Coming across a perfectly ripe avocado gives you a wonderfully delicious and versatile ingredient that can add extra flavor to your meals. But what happens when you go past that tiny window of opportunity to eat your avocado at its best? In this blog post, we discuss what makes a bad avocado and the ripening process, while answering the question, “are overripe avocados safe to eat?”
What are Overripe Avocados?
Overripe avocados don’t necessarily mean they’re spoiled, although they won’t taste just as good as fresh avocados. While some people choose to salvage them through avocado smoothies or to create masks for their hair and skin, overripe avocados aren’t digested easily and may cause digestive discomfort. Some symptoms associated with eating overripe avocados include cramping, gas, and bloating.
Below are a few ways to spot a rotten avocado, which include the sense of taste, smell, sight, and touch.
When avocado skin becomes dark, it may be an indication that it has gone bad. But keep in mind that there are varieties of avocados that get darker skin as they ripen, so if you’re not too sure that your avocado is bad, make sure by using another method. Moreover, the avocado’s exterior shouldn’t look or feel shriveled.
Dented Skin and Soft to Touch
Your avocado shouldn’t be overly soft — it should be firm but give slightly when you press your thumb or finger on the avocado. If the avocado is too soft or has skin that’s dented, you might be looking at an avocado that’s past its prime.
Bad Odor or Flavor
Check to see if your avocado has a bad smell — it shouldn’t have an unpleasant smell and should instead have a sweet, nice scent that’s both fruity and fresh. If it doesn’t smell like this or gives off a chemical smell, and has a sour taste, these are definite signs of spoilage and it should be thrown away.
Stringy and Dark Flesh
Cut the avocado open and look through the flesh of the avocado — it should have a bright green color along with a yellow tint. If the flesh is stringy and you see dark spots, it could be another bad sign. Moreover, avocado flesh should be creamy but firm and should have a mild taste.
Signs of Mold
There are many telltale signs that your avocado is no longer safe for consumption, and one is if you see mold on the outside or inside of your avocado once you open it. Don’t try to smell avocados with mold because you may end up inhaling mold spores which are bad for your health.
What Does a Ripe Avocado Look Like?
There are two main ways to tell whether or not your avocado is ripe; one is through its appearance, and the other is through its stem. Ripe avocado look like a darker fruit with a dark green color and the texture of the avocado will be bumpy while being soft yet firm at the same time. Some people also say that you can determine an avocado’s ripeness through its stem.
A ripe fruit will easily come off from the stem — if there’s resistance when you try to remove it, then it’s probably not ready to use yet. Another way to determine whether you have the perfect avocado or not is to give it a gentle squeeze. Once you have a firm avocado, it is ripe and will be ready to use on all your meals and recipes.
Below are different ways you can use to ripen your avocados.
In general, the avocados you see at the grocery store aren’t ripe yet; the reason behind this is that they’re picked while still firm and are also shipped this way. Doing this stops avocados from becoming too ripe so that they arrive in perfect condition. The best way to ripen your avocado is to keep it at room temperature in your kitchen, and it should ripen in a week.
Brown Paper Bag
To help unripe avocados become ripe, place them inside a brown paper bag and store them at room temperature. Doing this triggers a chemical reaction through the ethylene gas that’s trapped inside the bag when you roll the top down, speeding up the ripening of the avocado.
Using the Microwave
A faster way to ripen your avocado involves the use of your microwave. All you have to do is cut your avocado in half and remove the pit, then cook it inside your microwave for 30 seconds. Quickly put it in cold water once finished and it should be softer, and ready to be eaten.
How to Cut Avocado
Be sure to check the ripeness of an avocado before you make a cut into it. Here are the steps you can take to cut your avocado properly.
- Wash the whole avocado thoroughly using warm water and some mild soap to remove germs or debris. You may also use vinegar instead.
- Because avocados come with a bigger stone pit at their center, you’ll need to work your way around it as you cut your avocado. Opt for a sharp paring knife to cut it in half, turning your avocado in full circles to cut around the pit.
- Once you have both halves of the avocado, remove the pit using your hands or the knife. When an avocado is fully ripe, the pit should easily come out.
- You should now be able to scoop up the light green flesh and remove it from the skin. Now you can get started with cutting up your avocado any way you want — avocados can be diced, sliced, smashed, or chopped depending on your needs.
How to Store Your Avocados
There are two ways to store your ripe avocados, which involve putting them in cold temperatures inside the refrigerator or the freezer. Unfortunately, there’s such a small window of time for you to enjoy a good avocado, and is usually just five days when placed inside the refrigerator. Washing and smashing the whole thing and then placing it inside a freezer bag can extend your avocado’s shelf life to as long as three months.
Below is a quick guide on how to store avocados depending on their state.
Ripe avocados should be eaten as soon as possible, preferably the next day to ensure that the avocado’s flavor and nutritional value are at their best. However, they can be stored inside your refrigerator for up to five days. Storing cut ripe avocados can be a tricky business because they can get a brown color easily.
To store them safely, be sure to rub them in lemon juice, lime juice, or olive oil then store them in an airtight container and use plastic wrap to keep them from turning brown. While avocados are a good source of healthy fats, these will only keep their integrity for 24 hours or less.
Unripe avocados that haven’t been cut should be stored by the kitchen counter at room temperature, or by the windowsill where there’s mildly warm air. Be sure sure to monitor them and store them properly once they ripen. Cut unripe avocados need to be stored in the same way as ripe ones, so again drizzle some lime, lemon juice, or olive oil on them, then store them in the refrigerator. These are also best eaten within 24 hours.
Below are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding avocados and how they should be eaten.
How Long Do Avocados Take to Ripen?
The amount of time that an avocado takes to ripen will depend on its state and how it was stored. There are a few things you will need to consider when trying to determine the answer to this question, such as:
- Was it purchased from the grocery store?
- Did it grow on an avocado tree in your backyard?
- If it’s been picked, where has it been stored?
Once your avocado ripens, there’s a small frame of time between being fresh and becoming spoiled. When you’re in the process of ripening your avocado, pay attention to it and check for the right time when it becomes perfectly ripe.
How Long Does an Avocado Last?
Once your avocado becomes ripe, be sure to place it in your refrigerator immediately unless you plan to eat it right away. If you have a whole ripe avocado, it can last for as many as five days inside your refrigerator; cool temperatures can help to slow its ripening. But if you’re working with a cut avocado, it will have only 24 hours before it starts to show signs of spoilage.
Can You Eat Stale Avocado?
Spoiled or stale avocados shouldn’t be consumed and should be disposed of instead. If you have overripe avocados that doesn’t have an unpleasant smell and tastes as it should, then it’s safe to eat. But if you eat a bad avocado (one that has mold, a sour taste, or a smell), then you could get sick as a result.
Typically, the most common symptoms associated with eating spoiled avocado are nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and cramps, which are signs of food poisoning. As such, eating bad avocados isn’t worth the risk. If you think that you might have bad avocados, don’t eat them — if in doubt, it’s best to throw them out.
Is it Safe to Consume Brown Avocado Flesh?
The answer to this question will depend on a number of factors; if your avocado has brown parts without other signs of being spoiled, then it’s likely safe to eat. However, if you find other key indicators that give away a rotten avocado such as a bad taste or nasty smell, then it should be disposed of immediately. If there are only a few brown spots, then you may need to investigate a little bit since young avocado trees may produce avocados with a little brown inside.
While a few specks of brown won’t necessarily mean that an avocado is spoiled, a significant amount of black or brown in the avocado could mean that it’s turned bad.
Can You Eat Overripe Avocado?
There’s a difference between eating a spoiled avocado and overripe avocados, where the former can make a person sick. However, an overripe avocado isn’t likely to make people suffer from food poisoning, and it’s safe to consume them if there are no indicators pointing to spoilage. In fact, overripe avocados can work well for avocado brownies and smoothies where the avocado doesn’t need to keep a good appearance.
Can You Freeze Avocados?
You can freeze avocados, and the best time to do so is once they become completely ripe. All you need to do is wash them, then remove the pit and remove the skin. Next, mash or crush the avocado then place it inside a zip-lock bag. Label the bag and store it in your freezer where it can last for up to three months.
Frozen avocado can then be used as guacamole, a spread, or in recipes such as chocolate avocado pudding.
Don’t Be Afraid to Use Overripe Avocados
There you have it, now you know that overripe avocados are perfectly safe to eat, but only when they aren’t accompanied by other worrying signs such as a bad smell or taste. Be sure to inspect your avocado carefully before consuming it, and when in doubt, just throw it away rather than risk getting food poisoning. If you’re looking to salvage your overripe avocado, you can always use it for smoothies, brownies, or even its oil to make the most out of this versatile fruit.
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