against the flesh. Put it in an airtight container and it's good to go for another round.
 
Ol'ga K. July 6, 2015
In Cyprus we simply cover cut avocado with fresh lemon juice. Its enough for centuries now :)
 
Jerry C. June 26, 2015
I bought a kitchen aid called "Blue Apple" from The Grommet. It's made of blue plastic and comes with little packets (there are enough for a year) that you put in inside. Close the "Blue Apple" and put in your produce draw. I don't eat any brown on an avocado. I put the avocado in a zip lock bag, it may have a tad of brown which I cut off. Also, the uncut avocados don't get soft as quickly. They will last for several day. Oh, I paid $18 for it...well worth every penny.
 
EMELIA May 19, 2015
I LOVE AVOCADOS, AND IF HALF IS LIFT OVER I JUST CUT BROWN OFF
 
Teresa M. April 28, 2015
I make guacamole and if you push it into a pile in the middle of the dish then put plastic wrap directly on the guacamole. Touching it and push out air bubbles. This will keep it fresh for a couple days!! I find if I put oil or tomato into it, it browns fast. I add garlic, salt & lime juice
 
mbaird April 13, 2015
I cut them in half the short way, remove the pit (I know!), and stand them on a small plate with the cut side down. This cuts off the oxygen and prevents browning. But the freezer trick for bulk storage is going to change my life!