How long do avocados last?
So you’ve bought a bunch of avocados, and got some leftovers. A few whole ones and a cut-up half that didn’t quite make it to the salad. You don’t have anything planned for them yet, but you sure as hell don’t want them to go to waste. Time to learn about proper storage and shelf life of avocados, right?
In this short guide, we cover everything you need to know about storing and eating avocados. We talk about ripening, storage practices, shelf life, freezing, and knowing when the fruit is past its prime. If that’s what you’re looking for, read on.
Photo by Nur Afni Setiyaningrum.
The avocadoes you buy in the store or farmer’s market quite often aren’t ripe yet, so the first thing you need to know is how to tell if the fruit is ripe or not.
While colors may vary (there are green and black Hass avocados available), the most consistent way of telling if the fruit is ripe is by giving it a gentle squeeze in the palm of your hand (1). If it yields to pressure, it’s ripe or almost there; if not, it still needs some time. The more avocados you go through, the more accurately you will be able to tell.
An unripe avocado usually takes between 2 days and up to a week to ripen. I went through a bunch myself, and I’m still not able to tell how long one will take to mature.
I let it rest in a fruit bowl until it is no longer super firm to the touch. My suggestion is that you squeeze each ripening avocado once or twice a day to check if it’s ready.
If you need to speed up this process, place the fruit in a paper bag and add in an apple or a banana. The ethylene from the fruits will do the job (1).
One thing to note is that peeling or spooning the flesh of an unripe avocado is difficult and frustrating, so always make sure it’s ripe before you decide to eat it.
A whole ripe avocado should last between three to fives days in the fridge. It all depends on the fruit, and I had avocados that kept great quality even for a week.
Photo by Charles.
You should keep cut avocados in the fridge, where they keep quality for like 3 to 4 days. Whenever I cut an avocado in half, I try to eat the rest the next day, or the day after at worst.
The thing about cut avocado is that the flesh turns brown fast due to oxidation. The exposed surface will start to brown almost right away, and often some of it will be brown within 24 hours. You can prevent that by sprinkling the fruit’s surface with an acidic agent like lemon or lime juice (1), or even white vinegar (2). I usually don’t have any fresh lemons on hand, or am too lazy to do that, so I skip this step and try to eat the leftovers as early as possible.
When it comes to how to pack cut avocado for storage, you can cover it with plastic wrap, or put in a freezer bag or an airtight container (1). I usually go with the last option for easy cleanup.
Photo by Alina Karpenko.
If you’ve bought way too many avocados on clearance and don’t have a good way of using them before they go bad, freezing is an option. The whole process is simple, and all you need is a blender and some lemon or lime juice. Here’s how it goes (2):
- Cut the fruit in half and remove the seed.
- Peel the halves or use a teaspoon to remove the flesh.
- Puree the flesh with a blender or food processor. Add one tablespoon or lemon or lime juice per two avocados.
- Pour the puree into freezer-safe containers. Each container should have as much as you need for a single dish. Make sure there’s some headspace.
- Seal the containers and label them if needed.
- Transfer the pureed avocados into the freezer.
Defrosting frozen avocados is as simple as chucking the container into the fridge in the evening to have it ready in the morning. To speed things up, you can submerge it in a bowl of cold water. It will still take a couple of hours to fully defrost, though.
Last but not least, let’s talk how to tell if your avocado is still okay to eat, and when it isn’t.
Photo by Glen Carrie.
Unless the whole avocado is super soft, the stem dried out or moldy, or the entire thing smells rancid (3), you need to open up the fruit to check its quality. But if either of the mentioned signs is there, discard the whole fruit right away.
For cut avocados, let’s talk about brown or browning flesh. For starters, you should discard any brown parts. If the fruit was cut up and in the fridge, chances are only the surface has the color changed and underneath is a healthy green avocado flesh. If that’s the case, discard the top layer and enjoy the rest (2).
If there are larger areas of brown flesh, usually near the stem, it’s up to you if you discard the whole fruit, or scoop out the healthy parts. I typically opt for the latter.
From time to time, you can find fibrous strings in the flesh. Those are thickening vascular bundles, and they show up on either young trees or due to poor storage conditions (2). They are edible, but I find the string kind of ruin the texture of the fruit. I won’t blame you if you decide to throw out such a specimen.
- Ripe whole avocado lasts 3 to 5 days in the fridge. Ripening takes between 2 to even 7 days, and you do it at room temperature.
- An avocado is ripe when it yields to gentle pressure.
- Store cut avocados in the fridge, sprinkled with lemon or lime juice to prevent browning. Seal it tightly in a freezer bag or an airtight container.
- If you have way too many avocados on hand, puree and freeze them.
- If you stored the avocado in the fridge, remove the browned top layer and enjoy the rest. If there are larger brown or blackish areas, either throw out the whole thing or scoop out the good part.