In This Article

  • Ripening on the tree
  • Ripening avocados after picking
  • Keeping avocados fresh

Avocados (​Persea americana​, USDA hardiness zones 10-12) are a delicious and healthy addition to your diet, but they do have one major downside: They’re known to be tricky in terms of ripening, and an underripe or overripe avocado will be far less pleasant and sometimes inedible. Getting the ripening process right can ensure a perfect avocado every time.

Ripening on the Tree

If you’ve grown your own tree from seed, it will take a while for you to start seeing avocado fruits. Avocado trees grown from seed can take many years to begin flowering and bearing fruit. There may be another disappointment, too, when the fruits from your seed-started tree do not resemble the avocado from which you extracted the seed in terms of quality and taste. Once your avocado tree is producing fruits, it’s important to know when to pick them. The ideal month to pick the fruit depends on the variety, but the common Hass avocado (​Persea americana​ ‘Hass,’ zones 9-11) tends to be riper during the summer months. A good indicator that it’s time to pick is if a few of the fruits have already dropped. If you are picking your own avocados to check for ripeness, begin by picking just one large specimen, allowing it some time to ripen. Then, check on the fruit before picking any others.

Ripening Avocados After Picking

Avocados are unusual in that after picking, they require extra time to fully ripen. If you aren’t ready to begin eating your avocados, it’s best to leave them on the tree until 10 days to two weeks before you want to begin eating them. If you are buying your avocado in a store, planning ahead is key. Think about how soon you want to eat your avocado and purchase accordingly. A darker, softer-feeling fruit will be ready for consumption more quickly, while a firmer, greener specimen will need a few days of ripening before it can be eaten. To keep picked avocados from ripening too fast, you should store them in your fridge rather than in a fruit bowl at room temperature. Lower temperatures mean slower ripening. Avocados produce ethylene gas during their ripening process, so ensuring they have airflow and the gas doesn’t become trapped can also help prevent avocados from ripening too fast. Other fruits that produce ethylene gas can speed up the ripening process too, so keep your avocados away from apples and bananas in particular.

Keeping Avocados Fresh

Once you’ve pitted and peeled your avocado, you have a pretty short window in which to eat it. There are certain things you can do to keep your opened avocado fresher for longer, though. You should store your avocado in an airtight container in your refrigerator. If your avocado starts to look brown, you can remove the spoiled parts, and the fruit underneath should still be fresh. Storing your remaining avocado with the pit still attached can also slow down the ripening process simply by minimizing the amount of fruit that is exposed to the air and oxidization. Another tip to help keep your avocados fresher for longer is applying some kind of edible acid to the exposed area of the fruit. Both apple cider vinegar and lemon juice can help prevent an avocado from turning brown. It may add to the taste of the fruit too.

When the guac craving calls, you’ll be ready.

Updated on August 6, 2022 Photo: Westend61/Getty Images Cutting open a perfectly soft, vibrant green avocado feels somewhat like winning the lottery; because let’s be honest, it’s a pretty rare occurrence. If you’re someone who frequently buys avocados from the market, you’re already familiar with the song-and-dance that comes with waiting for them to ripen. Typically, it takes a few days for them to soften when stored on your countertop—but if you miss the window—they’ll become brown and mushy.
While proper planning is always the best approach, it’s not always realistic when you need an avocado on the fly (emergency guacamole, anyone?). Luckily, there’s an easy trick for making avocados ripen faster, and all you need is a brown paper bag.

Paper Bag Method

If you haven’t tried expediting the ripening process before, prepare to have your mind blown. About two days before you want to enjoy an avocado, simply place it in a brown paper bag and fold the top over. Leave it on your countertop or in the pantry and let it do its thing. This method also comes in handy for other fruits, such as peaches, mangoes, plums, or tomatoes. Just note that this trick only works with a brown paper bag, since plastic bags will trap moisture and result in mold.

Bag It With Fruit

For a slight variation on the above trick, place your avocado in a paper bag with a banana or apple and fold to close. Store it in a warm environment until the skin turns a darker green and yields to gentle pressure, which usually takes one to three days. Alternatively, if you don’t have any other fruit on hand, you can place the avocado in a bag of uncooked rice and fold to close. Again, store it in a warm environment until the skin turns a darker green and yields to gentle pressure.
So why does the paper bag trick work? Ripening is the result of fruit releasing a gas called ethylene, which effectively starts the process of decay. It’s caused by the breakdown of cell walls, conversion of starches to sugars, and the disappearance of acids in a piece of produce. All of these processes make a peach, pear, or avocado more palatable—it’ll feel softer and taste sweeter with less acid, starch, and softer cell walls—only up to a point (when it gets rotten). Because ethylene gas diffuses easily, it can travel within the plant from cell to cell and to neighboring plants. It’s also triggered by heat. Placing an avocado in a paper bag allows the ethylene to get to work.

How to Slow Down Avocado Ripening

On the flip side, if you’re hoping to serve dinner guests guacamole a few days from now and you’ve found yourself with an avocado that’s almost too soft, there’s a super simple way to slow the ripening down. Simply place your ripe fruit in the fridge. The cooler temperature will slow the effects of ethylene gas.
The main takeaway here is to plan ahead. When you’re in the grocery store, think about when you’d like to enjoy your avocado. If it’s soon, opt for a darker skinned avocado that has a slight softness and is ready to be eaten. If you have a few days before you’ll be serving it, go ahead and grab a firmer avocado with a greener skin. And if you don’t have a brown paper bag but still want to speed up the ripening process a bit, place the avocados on the counter with direct sunlight.

GomezDavid/iStock/GettyImages Avocados are a notoriously tricky fruit to store. If you buy the fruits when they are already ripe, you’ll need to use them immediately or they may rot in a day or two. However, if you buy them before they are ripe, you may not remember to check them for ripeness and then find that they’ve ripened and rotted before you’ve had a chance to use them. Fortunately, there are ways to both hasten the fruit’s ripeness and to delay it.

When’s the Best Time to Eat an Avocado?

It can be tough to tell when an avocado is ripe because it goes from hard to too soft very quickly. A good rule of thumb is to look at the skin. If it’s very bright green and firm to the touch chances are it’s not ripe yet. However, if the skin is a blackish color, and pressing lightly on the outside leaves a deep indentation, the fruit is too ripe. A ripe avocado should have a near-black skin and be slightly firm but also slightly pliable, like the area on your hand just below where your thumb connects to your palm. Another way to check the ripeness of an avocado is to pull off the tiny remainder of the stem that sits at the very top. If the color you see beneath the stem is a soft, bright green, the fruit is ready to eat. If it’s brown, it’s either overripe or not ripe yet.

How to Stop Avocados From Ripening

While it can be difficult to tell exactly how ripe an avocado is, it’s easier to keep an avocado from ripening than it is to make a ripe avocado stay ripe instead of going bad. When you buy avocado from the store, and you can tell that it hasn’t ripened yet, you do have an option: Putting the avocado in the refrigerator will likely delay its ripening for about two to three days. Once you’ve left it in the refrigerator for that long, take it out and give it about a day to get perfectly ripe. You can check on it periodically by testing its firmness and looking at the skin under the stem. But don’t miss that window, because once an avocado is ripened, there is no going back. If an avocado is already ripe, putting it in the fridge won’t help you much. You’ll be basically abandoning a ripe avocado to slowly over-ripen. It’s best to employ the refrigerator as a ripener-slowing device only for fruit that hasn’t reached its peak ripeness yet.

How to Ripen an Avocado

If, on the other hand, you are in the opposite position and need to hasten the ripening of an avocado, there are things you can do. Placing an unripe avocado in a paper bag, along with an apple or a banana will help to ripen the fruit more quickly.

Storing a Cut Avocado

Storing a cut avocado can present a lot of difficulties. While you can stop avocados from ripening, consult an avocado ripening chart, and even hurry along an avocado’s ripening, these are all things that you do with avocados that haven’t been cut. A cut avocado is much more difficult to store. Once the avocado is cut, the air exposes the flesh to oxidation. This is why avocados turn brown. However, spritzing the surface of the avocado with lemon juice and placing it in an airtight container in the refrigerator can help to delay the oxidation process. Store the lemon-bathed avocado in your refrigerator, protected in plastic wrap and an airtight container, and it will last for about a day. References Resources Writer Bio Ashley Friedman is a freelance writer with experience writing about education for a variety of organizations and educational institutions as well as online media sites.


This post may contain affiliate links. If you click one of these links and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. In addition, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If there is any fruit in the world that is known for becoming unripe at incredulous speeds, it is the avocado. Just about everyone who works with avocados in their meals knows the feeling of checking on the avocados that were bought just the other day, only to realize that they have become too ripe to properly use. While you cannot necessarily halt the ripening process, there are ways that you can slow it down enough that you won’t have to give a second thought about them ripening too fast. The way that you go about trying to keep your avocados from ripening will depend on the condition of the avocado. In some cases, you can drastically expand the amount of time you can keep your avocado by purposefully purchasing an unripe avocado and then waiting it out. Other times, if you have already purchased the avocado, you can work with it to preserve the amount of time it can last. If you’re careful, you can even keep a cut avocado fresh for an additional day or two, and in the world of avocado ripeness, this is a long time. Because of how many different ways you can keep your avocado from ripening, the exact method that you choose to rely on will depend almost entirely on your avocado. To begin learning how to keep your avocado as long-lasting as possible, you will first want to learn the best ways to test for ripeness without damaging the avocado.

Checking the Ripeness of the Avocado

Avocados are incredibly delicate fruits, which can make it somewhat difficult to work with when you are trying to gauge what their ripeness is. While most people will go by the color of the avocado, this isn’t always accurate and can lead to problems when you are beginning to prepare your meals. First things first, everyone knows that perfectly ripe avocados will be very dark green, almost close to black in color. However, some unripe avocados may naturally be this dark, so color alone is not a good indication. In some ways, color can really only tell you when certain avocados are unripe, as they will be bright melon-green. Aside from the color of the avocado, you will want to check the softness of the avocado. This will be the best way to assume the ripeness of the fruit without actually cutting it open and looking at it. Unripe avocados, even ones that are almost black in color, will not have a lot of give when you squeeze them gently. Remember, when you are squeezing the avocado, you should never grip it with your fingertips, or you can end up bruising it. A ripe avocado is going to have some give to it, indicating that it should be used as soon as possible, especially considering how quickly avocados shift from being ripe to becoming rotten. Another way that you can check is with the stem of the avocado, if the one that you purchased still has a stem attached to it. Underneath the stem, if the avocado is the traditional bright green color that you would see in guacamole, then you know that the avocado is ripe and ready to be used in your next meal. Now that you know how to determine the ripeness of the avocado, you can begin learning the best ways to keep the avocado as fresh as possible, delaying the ripening process as much as one can, beginning with avocados that were purchased at a young, unripe stage.

Working with Young Avocados

When you are trying to keep young, firm avocados as fresh as possible, the easiest thing that you can do is going to be to put them in the fridge. Putting them in the fridge when they are young and not quite on their way to ripeness is a lot more effective because of how much the environment of the fridge can slow down the ripening process. In a way, when you are stopping the problem early, you have a lot more time to wait for the avocado to fully ripen, allowing you to make use of other foods first. Typically, keeping young avocados in the fridge allows them to last up to two weeks before you should consider eating them. In fact, when avocados are still a light green on the outside and quite firm to the touch, you can leave them on the countertop for up to five days, assuming the environment in your house is not particularly humid or hot. This is going to be the most natural way to let your avocados ripen, making for the best taste, but it also means going out of your way to find avocados that haven’t begun to ripen at all. Finding avocados in this stage of life can be difficult, simply because most stores do not sell avocados that are this young. If you grow avocados, have a local farmer’s market, or so on, you may be able to find avocados that are in this stage, but otherwise, you may have to stick with handling avocados that run the risk of becoming overripe in a matter of one or two days.

Working with Standard Avocados

Most of the avocados that you would purchase from the store are going to be avocados that will become overripe in a matter of two days or less. This isn’t a lot of time to make use out of the avocado if you do not have a dish planned in the immediate future. Thankfully, there are still ways that you can make use of your quickly ripening avocados to ensure that you can have a little bit more time to fix the perfect meal for them. One such way that you can prevent the avocado from ripening is to blanche it. Blanching an avocado physically destroys the enzymes in it that cause the avocado to go brown and become overripe as fast as it does. This enzyme is known as polyphenol oxidase, and it is responsible for the brown coloring that sets in within hours after you cut an avocado open. By blanching the avocado, you will be able to make use of it for a fair bit before it would normally begin to turn brown. You will still want to work relatively quickly, but if you need some time to fully prepare your avocado recipe, blanching the avocado might be the save that you need. If you do not know what blanching is, it is the process of very quickly submerging the fruit or vegetable in question into boiling water for anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes before rapidly putting it onto ice to halt the cooking process. The idea of this method is to heat the product up just enough to get rid of something, such as water content or a specific enzyme, and then putting it on ice so it does not heat up further and begin to cook. This will then allow you to do other things with the food in question, such as putting it in the freezer for storage (for foods that cannot handle the harsh environment of the freezer) or preserving the food and allowing it to last longer. For avocados, when you dip them into the boiling water, you will not want to keep them submerged for more than 10 seconds at a time, but you will also need to be mindful and not submerge them for less than 10 seconds either. If more than 10 seconds passes, your avocado will begin to cook, which will change the texture and taste accordingly, which can mess with what recipe plans you had in mind. If less than 10 seconds passes, then the enzymes that you are trying to kill off will not die, rendering the whole process moot. Once the 10 seconds passes, you will immediately want to put the avocado onto ice. Because avocados have substance inside of them, both the actual meat of the avocado and the pit, it will continue cooking even if it is not directly in the boiling water, which is not what you want to have happen. By putting them on the ice as soon as you take them out of the water, you can halt that internal cooking process, allowing the avocado to reach the desired state without continuing to cook. Now that you have successfully blanched the avocado, you can either store it for later, knowing that it will last a little bit longer before it would normally begin to brown, or you can begin making use of it now. A freshly blanched avocado can last up to four hours being cut open and left on the counter before beginning to brown, which is a fair amount longer than an unblanched avocado would last in the same position. In some cases, the browning may begin sooner, and this will often be due to the fact that the avocado had already reached its “overly ripe” phase before you began blanching. The timing of working with avocados is paramount to being able to make use of them. Once you know what to do with your avocados, and when you should begin working with them, you can feel confident in knowing that you will not have to see an overripe avocado again for a long, long time. Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery. Home |
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How to Store Avocados Once They’re Ripe Avocados are available year-round and are great for salads, guacamole, and avocado toast. There are several steps you can take to get your avocados ready to eat at the perfect time.

How to Ripen Avocados

Some fruits, including most citrus, berries and melons, will only ever be as mature as the day they are picked. Avocados, however, only begin their ripening process once they’re plucked off of the tree which is why most market avocados haven’t fully ripened when you’re ready to take them home. If you’re looking to consume your avocados quickly after purchasing, there are methods for speeding up the ripening process. The most commonly used method is to place your avocado in a brown paper bag. The avocado produces ethylene gas as part of its ripening process, and the bag helps to concentrate it around the fruit and speed the ripening. It’s important to use paper instead of plastic because of its porous nature; plastic will trap moisture which can lead to mold, while paper can help to absorb it. If you need to speed up the ripening process even more, add an apple to the bag — they’re known to produce a lot of ethylene.

Keeping Avocados Looking Fresh

When an avocado is cut and oxygen is introduced to the plant tissue, a chemical reaction called oxidation occurs. Avocados contain an enzyme that, when in contact with oxygen, turns colorless compounds into brown pigments known as melanins. This is the same process that occurs when a sliced apple turns brown. Brown avocados are safe to eat, but there’s something about brown avocados that’s a bit off-putting. There are several easy ways to keep your cut avocado fresh, including:


Add lemon juice to your avocados by rubbing it on the exposed flesh. The acid will slow the browning reaction.


Cover the exposed avocado flesh in Glad Press’n Seal® wrap. A tight seal is critical to preventing oxygen from reaching the flesh, thus preventing the browning.


Storing your avocado with its core is a commonly used method of keeping it fresh, but note the flesh will only be shielded from oxygen where the pit is sealing.


Chilling the avocado will slow down the enzymes that enable the browning reaction. This should be done in addition to wrapping the avocado with Glad Press’n Seal®.

Countertop, Fridge or Freezer?

Until they’re fully ripe, avocados should be stored at room temperature. Placing an unripe avocado in the refrigerator will slow the ripening process, but the same concept applies to ripe avocados: put them in the refrigerator to keep them at their prime ripeness for longer. Avocados will freeze well, but this requires a bit more preparation. You will want to wash, peel, puree and add a bit of lemon juice to your avocados before freezing. Pour the puree into your desired storage container and it will last for several months.

Take it With You

Print our simplified guide to have handy wherever you go Download + Print Sign up for our Glad Newsletter Sustainable Solutions, Trash Facts, Food Storage Tips and More! You’re on your way Just a few more details. Go back You’re in! Prepare for freshness Learn how to store whole and cut avocados properly. Ripe avocado mashed on a slice of toast and sprinkled with seasoning is nothing short of amazing—and when something is that good, it’s easy to go overboard. But going overboard when shopping for avocados can leave you with a problem: too many avocados and not enough time to enjoy them before they go south. And what happens when you need only half an avocado? Read on to learn how to store whole and cut avocados! Avocado halves with and without pits

Why Do Avocados Turn Brown?

Unless you eat up an avocado as soon as you get home from the grocery store, you may have noticed that any leftover avocado goes from green to brown in a hurry. While slightly brown avocado doesn’t taste much different from the vibrant, dark green of a freshly cut avo, it is unappetizing to get a scoop of brown guacamole piled on a tortilla chip. The brown is just oxidation—it happens to other produce too, like apples and potatoes, when they’re exposed to oxygen. The transformation is almost immediate with all three, but apples and potatoes can dodge oxidation by being submerged in water. Unfortunately, that’s not a solution for avocados, but there are ways to slow the process.

How to Store Cut Avocados

There are times when half of an avocado is enough for what we’re preparing (avocado toast or a salad topper) and wasting this green gold is not an option. You can buy avocado savers online but, in a pinch, there are easy ways to store cut avocados.


If you haven’t scooped out the avocado flesh yet, don’t! Leave it in the skin and keep the pit intact if you can. The skin and the pit block oxygen from reaching the flesh, limiting how much is exposed and will inevitably turn brown. To help preserve the rest of it, place plastic wrap directly on the flesh so there’s no chance of air getting to it and store it in the fridge. It should stay green for at least two days.

Stored With an Onion

You can put your avocado half in an airtight container with a sliced onion and refrigerate it. The fumes from the onion slow down the browning process. Your avocado will stay green for at least two days, but it may absorb the onion flavor. That could be a benefit, depending on what you plan to make with it.


If you’ve already scooped out the avocado flesh, it’s OK; you can still save it from the dark side. Spoon mashed avocado into a nonreactive container. Then, instead of topping the container with a lid, place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the avocado, making sure there are no air bubbles. Like the skin-on scenario, your avocado should remain green for at least two days in the refrigerator. To slow the process down further, you can add acid like lemon or lime juice. And if the mixture does look brown, simply scraping off the top layer should reveal green avocado below.

Avocado Storage for the Long Term

If you want to get more than just a few extra days out of your cut avocados, it’s time to think outside of the box. One option is to preserve it by pickling it. Sounds crazy, but you can pickle just about anything. Pickled avocado slices make a great stand-alone snack, but they’re also excellent on sandwiches. You can also freeze them. We put together this quick guide for freezing avocados to show you how to do it and how to best use frozen avocados.

How to Store Whole Avocados

Avocados should be stored on the counter where they can ripen properly at room temperature. Don’t store avocados in a paper bag, which would trap the natural ethylene gas from the avocado and actually speed up the ripening process (Not sure if your avocado is ready to eat? Learn how to tell if your avocado is ripe.) For whole avocados that you’re not ready to eat quite yet, the best place to store them is in the refrigerator. Refrigeration slows down the ripening process. It’s best to refrigerate an avocado that is ripe or close to it. If you refrigerate an unripe avocado, it will ripen eventually, but the texture and taste may be compromised. If your avocado is ripe, place the whole, uncut avocado in an airtight container or in the produce drawer in the refrigerator. It should be good for about two weeks, depending on how ripe it was going in.

Myth-Busting Ways to Preserve Avocados

The internet is packed with ideas for storing avocados that don’t actually work that well. Here are a few:

Store Them With Olive Oil

Some people suggest that a thin layer of olive oil can save your avocado from turning brown for a day or two. The idea is that the oil creates a barrier to oxygen so it won’t brown. While it may buy you a little time (if you use a lot of oil), your avocado will go brown before the day is over.

Blanch and Shock

This trick involves dunking a whole avocado (skin-on) in boiling water for 10 seconds and then dunking it in ice water. While it may keep the browning at bay for a little while, it changes the taste and texture enough to make it not worth the effort.

Mashed Avocado With the Pit

Ever come across an avocado pit in a bowl of guacamole? Some people think that putting a pit in a bowl of guac will keep it from browning. While the pit can prevent browning in a cut avocado, (by blocking oxygen from reaching the flesh below it) it is not a magic bullet. Adding the pit to your guacamole will not prevent it from turning brown.

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