Avocados are a nutritional powerhouse, but keeping them fresh can be tricky. There’s a reason there are so many memes about avocado ripening—it can feel impossible to cut one open and enjoy it at just the right moment. So, how do you keep avocados fresh? There are a few things you can do to make sure you get that perfectly ripe bite every time.
While there’s not much you can do to stop an avocado from ripening in the first place, there’s one easy way to keep it from going bad on your countertop. Once an avocado ripens, it’s fine to toss it in the fridge for a couple of days and give it a bit of lemon juice to preserve the freshness. Here’s what else you should know about storing whole and cut avocados to make sure they stay fresh as long as possible.
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How should you store an avocado on the countertop?
If you have an avocado that’s not ripe yet, the best place for it is on a counter. “Safety-wise, it is fine for whole/non-sliced avocados to be stored on the countertop and near other items,” says Meredith Carothers, the technical information specialist at the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.
You’ll want to keep the avocado away from other fruits and vegetables that might be on the countertop, though. Avocados produce ethylene gas, which can make other foods ripen faster.
How can you ripen an avocado on the countertop?
If you want to get that avocado ready for Taco Tuesday, there’s an easy trick. The ethylene that avocados produce isn’t great for other ethylene-sensitive foods on your countertop, but it can be good if you want to ripen an avocado faster.
Just put the avocado in a paper bag, California Avocados explains. The ethylene gas will get trapped inside the bag, speeding up the avocado’s ripening process. Pairing it with an apple or kiwi will make it ripen even faster because those fruits also produce ethylene.
How can you make a ripe avocado last longer?
If your avocado is ripe but you don’t want to eat it just yet, toss it into your refrigerator.
“An avocado can naturally ripen on the counter, but once it is ripe, it is best to put it in the fridge to help slow down the process,” says Leah Cohen, executive chef at Pig & Khao in New York City.
“When an avocado is soft to the touch, that generally means it is ripe,” Carothers says. So if your avocado gets to that point, you might want to put it in the fridge—because there’s nothing worse than a mushy avocado.
How do you keep an avocado half fresh in the fridge?
If you’re eating alone, you’re likely not downing an entire Hass avocado in one sitting. But it can seem like the browning process starts as soon as you put it on the shelf to eat later.
You can’t stop an avocado from oxidizing, which is what causes the browning, but you can slow down the process. When storing an avocado half, put a little lemon juice on it, Carothers suggests. The acid will help keep the avocado fresh. Wrapping it tightly with plastic wrap can also help, or you can use a container, like this avocado hugger.
“If you want to save half of an avocado, leave the pit in the side you want to save and add olive oil, or a splash of lemon or lime juice to the exposed flesh,” Cohen says. “Then, tightly cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate.”
It’s important to remember, though, that just because your avocado is browning doesn’t mean it’s gone bad.
“The browning that occurs to avocados once sliced is a natural color change,” Carothers says. “It does not indicate the avocado is spoiling or no longer safe to eat—it is just a quality change. While not ideal or the most preferred, you can still eat the brown flesh of the avocado.”
Avocados can be a little tricky, freshness-wise, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid them. They’re full of fiber and nutrients, and they’re versatile enough to include in plenty of different dishes. Follow these tips, and you’ll keep your avocados fresh (and delicious) for days to come. Just make sure you pick the perfect avocado in the first place.
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