Avocados are consumed in their millions by British households, but if they are not stored correctly, they can overripen and spoil quickly. Express.co.uk spoke to Charles Haverfield, Packaging Executive at US Packaging and Wrapping about keeping avocados fresh and green for longer.
Charles began: “The shelf life of your avocado will all depend on the ripeness of the fruit when purchased.
“Naturally, buying an unripe avocado will last you longer – if your avocado is still bright green, it will need around a week to ripen before you can eat it.
“A fully ripe, uncut avocado can last up to two weeks after buying if stored correctly.
“To slow down the ripening process and prevent your avocado from becoming a mushy brown mess, pop it in the fridge which will help keep it firmer and fresher for longer.”
The expert also explained why avocados turn brown when the flesh is exposed. He said: “Avocados are highly perishable fruits and are particularly vulnerable to browning once they’ve been cut. This is because, like many fruits, avocados have an enzyme called polyphenol oxidase which reacts when oxidisation happens.
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“Once the avocado’s flesh comes into contact with oxygen, a reaction happens that changes the pigment to brown and reduces the quality and texture of the fruit.
“Because of this, it’s best to leave cutting your avocado for as long as possible prior to eating to ensure you have the best quality avocado.”
So is there a way to tell whether or not an avocado is perfectly ripe and ready to eat? Charles said: “Colour and firmness will help you to determine whether your avocado is perfectly ripe.
“First, check whether the colour of the skin is dark enough. An underripe avocado will still be a paler shade of green instead of the classic dark green or brown shade.
“You should also give your avocado a gentle, yet firm, squeeze to test its texture. A ripe avocado will yield slightly without being overly soft. An avocado that gives too easily is undoubtedly overripe and mushy, while one that has no give and feels too firm will need longer to ripen.”
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If your avocado is underripe, “there are a number of ways you can speed up the ripening process”. The expert added: “Keeping your avocado in a warm, sunny spot will help the ripening process go quicker. But be sure to keep testing the avocado’s firmness to prevent it from overripening.
“You can also try keeping avocados in a fruit bowl with other fruits that release the ripening gas ethylene, such as bananas and apples.”
As for what the best ways to store an avocado are, Charles revealed: “There are different ways you should store avocados, depending on how ripe they are and how soon you want to eat them.
“If you have a ripe avocado that you’re planning to eat within a day or two, or your avocados are not yet ripe, leave them out on your countertop away from bright light. Room temperature will allow avocados to keep ripening which won’t be a problem if you want to chow down quickly.
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“However, if you’re looking to keep your fruit fresh for a longer period, popping them in the fridge will slow down the ripening process.
“Freezing avocado slices is another solution for those that want their avocados to last for several months, but aren’t as concerned about texture.
“One viral hack you shouldn’t follow is keeping avocados in water,” he added. “Submerging avocados in water might seemingly help them to stay fresh but doing so will put them at greater risk of contamination.
“Damp conditions make the perfect breeding ground for nasty bacteria such as listeria and salmonella, so avoid this trend to prevent illness.”
Charles continued: “A better solution if you want to prolong the shelf life of your cut avocados is to squirt them with lemon juice. Citrus fruits work great for preserving avocados since the acid reduces the activity of polyphenol oxidase, slowing down avocado flesh from browning.
“Freezing avocados can be a great way to keep your fruit for longer, even lasting up to four months when stored in the freezer – perfect for saving those ripe avocados you don’t want to go to waste.
“However, avocado lovers should be aware that the thawing process can affect the texture of the flesh, so don’t expect perfectly creamy and firm avocados after defrosting. Because of this, it’s best to only freeze avocados you plan to mash or blend i.e., to be used in a smoothie or make guacamole with.
“To freeze avocados, remove the skin and cut them into chunks or slices before storing them in a zip-lock freezer bag. Allow your frozen avocado chunks to defrost at room temperature for 30 minutes before you use them.”