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Should Avocados Be Refrigerated? (Or Left Out)

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There is a lot of conflicting info out there regarding proper avocado storage. However, the USDA is clear on the correct way to store them.

You shouldn’t store unripe avocados in the refrigerator as it will slow the ripening process. However, you should store ripe avocados in the fridge to slow their ripening, so they retain their pristine ripeness for longer. Avocados should ripen at room temperature and should never over-ripen.

Keep reading to learn more about why you shouldn’t refrigerate avocados. I will also give you more avocado storage tips to make this deliciously creamy fruit last longer.

Why Should You Not Refrigerate Avocados?

Avocados are nutritious and versatile fruits that you can use to make the following:

But avocados are tricky. You wait for them to ripen, and then they ripen faster than you can consume them before becoming too mushy or going bad. Avocados aren’t cheap, either, so you’d want to store them correctly to get the best out of them.

You shouldn’t store avocados in the refrigerator because they won’t ripen completely. They ripen at an ideal temperature of 60° F (15° C), so keeping them in the fridge will slow down their ripening process. You should choose a cool, dark corner in your pantry to ripen them for a few days.

Improperly stored rotten avocados in a plastic bag
Improperly stored avocados are not a pretty picture

Refrigerate Avocados After They’re Ripe

Refrigerating ripe avocados will help slow their ripening beyond their sweet spot so you can consume them while still fresh. A ripe avocado will last several days in the fridge after ripening.

Avocado Ripening Process

Like several other fruits, avocados don’t ripen until they’re picked. The plants’ hormones ethylene in fruits like bananas and apples triggers the ripening. Storing such fruits in a brown paper bag will trap the ethylene gas, thereby quickening the ripening process.

There’s always the risk of overripening if you don’t check them frequently. They can ripen very quickly, and the next thing you know, you’re stuck with a mushy-brown avocado. Try checking your avocados as often as every other day. 

How To Know When To Refrigerate Ripe Avocados

Freshly-picked avocados are as hard as a rock but begin to soften as they ripen. A freshly-ripe avocado’s flesh should be soft enough to squeeze but not soft enough to break the skin. 

You can also try shaking them. If the pit is loose, you should eat the avocado immediately. Otherwise, you can store them in the fridge for future consumption. 

You can store ripe and uncut avocados in the fridge for one or two weeks. You can also prepare avocados for refrigeration to further extend their shelf life.

How To Prepare Avocados for Refrigeration

  1. Sort out those with blemishes and bruises from marketing handling and consume those first.
  2. Wash and dry your avocados with a soft towel.
  3. Stash them in the crisper drawer along with the rest of your veggies.

Following the steps above will allow you to keep your avocados in the fridge for an even longer period of time.

What Is the Best Way To Store Avocados?

Girl Holding an Avocado

You don’t have the time to visit the grocery store every day to buy avocados, so you should purchase several. Interestingly, they may all ripen on the same day, yet you can’t consume them all in one go (or you shouldn’t, at least! This is why you need to preserve avocados.

The best way to store avocados is to refrigerate ripe ones and keep unripe ones in a cool, dry corner in your pantry. Store your uncut ripe avocados in airtight containers and place them in your refrigerator. Don’t refrigerate unripe avocados as it will compromise their taste and texture once ripe.

How To Store Avocados After Cutting

About half an avocado should be enough for a salad or an avocado toast. So, then, what’s the best way to preserve the other half?

Avocado savers like this avocado holder (available on Amazon) can come in handy. This one’s dishwasher-safe and made of BPA-Free plastic that will last through several years. 

Here’s how to store cut avocados:

Skin-On

Do not scoop out the avocado flesh. Leave the skin and the pit intact instead. They provide the much-needed cover from oxygen, preventing your avocado from turning brown. 

To protect the exposed flesh from oxygen, place the cut avocado in an airtight plastic wrap and place it in the produce drawer of your fridge. It’ll remain green and fresh for two to three days.

Preserve It With Onion Slices

Some would prefer going an extra step to refrigerate their cut avocados in airtight containers with onion slices, which is entirely OK. The onion fumes will slow oxidation which causes the avocado flesh to turn brown. Your avocados will remain fresh for at least two days.

Skin-Off

You can still preserve cut avocados with their skin off, but you’ll have to mash them.

Here’s how you do it:

  • Mash them in a non-reactive container.
  • Do not cover the container with the lid. Place a plastic wrap in contact with the mashed avocado instead.
  • Remove air bubbles.
  • Add drops of lime juice in the avocado mash to slow the browning process even further.
  • Place the container in the refrigerator.
  • The avocado will remain fresh and green for two to three days.
  • If it turns brown, gently scrape off the top layer to reveal the green flesh below.

Long-Term Avocado Storage

Pickling avocado is a way to preserve it for the long-term if you want to get its value even after several weeks of storage. You can consume pickled avocado as a stand-alone snack or use it to make sandwiches.

You can also freeze pickled avocados and consume them several weeks later.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Mix pickled avocados with lime juice or fresh lemon and blend them until smooth.
  2. Place the avocado puree in a freezer bag.
  3. Label the bag with a date.
  4. Freeze for up to four months.

How Long Does Avocado Last Once Cut?

Two halves of unripe avocado

Avocados aren’t like most other fruits. They have a short shelf life, and it’s tricky to tell if they’re ripe or not–you have to feel it by pressing with your fingers and feel how hard or soft the flesh is.

An unripe avocado takes about three days to a week at room temperature to ripen. It will take another three-to-five days to peak its ripening in the fridge, after which it may over-ripen depending on your fridge temperature settings and storage techniques.

A cut avocado lasts about three to four days before losing its freshness. If left untreated with acid, its flesh will turn brown pretty fast. Although consuming the brown flesh isn’t bad, it won’t look attractive and sumptuous in guacamole. 

Storing Avocados in Water

The sensation created by the viral online hack of storing cut avocado in water is crazy. Several videos have surfaced claiming that storing cut avocado underwater will prevent it from browning that occurs when you expose its flesh to oxygen. But storing avocados underwater is not the miracle hack some people claim.  

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) told Good Morning America that the hack is unsafe because of bacterial contamination. FDA worries that residual human pathogens like Salmonella spp typically living on avocado’s surface may thrive and multiply under water.

FDA adds that washing the avocado later with fresh water won’t reverse that damage.

I wouldn’t recommend a hack that the FDA doesn’t recommend. Preserve your cut avocado by drizzling it with lemon juice and keeping it in an airtight container. The acidity of the juice will prevent it from browning.

Here’s a YouTube video showing submerged avocado refrigeration.

Final Thoughts

Avocados are nutritious, sweet, costly, and perishable. Therefore, you need to store them well to extend their shelf life and consume them when fresh and safe.

You can freeze ripe ones using the techniques above, but not unripe ones. Don’t store cut avocados under water as the FDA doesn’t recommend it.

For more, don’t miss Is It Safe to Eat Unripe Avocado? | What You Need to Know.

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