What is the Shelf Life of Avocados?
Scientifically known as “Persea americana”, avocados are highly valued for several reasons. They contain substantial amounts of healthy fats known as monounsaturated fatty acids as well as a wide array of nutrients and vitamins.
Avocados thrive in subtropical climates and are synonymous with Mexico, as they are believed to have originated from that region.
Given the highly nutritious components, avocados have gained popularity especially in the health sector and among the health-conscious individuals.
Avocados are one of those tricky items to store, since they can go from being hard and unripe to mushy and ripen too fast within no time. Another interesting bit about avocados is that they do not ripen on the tree. They ripen and develop a desirable texture once plucked from the tree.
Avocados come in many varieties. The most common variety is the Hass avocado. Avocados also differ on the skin color, size and texture of flesh.
Some avocados have green skin while other have dark brown skin. You will also find certain avocados with oily and firm flesh. Some varieties have watery flesh.
Before becoming too excited about stocking this superfood in your pantry, it is imperative to know some of the storage hacks which keep avocados from ripening too fast.
These tips will come in handy whether you have unripe avocados or ripe ones in which you desire to extend their shelf life.
Being aware of an avocado’s shelf life is fundamental in the storage process.
- Ripe, cut avocados can keep for a maximum of 4 days in the refrigerator and 1 day in the open.
- Whole avocados can keep for a maximum of 1 week in the refrigerator and up to 7 days in the pantry.
- Well preserved cut avocados can keep in the freezer for a maximum of 4 months.
How to Tell If an Avocado Is Ripe
The sense of touch plays a crucial role in identifying a ripe avocado. When pressed, a ripe avocado slightly dents inwards without getting squashed. An overripe one will get squashed.
Another way you can tell a ripe avocado is by its skin color. For the green-skinned variety, a raw avocado will have bright and shiny green hue.
As it starts to ripen, the skin will change from bright green to a dark green and become brownish hue when ripe.
The brown-skinned variety will still maintain its brown color when ripe, but will change into a deep, dark brown when overripe.
In order to effectively increase an avocado’s shelf life, it is important to take into account these two factors:
- The state of the avocado before storage – this can include: raw, whole avocado; ripe, whole avocado; ripe, cut avocado; mashed avocado as well as raw, cut avocado.
- The storage area – do you want to store in the pantry, fridge or freezer?
How to Handle Whole Ripe and Raw Avocados
If you have already bought ripe avocados but do not intend to use them immediately, storing them in the refrigerator when whole is the best option. This will mitigate the ripening process due to the low temperatures.
Leaving the avocados in the pantry will cause them to overripe and rot quickly.
On the other hand, it is not advisable to put raw avocados in the refrigerator or freezer as this will prevent them from maturing and ripening as they should. This also impedes the natural flavours from developing.
For whole, raw avocados, it is best to leave them in the open or in the pantry to enable the natural ripening process to occur.
However, if you want the raw uncut avocados to ripen faster, you can place them in a brown paper or cloth bag together with an apple or a banana. These three fruits are known to ripen naturally by producing the hormone ethylene. Hence if you want whole avocados to ripen faster, it is only sensible to store them with other ethylene-producing fruits.
If by accident you cut into an unripe avocado, you can hasten its ripening process by sprinkling the flesh of the cut avocados with either lemon or lime juice, stick the halves back together with the pit, wrap them with a plastic wrap, then store in the fridge. Make sure to keep checking from time to time if they have ripened.
How to Handle Cut Ripe and Raw Avocados
Maybe you only needed a half of an avocado to spread on your toast or make a small serving of guacamole for your lunchtime nachos. You are then left wondering what to do with the other half.
The most effective way to prevent a cut, ripe avocado from ripening further and to prolong its shelf life is to store it in the fridge.
To prevent the flesh from turning black, coat the flesh with some acid such as lemon, lime or vinegar and wrap the avocado with a cling film or paper. Brushing the flesh with vegetable oil also prevents the fruit from browning.
Ensure that you retain the seed as it reduces the surface area of exposed flesh.
Placing the avocado in the produce section of your fridge is effective if you intend to use the avocado in a few days.
In case you want the avocado to keep much longer, chop it up into small cubes or mash it then mix the cubes or mash with the lemon/lime juice or oil and keep it either in a zip lock bag, airtight container, or ice tray and freeze it. Freezing is the best way to store avocados long term and extend their shelf life.
The trick is to make sure that no air gets into the avocado to prevent it from browning. This you can achieve by: removing all the air from the zip lock bag and ensuring that the bag touches the avocado, and if using the ice tray, covering the ice tray with a plastic wrap and pressing down on the wrap to ensure that the entire surface of the avocado is covered.
In case you have many avocados, you can store in small batches. This will enable you to thaw out only what you intend to use.
The other great alternative when freezing cut avocados is vacuum sealing the avocado pieces.
The video below shows the best way to vacuum seal cut avocados:
When to Discard Avocados
Do avocados go bad? And how can you tell if your avocados have gone bad? Any natural product is bound to go bad at some point. In as much as the above tactics may have served you effectively, something can still go wrong during storage and cause the avocados to rot.
Whereas an overripe avocado can still pass the threshold of being consumed, a rotten one is unpleasant to eat or use. Before discarding that superfood, these are some of the ways you can confirm that an avocado is rotten:
Taste and smell
A rotten avocado will give off a sour taste and emit a pungent smell when sniffed. This is best seen when you cut through the avocado.
The major culprit which hastens the decaying process is oxygen. When storing cut avocados, ensure there is no leeway for air to penetrate through.
Blackened and fibrous flesh
The more an avocado ripens, the darker its skin and flesh become. A brownish flesh can still be consumed if there is no visible mold or smell emitted.
However, when the avocado begins to rot, the flesh will start to separate, become darker and eventually turn black and stringy.
You should discard such avocados to prevent any infections or food poisoning.
A clear sign that an avocado is rotten is the presence of mold. You can easily tell by looking for whitish or greyish patches on the skin, the stem eye or the flesh itself. The stem eye or nub will also turn black.
Such avocados should be discarded immediately for safety reasons. In case someone is allergic and inhales the mold, this can lead to serious breathing complications, toxicity and food poisoning when consumed.
Too squashy texture in an avocado indicates an overripe fruit. This means that it will go bad within no time. Therefore, it is best to consume immediately or discard it altogether.
An already sunken but whole avocado with dented skin is also an indicator of expiration.
Final Thoughts on “How Long do Avocados Last (in the Fridge)?
Avocados are fragile fruits. Any mishandling can exacerbate their decay. As such, you should handle them with care by avoiding unnecessary squeezing as well as using the mentioned techniques to maximize their shelf life.