GreenQueen Communications owner, Jodi Lynn Karpes, gives tips on how to get your avocados ready to eat at the perfect time and how you can keep your cut avocado fresh. Avocados are usually available year-round and are great for salads, guacamole and avocado toast.
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 are plucked off of the tree, which is why most market avocados have not fully ripened when you take them home. If you are 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 or wrapped in newspaper. The avocado produces ethylene gas as part of its ripening process, and the bag helps to concentrate it around the fruit and speed up the ripening.
It is important to use paper instead of plastic. Because of its porous nature, plastic will trap moisture, which can lead to mould, 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 are 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 colourless 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 is something about them that is 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 a sealable wrap. A tight seal is critical to preventing oxygen from reaching the flesh, thus preventing 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 pip is sealing.
- Refrigerating the avocado will slow down the enzymes that enable the browning reaction. This should be done in addition to wrapping the avocado with sealable wrap.
Countertop, fridge or freezer?
Until they are 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. Wash, peel and puree them and add a bit of lemon juice to your avocados before freezing. Pour the puree into a zippable/sealable wrap. It will last for several months.