Some avocados will go brown and look rotten before they even get soft and ripe. This fruit can definitely be tricky to get just right. I found this annoying as to why they wouldn’t ripen at home properly, so I did some research into it. Why are my avocados rotting before they ripen?
Avocados will rot before they ripen if they were harvested too soon, were stored too cold, or if they’ve been damaged or bruised. They can rot at a faster pace because they’ve been exposed to oxygen too early, making the avocado brown and bitter.
In this article, you can find out what makes avocados rot and how to avoid them going brown. I’ve listed my tips to ensure that your avocados always look and taste perfectly ripened.
What Makes Avocados Brown Before Ripening?
If an avocado is picked from the tree too early or stored too cold, it will never soften. When they are left to ripen at home for too long, they will inevitably turn rotten but are still hard. Bruising also browns the flesh faster.
Avocados only soften once they are picked from the tree. Technically avocados are “ripe” on the tree when ready to be picked, and it is the oil content that softens them once picked. If they are picked too early, then not enough oil is present in the flesh and it will never soften no matter how long they are stored.
You also need warmer temperatures to get this process going – too long in the fridge or a cold warehouse and they miss this window.
I believe that is the reason you see hard avocados go bad before they even have a period being perfectly ripe.
Are you sure your avocado isn’t just brown on the surface?
Like other fruit such as apples and bananas, avocados turn brown when exposed to oxygen. Sometimes, the browning isn’t a sign that the avocado is rotten, it’s merely a reaction, and if you scrape off the top, you’ll see that it’s still green underneath.
Due to their exposure to oxygen and the phenolic compounds in them, avocado flesh browns rapidly, much like an apple, potato, or banana. When exposed to oxygen, an enzyme in avocados called polyphenol oxidase causes the conversion of the compounds to produce polyphenols, which leads to a change in the color of the avocado’s flesh. This browning of your avocado is due to the presence of the non-toxic chemical melanin, which is what gives your eyes and your skin their color as well.
So, while your avocado may not look presentable, this surface browning is probably safe to eat. But, bear in mind that the more oxygen it’s exposed to, the more it will brown.
How To Ripen An Avocado Without Rotting It
For perfectly ripe avocados, avoid buying the cheapest avocados in the grocery store. Ripen the avocado at room temperature in a fruit bowl next to other fruits. Move to the fridge only when soft to extend its life.
Cheap avocados are usually of poorer quality as the producer has cut corners down the line. Better handling, transport, and storage will avoid bruising. Proper temperature control of the picked avocado will ensure it is ready for consumers at home.
Start with a feel test when you pick them up at the store. You want to pick the avocados on the shelf that are firm but slightly soft.
Hard, green avocados can take anywhere between two and five days to ripen at room temperature. A great way to speed the process up a bit is to store it in a paper bag with an apple, banana, or kiwi, all of which produce natural ethene gas, which will hasten the ripening process. I also wrote an article on my best tips for ripening avocados.
You can eat the avocado when it’s ripe, or you can store your ripe avocado in the fridge, where it can last for an additional one to three days.
To counteract the oxidizing chemical reaction that occurs after you cut open your avocado, adding acidic juices from citrus fruits like lemon can help, along with wrapping it up in cling wrap to seal it from further exposure to oxygen.
Using this trick, you should be able to store a halved avocado in the fridge for an extra day – but it won’t last much longer.
Do Avocados Not Ripen In The Fridge?
Putting a hard avocado in the fridge can prevent it from ripening. They should only be stored in the refrigerator once they’ve softened. Keeping a ripe avocado in the fridge will extend the period before it is overly ripe.
The lower temperatures slow down the ripening process and too long can make it miss a window of opportunity to get soft. After this time, it will likely just stay hard. That’s why the usual recommendations are to ripen at room temperature and then move to the fridge later. I wrote an article about whether they last longer in the fridge or counter here.
Any avocado that has been cut open should also be stored in the fridge. Check out my 10 things to make with half an avocado. Avocados can also be frozen whole.
Why Is My Avocado Still Hard After A Week?
A hard avocado might have been picked too early or stored too cold. Some avocados will never get soft due to these unfavorable conditions. A few days in a bag next to a banana will promote ripening.
The hormone produced by any fruit that helps them to ripen (called ethylene) will accelerate the process. However, the production of ethylene increases at higher temperatures and decreases at lower temperatures. So putting avocado in the fridge will reduce the production of ethylene, meaning that it takes far longer to ripen.
The good news is that, unlike non-climacteric fruits like citrus fruits or grapes, avocados produce ethylene after they’ve been picked or harvested. So, after a week, your avocados should have had more than enough time to ripen. If not, then it probably won’t get there.
Effectively this means that your fridge is too cool, and the ethylene production has stagnated. Instead, find a warmer (but not too warm) place to store the avocado until it has ripened. You can return it to the fridge at a later stage.
How Do You Pick Out Good Avocados?
Look for large, pear-shaped avocados and avoid anything with bruises, loose skin, or where the stems are showing signs of decay. If some parts of the avocado are harder than others, avoid these as they are likely to have been dropped or bruised during the transportation process. Bruised avocados do not ripen well at all.
Hold the avocado in the palm of your hand and give it a gentle squeeze (do not use your fingertips, which can squish it and ruin its consistency). Ideally, it should feel soft but firm and have dark green skin.
I hope you now know why your avocados are rotting before they ripen. Avocados really are incredibly healthy, and it’s no wonder that they are becoming more and more present in our diets. But eating them while they are perfectly ripe is an all-but-impossible task sometimes.
If you learn how to pick appropriately ripened avocados up from the market and store them properly at home, you stand a much better chance of enjoying a fresh, perfectly ripened avocado.