Tips & Techniques

A Trick for Transforming Unripe Avocados in Just Two Hours

September 15, 2015

We heard a suggestion to pickle unripe avocado slices and we had to try it ourselves. 

picled avocados

When we saw a Facebook post that suggested pickling hard avocados rather than waiting around for them to soften, reactions around the office ranged from skepticism to curiosity. But above all, we were hopeful: Waiting for an unripe, hard avocado to turn into creamy goodness is a test of anyone's patience—but what if we could quick-pickle the unripe fruit into something useful?

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Using a simple pickling brine, we sliced up some rock-hard specimens (so much easier to find than ripe ones!) and poured the liquid over them. Then, the avocados were left to sit in the fridge all weekend to pickle. We passed them around at our Monday morning editors' meeting to a hesitant bunch of tasters. A few announced "I don't hate them..." while most felt that they just tasted like vinegar. But the bigger issue was time: What good is it to pickle your hard avocados if it takes days? Might as well let them ripen and make toast. 

On the second try, we tried something more practical: We only let the hard avocado slices sit in their pickling liquid, in the fridge, for about two hours. This time, many agreed that, while there was still a vinegary bite, the unriped avocados tasted like, well, avocados! Plus, they were softer, without that strange raw flavor that characterizes hard ones.

Our takeaway: A quick pickle (around two hours) makes an unripe avocado slice softer and tastier, transforming it into something you can actually use in the kitchen. As with many pickles, the flavor of the solution does in some ways eclipse the flavor of the fruit itself, but in this case that's a good thing.

While we can't imagine making guacamole from a batch of avocado pickles (too tart!), they could be used as a condiment wherever avocado and pickles might—atop tacos, in a grain bowl, amongst slices of cheddar in a grilled cheese, or slipped into a steaming soup. 

So next time you pick up a hard avocado and just can't wait to use it, consider soaking the slices in a quick brine. You might even like avocado pickles enough to shop for hard avocados on purpose! 

Would you eat pickled avocado? What other foods have you tried to preserve? Tell us in the comments below!

First photo by author; second photo by James Ransom

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Taylor Rondestvedt

Written by: Taylor Rondestvedt

Is never without a loaf of rye bread and currently stocks 5 different butters in her kitchen.


The M. August 31, 2016
I tried it but it didn't work out, the avocado was still quite hard afterwards... maybe maybe vinegar next time? How much did you exactly?

And has anyone tried this trick?
Tonya R. June 23, 2016
I would give it a try. One if my favorite snacks is a ripe avocado with balsamic vinegar. About the only way I do not like them is cooked, it just does something strange to the taste.
Amber Z. October 12, 2015
Another trick that works wonders, is to put the unripe avocado in a small brown paper bag with some bananas. This can do the trick in anywhere from a few hours up to a day depending on the ripeness of the banana and/or the avocado. And no vinegar taste!
Sarah C. October 12, 2015
This worked like a charm! Also, I was able to keep 1/2 of the avocado I didn't eat in the fridge for a couple of days and it didn't get too brown. Unfortunately, I found the vinegary taste a little overpowering and not so enjoyable. I'm going to try the same technique with diluted lemon juice and see what happens. Has anyone else tried that? I think the flavor will be more enjoyable.
andr October 12, 2015
why don't you just chill and let nature bring it to a full flavor riped avocato instead of speeding things up all the time! crazy humans!
Mar P. October 23, 2018
Because sometimes you need avocados for the Sunday brunch with family and friends.
But I agree with you.
gayle G. September 26, 2015
I will try this. I love to pickle new things. As I hate to waste anything from my organic garden I pickled watermelon rind, peeled of the outer green and in the brine I used dill, tarragon, garlic, blk pepper and a bit of habanero. So delicious and so crisp. They lasted a year in the fridge and I had fun getting people to guess what they were.
Adam F. September 26, 2015
Does this rely on the acidity of the vinegar to work? What happens if you replace the vinegar with citric acid or lemon juice? That would at least make the flavour a bit more favourable for guacamole.
Lana September 22, 2015
What is the recipe for the brine solution? Is it one pint jar or quart jar for one avocado? I'm game to try this!!
Halli September 21, 2015
Not sure why so many sourpuss comments about not wanting to try this instead of letting them ripen for another couple of days...fine, so don't try it. This is obviously to try if you DON'T want to wait another couple of days. It seems worth a try to me in that case. If you haven't tried it and don't want to, no need to post and be negative for no reason.
Jane L. September 20, 2015
My son is lucky enough to have a huge avocado tree in his backyard and when they ripen, yikes, the sky is falling. Now we have another recipe to try! I love to pickle anything.
michelle September 20, 2015
I love avocados with a good douse of vinegar so this sounds delicious and brilliant!
Kelly September 20, 2015
What about experimenting with the brining fluid? Maybe use lime juice instead of acetic acid?
kimikoftokyo September 20, 2015
I love pickled things. Never had an avacodo as such. But I'm willing to try! It can go on a salad. I use the huge ones. Very rare that I pick up the small ones. Can it be done with the bigger ones?
aaCooks September 20, 2015
Why not just throw them in your pickle jar that is sitting in your fridge with 2 lonely pickles? Even quicker!
Joyce G. September 17, 2015
I am back sand here are the results. 1. Cut through the skin in quarters and placed into room temperature brins; 2. Marinated for 45 m8n.; 3. Removed and took peel off the upper half portion all around; 4. Returned to brine for 45 minutes;5. 45 minutes, taste testes - firm but soft and with full avocado flavor. Husband very happy and it isn't mushy.
Angela R. September 17, 2015
A trick I learned a few years ago: place unripe avocados in a bag (or even next to) your bananas--they ripen much more quickly!
Eujin M. September 17, 2015
i usually just fry them up with eggs and they get nice and soft...
Joyce G. September 16, 2015
I'm going to try slicing around the avocado but not slice and place the entire avocado in pickling solution for two hours. I'll report back how it goes tomorrow.
ariel A. September 16, 2015
This is a beautiful thing. :')
Waled K. September 16, 2015
thank u so much