ES Inbox: Avocado Conundrum

avocado love

ES Inbox is an occasional occurrence when a reader sends us a question and we have no fucking idea what the answer is. Please helps us look good by providing guidance in the comments.

Dear Gansie,

I have had the same 3 avocados sitting in the vegetable drawer in my fridge since New Year’s Eve (unforgivable, I know, but I forgot they were there–all the kale and collard greens kept them hidden.)I didn’t want to just throw them out (that would be truly unforgivable), so I decided to take a look at what exactly happens inside of a 6 week old avocado.

I was expecting a funky smelling, completely black pile of mush. Instead, they were absolutely PERFECT! I mashed ’em up and had feta guac for lunch.

But how did this happen? Do I have a magic fridge? Or do avocados have an unusually long shelf life of which I was heretofore unaware?

As the foremost avocado expert in the blogosphere, do you think you could explain this? I’m at a loss.

Quizzically yours,

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  • LuckyUnicorn February 25, 2010  

    “Published May 1, 2009. From Cook’s Illustrated.

    Avocados have a notoriously small window of perfect ripeness. To see if we could broaden this time frame, we bought a case of unripe avocados and ripened them at room temperature and in the refrigerator three ways: on the counter (or refrigerator shelf), enclosed in a paper bag, and enclosed in a paper bag with pieces of green apple (fruit gives off ethylene gas, which helps many fruits and vegetables ripen more quickly). We also tried two more esoteric techniques: burying the avocados at room temperature in flour and in rice. In the end, the only thing that mattered was the temperature at which the avocados were stored.

    At room temperature, rock-hard avocados ripened within two days, but many of them ended up ripening unevenly, developing soft spots and air pockets on one side just as the other side was ripening. After completely ripening, they lasted two days on average if kept at room temperature (stored in the fridge after ripening, they lasted five days). Avocados ripened in the refrigerator, whether in a bag or out in the open, took around four days to soften, but did so evenly. Stored in the fridge, they lasted a full five days before starting to show signs of over-ripening.

    The bottom line: If you need your avocados to ripen sooner rather than later, keep them on the counter. Otherwise, for better quality, you’re better off putting them in the fridge and allowing them to ripen slowly. In either case, store the ripened fruit in the fridge to extend shelf life.”

    This still doesn’t explain them lasting almost two months. Perhaps it was the deep chill of the crisper drawer and insulation by dark, leafy greens…..

  • Summer February 25, 2010  

    I eat a lot of avocados, both Haas and Florida greens, so I’ve dealt with avocados at all stages of the ripening-rotting cycle. I’ve never kept an avocado for six weeks, though, so I can only guess that the avos in question were rock-hard unripe when they went into the fridge. It seems that avocados are shipped and stored refrigerated until they actually hit the produce shelf at the store, which inhibits quick ripening.

    As to what happens when an avocado goes over-ripe, it will rot inside (you can tell because the skin will feel hollow), but before that happens, it will develop thin brown roots through the flesh. For some reason, Florida green avocados do this more readily and profusely than Haas avocados. The avocado is still edible with the roots in the flesh, they just look a bit disconcerting.

    When I buy avocados, I let them sit on the counter. If I don’t eat them before they hit perfect ripeness, I’ll stash them on a shelf of the fridge… but I’ve never let them linger for more than a few days before I devour them!

  • dad gansie February 25, 2010  

    Who knows how that happened.

    Come on SS. Are you pulling our legs??

    Yea, some Rock hard ones have lasted for a few weeks, never 6-7

    try the kale cover again. Maybe you’ll be a new famous inventor

  • erica March 2, 2010  

    I agree w/summer. they ripen much slower in the fridge, it must have been completely unripe when bought to last so long. i buy two avocados per week; when i get home one goes on the counter to be eaten in the next few days, the other in the fridge to be put on the counter once i eat the first ‘cado.

    pS – HOW on earth does one forget three avocados??? 😉

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