How do you ripen avocados so that they’re just right—not too mushy? Here’s what you need to know about selecting, ripening, cutting, and storing avocados. After all, it’s worth the knowledge to enjoy this super-healthy brain food—and make awesome guacamole!
How to Select an Avocado
The best way to tell if an avocado is ready for immediate use is to gently squeeze the fruit in the palm of your hand (avoid squeezing with your fingertips). Ripe, ready-to-eat fruit will be firm yet will yield to gentle pressure.
It’s hard to explain but think of how your palm feels—a soft give but also firm.
How to Ripen Avocados
The cold air in a fridge delays ripening. And if you’re waiting for your avocado to ripen on the counter, it could be a while.
I discovered a trick years ago for ripening avocados. As soon as I buy them (green), I tuck them securely in a brown paper bag with an apple or two. After two (sometimes three) days, they are perfect.
Apples and avocados all produce natural ethylene gas, a gaseous plant hormone, that speeds up the ripening process. When placed in a paper bag, you are containing the ethylene and encouraging the fruit to ripen faster.
The apple is just for extra gas. The avocado will ripen in the bag by itself, too. If possible, use red or golden delicious apples. These old varieties produce more ethylene than newer varieties.
How to Peel Avocados
When peeling avocados, cut them lengthwise into four equal quarters around the seed. Don’t remove the seed until you’ve separated the quarters.
The skin and seed will then come away effortlessly.
Keep Avocados From Turning Brown
To bring out their flavor, a bit of edible acid helps. Some folks like to use a bit of lemon or lime, but my favorite is apple cider vinegar. I dice them into bite-sized pieces, shower them with a splash of vinegar and a generous pinch of salt and stir. Delicious!
By adding an acidic agent, you also delay the aging process so that your avocado or guacamole won’t turn brown.
Putting the avocado seed(s) in guacamole may help maintain the color of the guacamole because the seed reduces the amount of surface area that is exposed to air (minimizing oxidization).
Of course, adding plastic wrap so that your guacamole isn’t exposed to air (oxidation) will also help. If your guacamole develops a brown-colored layer, it’s safe to just scrape it off to eat the green spread beneath.
Avocados Are Good for You!
According to Dr. David Perlmutter (author of Grain Brain), they are one of the three best brain foods. He believes that avocados, grass-fed beef, and coconut oil are essential for healthy brain function. According to the California Avocado Commission:
One-third of a medium avocado (50 g) has 80 calories and contributes nearly 20 vitamins and minerals, making it a great nutrient-dense food choice.
The avocado is virtually the only fruit that contains heart-healthy monounsaturated fat—good fat!
Avocados are naturally sodium-, sugar- and cholesterol-free.
Avocados can act as a “nutrient booster” by helping increase the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients such as vitamins A, D, K and E.
Avocados are also one of the cleanest fruits. Their thick skin keeps pesticides and other poisons from infiltrating the meat so this item doesn’t always have to be organically grown. Some of the most vitamin-rich part of an avocado lies just underneath the skin.
Of course, we would be remiss if we didn’t offer up a delicious guacamole recipe. See this recipe and more below!
Avocado and Bacon Spread
Chicken Avocado and Almonds
Chilled Avocado Soup
Grow Your Own Avocado Tree
By the way, is the avocado a fruit or a vegetable? It’s a fruit! To be more specific, it’s a berry.
You can grow your own avocado fruit tree, too—if you have patience.
If you’re growing a tree from your own avocado seed, it will start out as a houseplant.
See our article on how to grow an avocado tree.