A guide to the ripening process & getting the most out of your avocado+ some faq’s…
Avocados are classed as a super food – packed with over 20 vitamin and mineral nutrients, it’s easy to understand why.
They are full of monounsaturated fatty acids (the healthy type of fat) as well as being high in fibre.
Avocados are delicious, filling and enjoyed au naturale through to in en trend recipes such as avocado cheesecake and avocado mousse.
But avocados also have a reputation for being hard to manage…thankfully it really isn’t that complicated with a little background knowledge…here I address some faq’s…
How long will my avocado take to ripen?
In New Zealand, Hass avocado is the most common variety grown.
After successful pollination of flowers, the annual cycle of avocado fruit developing on the tree results in the fruit then being ‘ready’ to be picked from approximately July through to May the following year.
Until they’re picked, avocados don’t begin to ripen.
It’s important to bear in mind that the longer the fruit has been on the trees, the faster they will ripen when picked…
For example, fruit picked now in July will take approximately 12 days to ripen when picked, however by May next year, this fruit that has been on the tree all that time, will ripen within days of being picked.
Bear this in mind when determining how soon avocados will ripen through the season and as a guide, work on it taking approximately 1 day less than 12 days, per month, counting back from July-May, for them to ripen (ie. approximately a week at Christmas prep time).
Of course, this is if you’re buying fresh from a grower! At a large store, you won’t have the inside knowledge of when they were picked. This is another great opportunity to support a local hardworking grower or jump online to search for NZ growers you can support, that courier directly to your doorstep.
Where do I ripen my avocados?
To ripen avocados, pop them out of direct sunlight and not in the fridge, on the kitchen bench is perfect.
How do I know when they are ripe?
Check your ripening avocados d-a-i-l-y. The skin will change colour from bright green to darker green to a purplish-black at optimal eating time and be slightly soft to touch. (Black skin or very soft to touch indicates they have been left too long).
If the avocado still has a stem attached, this will become easier to ‘knock’ off as ripening occurs and the colour of the flesh you can see under the stem indicates what the avocado will be like inside.
Can I slow down the ripening process?
Once beginning to ripen, putting the avocado in the fridge will slow the ripening process by a few days at least, but no more than a week.
Can I speed up the ripening process?
If you want to speed up the ripening process, place the avocados in a fruit bowl with apples or bananas.
Can I stop my avocado browning when I’ve cut it open?
Once you have cut your avocado, add lemon or lime juice to prevent the browning process.
For longer periods like a few days, if you wish to store leftover avocado, the key is to stop air coming into contact with the avocado flesh. You could coat good quality cooking oil across the flesh, or wrap the avocado in film wrap or the like of your preference to prevent exposure to air. Putting the big round seed back in can help reduce air exposure to this centre part of the avocado.
Can I freeze avocado?
Absolutely. I chop avocados and freeze them for smoothies. Avocados can also be frozen directly in their skin by freezing them when they would be at optimal eating stage. Use them as they are ‘just’ defrosted, as the mushier they will become if left for a greater length of time defrosting. Follow proper guidelines as to how long they could be stored in a freezer.
What can I do if I’ve left my avocado too long?
At their optimal eating stage, the flesh of the avocado is a bright green (see my pic with the salt & pepper, ready to be devoured). Earlier they are pale green, hard and watery. After their prime, they begin to develop brown flecks in them, leading to more brownish parts. Parts of the avocado can be salvaged by cutting the brown parts off and the rest should be ok.
If they are really squishy but not brown, it’s a perfect time for some guacamole or getting more adventureous with one of the many beautiful recipes available, to make the most of them.
You can find a link to my Classic Homemade Guacamole recipe here.
Sadly, if they are brown inside, your avocado is too far gone.
If I have access to a tree, how will I know which fruit is to pick and what is the next year’s fruit?
The size of the fruit will indicate this – the earlier fruit will be bigger. However if you do have fruit still on late from one year and new fruit that is almost ready the next, it can become difficult to differentiate. Considering how delicious avocados are though, the chances of this happening are small. If unsure, check with the grower.
Could I be sold a ‘dud’ from the previous year…what happens to any fruit that doesn’t get picked by the end of its season?
Nature has a way of sorting this…it will just fall off. Then you will find virtually ripe avocados at your feet (if the birds don’t find them first!).
Happy avocado season!