The Secret For Perfectly Ripened Avocados



Holy GuacamoleWe mixed up some guacamole for the “End-Of-Summer” Kick-Off  Party of our church choir last weekend.  As you may know, I’m the director of the group, which has grown to include up to 65 members.  When they get together for a party with spouses, we often have 80 – 100 people!   How do you manage to have enough ripe avocados on the same day to make guacamole and sliced avocados for a crowd like that?      I’ll give you the scoop on how we do it … it takes some planning and strategy to manage that many avocados!

First we have to decide when to pick the avocados.  You probably know that avocados do not begin to soften until they are picked from the tree.  They will stay hard as long as they are still on the tree.   Once they leave the tree,   the ripening time depends on several things.   We planned to use Hass avocados,  which are usually harvested in California between April and September.

Maturity:  Early in the season the oil content is lower than later in the season.  The maturity of the fruit will allow it to soften sooner.  Since our party was in August,  we knew it might not take as long for the fruit to soften as it would in April.   We also knew that the fruit  would be more buttery,  since the oil content is high at this time in the season.   It’s tricky to figure out exactly when to pick the avocados if we want them to be ripe on a certain day.   We decided to pick our avocados for the party one week before we needed them to be ripe.   If the party had been in April,  we probably would have picked them 10-14 days before we needed them.

picking avocados

This is my blogging friend Colette of “Learning To Eat Allergen Free”…she visited this summer and learned how to use a picking pole to get the avocados high up in the tree.

 Storing the Avocados:   Once the avocados are picked, we have to take special care of them  if we want to be sure they are all ripe on a certain day.  Some will ripen faster and some will take more time.   Lay them out in a single layer in a box if you want to slow down the ripening and eat them one by one.   Check them every day,  and when they’re beginning to soften,  check them twice a day!    If you want to speed up the process,  put some in a brown paper bag with a banana or apple,  and the natural ethylene gas emitted by the fruit will enable the avocados to soften.   This is not a hard-and-fast rule…it may or may not speed up the ripening by a day or two, depending on the maturity of the avocados.

fresh avocados

Hass avocados are green and rock hard when they are first picked.

When I take avocados to Vermont,  we put them in the cool basement (45 degrees) and bring them upstairs as they just begin to “break”…no longer rock-hard.  Early in the season (when the avocados aren’t as mature and the oil content is less) the avocados will stay hard and green for two weeks or more in the cool basement.  Upstairs we’ll put 2 or 3 in a brown paper bag (and carefully monitor their softening so that we can eat them when they’re perfectly ready.)   We may put several in a bowl…sometimes they ripen just as fast as the ones in the bag.  It is very important to watch the avocados daily if you want to eat them at peak ripeness.

unripe avocados

This box was full when we started, and each day we removed the avocados that were beginning to soften. The skin of Hass avocados also darkens as the fruit ripens.

Here in our kitchen in Southern California,  we keep some on the counter and eat them as they ripen…usually two or three at a time.  When we want to have a large quantity of avocados ripe on the same day,  we  put them all in a box and keep them  in the house (since the garage is pretty warm here in August).

avocados on the counter

These have been sitting out on the counter and are ready to eat…they’ll yield to slight pressure when you hold them in your hand and press gently with your thumb.

When we’re trying to ripen a huge quantity of avocados for a special occasion,   some will ripen earlier than others.   When they are just about ready to eat (and not over-ripe) we put them into the refrigerator for a day or two…not longer.   They will be fine for guacamole or slices,  but will taste better if brought to room temperature before eating.   We never refrigerate our avocados unless we’re trying to save a large quantity for a party.  Important to note:  do not refrigerate avocados unless they are ripe and ready to eat.  The refrigerator is too cold to allow a hard avocado to ripen.

avocados stored in refrigerator

Put avocados in the refrigerator when they are barely ripe if you need to hold them for a day or two. Do not let them get over ripe before refrigerating.

Review:  Various stages of avocado  ripeness are happening at one time, even if the avocados were picked on the same day:  1. Rock hard (in a box or bowl)

2.  Beginning to soften (in a single layer on the counter or in a box)

3.  Just about ripe  (monitor them so they don’t become over ripe!)

4. Ripe and ready (holding them in the refrigerator)

On the day of the party,  all the ripe avocados come out of the refrigerator to be cut and peeled.  It’s important not to use any avocados that have become over-ripe, mushy, discolored or have a strong odor.   An over-ripe avocado has an off-taste and odor…and it ruins a batch of guacamole!   Sometimes we just have to eat some avocados before they go “over-the-hill”,  even if we were hoping to save them for a party.  A perfectly ripe avocado deserves  to be eaten!

If your avocados look like this one,  you have waited too long.  Don’t let this happen to your beautiful California avocados!  Eat them when they’re perfect!

overripe avocado

An avocado that’s dimpled, and very soft is over ripe. Sorry, too late.

If you cut open an avocado and find that it’s mushy just next to the skin,  you can probably scrape that mushy part off and still use the rest of the fruit.   The avocado should not have a strong odor.

over ripe and mushy

The left side of this avocado is “over the hill”…but I would scrape off the mushy part and use the rest. The right side is still fine. The brown spot (lower right) should not be eaten.

Perfectly ripe avocados can be peeled…I don’t like to scoop out the flesh with a spoon because the most nutritious part of the avocado is next to the skin.  Any bad spots will usually stick to the skin when the peel is pulled away from the flesh.  If you scoop the fruit,  you can’t tell where the bad spots might be.

Here is a perfectly ripe avocado! The flesh is soft but still firm…not mushy…and still a beautiful green color! This is how you want your avocados to look when you eat them!

perfect avocado

A perfectly ripe avocado is still firm, not mushy, and will peel like this!

Now that we have ripe avocados, we’re ready to start making the guacamole.    Stay tuned for Part 2,  How We Make Guacamole for a Large Party!

peeled avocados

Avocados have been cut, pit removed and peeled…it’s guacamole time!

For more information about ripening avocados:   Making Guacamole With Hard Avocados

Summer on the Ranch: Avocado Harvest!

Want to order fresh California avocados from our farm?   California Avocados Direct







Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  1. Hi,

    I had an interesting Avocado question:

    You mentioned “red spots” in your Avocado. Is this ok to eat? I get that it would not be ideal, but is it safe? I LOVE Avocados and cannot believe that I have not come across a Avocado with red spots in it before today. I was not sure if I should throw it away. I appreciate your time and feedback, Thank you, Christina

    • Yes, what it the red on the inside of the avocado? It is very bright red and a little freaky to me.

      • I have seen the little red spots that you mention, but very rarely here on our farm. I have noticed that people are searching online for an answer as to what they might be. It’s probably a chemical reaction within the fruit that causes the color. I know there are tannins in the seed, which might have something to do with it. It is definitely not spoiled fruit, as bruising is usually a brown color. Sometimes avocados turn reddish/purplish colors on the skin when they have been kept in a cooler for a long time, or at too low of a temperature. The tiny little bits of red inside the fruit (that can almost look like blood)…that’s what I think you mean, right? I’m still trying to find an answer to that one. Will let you know when I do!

      • Here is more information about the red on the inside of the avocado: It is called “Pink Staining” and can range from pink to purple, can be concentrated into small spots. It is due to growing conditions, either too much cold or too much heat during the growing cycle, according to someone named Thorp (1997). It is not harmful. (Just cut it out of the fruit if it seems freaky.)

  2. Hi Mimi, loved reading your blog! So much helpful information! We are thoroughly enjoying our avacados! The girls still love the “baby” avacado and are taking such good care of it. Don’t know if it will ripen or just be loved to mush! So much fun making memories with you!

    • Thanks for leaving a comment, Joy! It was such a beautiful day to share with you and the family at the ranch! Thank you for the wonderful fruit salad too! Looking forward to more fun times together. (The baby avocado probably will just get rubbery–)

  3. Hello, Mimi!

    I always buy green, rock-hard avocados (usually 3–to last 1 week), from the supermarket, and I’ve been wondering: is there anyway to slow down the ripening process and/or have them ripen at different times, so that they don’t have to be held ripe in the fridge for so many days?


    • Hi Beth! The avocados in the grocery store have probably been kept in cold storage already. I’m glad you get them green and rock hard! It is best to leave them out on the counter until they are just about ready to eat — then eat them all! If you need to make them last, the crisper drawer of the fridge is the best place to put them, but not until they are ready to eat (still a bit firm). When I take avocados to Vermont, we are able to make them last for a couple of weeks by putting the green hard ones into the laundry room in the basement where it is cool. Then we bring them upstair as we need them. They all do eventually ripen though. Here in California we keep them in the air conditioned house, but that doesn’t slow them down. Hope this helps. Best to just eat them and buy more!

  4. I am so happy to stumble across your website. I have finally identified our little avocado that is making it’s first fruit this year as a Reed. I have been watching my 15 avocados disappear as the squirrels are aware of them too. I want to let them get bigger on the tree, they have been there for months. So if I understand correctly these will grow on the tree for a year so really not ready to harvest til next Sept? That is what I can’t figure out, when to pick! Would love to keep the squirrels from getting them too! Thank you, Meridee

    • I have some past experience with Reeds. Squirrels were not a problem in S. California years ago, but they have moved in more and more. Haas has thicker skins than Reeds, but even they are now being eaten by squirrels. My experience with Haas is that the little bites taken out don’t affect the quality of the fruit. You can let them ripen and then cut out that part. Yes, Reeds take two years, and can be picked in August or Sept.

      • Our Reeds have very leatherly skins – even thicker than Hass! Squirrels cause a lot of damage — their holes and tunnels get filled with water when it rains — erosion happens because of squirrels! We pick up avocados that have little tooth marks in them too — but we can’t sell those. Just cut off the bad end and use the rest, just as you said.

        • Hi Mimi:

          I’ve often wondered if they could come up with some sort of hot pepper spray that you could put on them, to keep the squirrels away.

        • The Farmer says to trap the squirrels and ‘relocate them’ — I don’t know if you could spray the whole tree with something and not affect the leaves’ transpiration.

  5. Dear Mimi,

    I am so happy to find you! I have two avocado trees in the yard. One is over 50 years old and neighbors tell me at one time a great producer but it seems to have quit. In the 15 years we have lived here we have had it produce little pickle sized avocados then only two big ones last year. Do I need to cut it down and start over? The second question is this: the little tree has finally produced its first fruit and they are Reeds. How long do they take to grow to picking stage? There are baseball sized ones on it now and the squirrels are being bad. I don’t want the squirrels to get them all but I don’t want to pick them if they are not going to ripen. Help!

    Thank you, Meridee

    • If they are Reeds, they will not be ready to eat until June or July. The older tree might be a Fuerte. With water and fertilizer it might produce — hard to tell. It needs to bloom in the spring, but for good bloom it has be tended during the previous year.

  6. Thank you for this post. Having read about great avocados, I started purchasing them from the stores here in South India, but had always to settle for the bitter taste and I used all the sugar to hide the bitterness. Thanks to this post, I am for first time eating avocados with its neutral buttery taste. Thanks again.

  7. Avocado rich in several B vitamins and vitamin K, with good content of vitamin C, vitamin E, and potassium. That’s why I prefer avocado:) Thx for sharing!

  8. Love avocado. Avocados offer nearly 20 vitamins and minerals, that’s why I prefer it!

  9. I absolutely LOVE avocados! I am jealous of your avocado trees! Thank you for letting us know that the most nutritious part of the avocado is next to the skin! I had no idea! I will never scoop out the avocado again!
    taylor johnson @tayloright recently posted..Best Drain CleanersMy Profile

  10. I’m putting an avocado in a paper bag, rice bin or other sealed container can help speed up the ripening process at home.

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.