Making Guacamole with Hard Avocados

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hard-avocados

Freshly picked California Hass Avocad0s

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Having lived on an avocado farm with my husband who has grown avocados for over 40 years, I must tell you up front that it is impossible to make guacamole with hard avocados.  That’s why I wanted to write this for you.    If you have found this post, you were probably searching for information about how to do that.

I don’t intend to mislead anyone, but if you really do want to learn more about avocados and how to have the best avocado experience ever,  bear with me and I’ll explain.

Rock Hard Avocados

The avocados in the photo above were just picked and they’re rock hard.  When a mature avocado is picked from the tree it IS rock hard.  Avocados are supposed to be hard.  The nice thing about a hard avocado is that you can take good care of it until it has softened and is perfect for eating.  I hesitate to use the word “ripe” because technically a hard avocado IS ripe.  It needs time to soften before it can be eaten.

perfect-Fuerte

This Fuerte avocado is perfect.

Ripe Avocados

The indication of ripeness in an avocado is the oil content.  Oil?  Yes!  At the beginning of a new crop season (in December here in California) the state samples various sizes and varieties of avocado to determine the oil content.  Unless that avocado has the right amount of oil,  it won’t soften at all.  It will just turn rubbery.  Nothing anybody would want to eat.  So even if an avocado looks ready in November,  don’t pick it!

Avocado Oil Content

The minimum amount of oil is just enough to make the avocado edible.  If you want really  good avocado flavor (you do, don’t you?) then you must wait a few more months for the oil in the avocado to increase.  I’m talking about the Hass variety right now, because they are the ones found most commonly in stores.  If you can find other varieties like Bacon or Fuerte that are short season winter avocados,  then you will want to go ahead and eat them between December and March.   If you love Reed avocados ( the ones that look like cannon balls) you have to wait for  July, because that’s when they will be mature enough to pick.

Best Time to Eat California Hass Avocados

Hass Avocados can be very tasty in February and March…but if you can wait until April – August,  you’ll get the really delicious flavor and creamy consistency that makes a Hass avocado perfect for salads,  sandwiches, or guacamole.  The oil content continues to increase as the the avocado hangs in the tree, so if you get a Hass avocado that was picked later in the summer,  it will be  even more buttery and creamy.  It will also soften sooner.  (Try California Fuerte avocados  in December-March…they’re amazing!)

How Long Until an Avocado is Soft Enough to Eat?

Since it’s the oil content that allows the avocado to soften,  you will find that fresh picked avocados will take longer to soften in the early months of the year.   Sometimes up to 2 weeks!  If you are buying your avocados in a grocery store,  they might have been picked 2 weeks ago…or 1 week ago…or even longer if they were shipped in from another country.  Sometimes the avocados are kept in cool storage (to keep them from softening) and they get TOO cold.  Then they may not soften at all,  or you might find red spots in the avocados. For more information about ripening avocados,  read The Secret For Perfectly Ripened Avocados.

What to Do with Hard Avocados

The best thing to do with hard avocados is to WAIT.  I know, you wanted your guacamole for tonight’s party.  We have the same problem here on the ranch.  If I want avocados to serve for guests who are coming tomorrow, I needed to pick them a week ago.   Avocados are just like that … they  help us develop our skills for planning ahead!  The best way to be sure to have ripe avocados when you want them is to keep a few on the counter at all times.  If they begin to soften a day or two early, put them in the refrigerator.   Just buy a few California avocados several times a week and you’ll be covered.

giftboxFuerteAvocados

What About the Paper Bag?

Yes, you can put your avocados into a brown paper bag with an apple or banana.  The natural ethylene gas released by the fruits will hasten the softening of the avocado.  But please don’t put that paper bag on a sunny windowsill, as a popular magazine recently reported.  Avocados do not need to be exposed to heat or sun, and doing so may change the flavor or ruin them entirely.  In fact,  farmers go to great lengths to keep the avocados from getting cooked in the sun after they are picked.  If you try the paper-bag-method,  just put the paper bag on your kitchen counter.

1228_0191small

The paper bag will hold in the natural ethylene gas released by the ripening fruit, and help the avocados soften a day or so sooner.

What If I Cut It Too Soon?

Even the most experienced avocado-philes (myself included) can make an innocent mistake.  You pick up the avocados one by one, hoping that you will find one that is perfect for eating right away.  You gently squeeze each one…could this be it?  Hmmm…maybe this one is ready.  Should I cut it and find out?  At this point you have to decide whether you are willing to take the risk.  If the avocado “gives” slightly as you gently squeeze it,   you are probably okay to go ahead and cut it.  If the green Hass avocado color has darkened to a blackish green and it definitely feels soft when you gently squeeze it,  you are good to go.  If the skin has some dimples in it and it’s black and feels squishy when you squeeze, you have waited too long.   Go ahead and cut it open, but cut off the bad spots or the flavor of your guacamole will be affected.

But what if you decide to cut that avocado and when you twist the halves apart you realize that it was too early for the fruit to be soft enough to eat?   I have heard that some people just put that avocado into a smoothie.  We have tried putting the two halves back together (with the pit still intact) hoping that it will still soften.  I can tell you that it doesn’t really work well.

peas

Please Don’t Put Peas in My Guacamole

Most Outrageous Thing I Have Read Lately

Another solution that I read in a magazine is to make guacamole by putting the hard avocado  in a blender with a cup of peas.   Honestly, I am still shaking my head over that one.   In the first place, an avocado that has not softened is not going to taste like  ripened avocado.   Be honest if you are going to talk about making guacamole, please.  I can understand that well-intentioned avocado marketing folks would like to tell the world to buy avocados and make guacamole.  But what happens if someone actually believes that a hard avocado can be put into the blender with peas?   I  called my friend Rachael at La Fuji Mama,  who is a one of the most well-informed avocado lovers I know, and read the magazine excerpt to her.  After we both stopped laughing, we just couldn’t get over  that anyone would print such misinformation.

What Questions Do You Have About Eating Avocados?

There was a time when I didn’t even know how to cut an avocado open and eat it.  I was born and raised in Vermont and came out to California to attend graduate school, but stayed after I found a job.   I had no reason to wonder about avocados until one evening when I met The Farmer at a social event for singles. He had been farming avocados for ten years when we met.   Out of curiosity I innocently asked him if avocados grow on bushes!   Now that we’ve been married for 33 years and have spent the whole time farming avocados,  I think I can answer a few questions about avocados myself!   I’ll be glad to help anyone who wants to ask about ripening, cutting, slicing or preparing avocados.  Just leave your questions in the comments, or come visit me on Facebook, Twitter , Pinterest or Instagram.

Don’t Try to Make Guacamole With Hard Avocados, Please

If you want to know how we make guacamole for a party,  here’s the post I wrote about that.  How We Make Guacamole For a Large Party    No matter how much we might wish that rock hard avocados could be made into guacamole, it just isn’t true.

By the way,  we do ship our fresh California avocados direct to avocado lovers all over the USA.   If you’re interested,  check out CaliforniaAvocadosDirect.com for boxes of fresh avocados, including Hass, Fuerte, and Reed avocados in season.


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55 Comments

  1. Lately, all the avocados I have been getting are not soft when I buy them, but I let them sit for a few days on the counter. Once they start to feel soft enough to serve, sometimes too soft to eat for anything other than guacamole, I will slice and the outside is much, but the inside is hard and won’t even come away from the pit. Any idea what is happening? Or what I might be doing wrong?

    • Hi Trish, We have had similar experiences with the larger avocados this year, probably due to the weather this past year. I don’t think you are doing anything wrong. It sounds like you are doing everything right: buy hard green avocados, let them soften on your kitchen counter. It is July now, so the oil content will be higher in the fruit from southern California. Flavor should be delicious!

  2. But you didn’t tell us what to do with a rock hard avo that has been cut open too early.

    Deep fry? Stir fry? Bake? With what? Salt and pepper? Lemon juice? Anything else?

    • Compost. Or let the dog play with it. If you really did cut it open too early (and it’s an easy mistake to make, I have done it many times) then the best thing to do is learn from the mistake, take a deep breath, and accept the reality. So sorry. Avocados just aren’t good to eat until they soften.

  3. After IRMA my yard was covered with Fla. Avocados, over a hundred. Alas, they appear unripe and I hope the suggestions for using them work out.

    • So sorry to hear about the avocado loss! We often have big winds in the winter, and if the avocados are mature enough we can pick them up off of the ground. However, sometimes the fruit isn’t mature so it’s a complete loss.

  4. You can chop the avocado in half then cover the open side with cling wrap and put it in the microwave for 3 1/2mins. Then let It cool down then scoop it out. And it’s perfect

    • Cooked avocado just won’t taste the same as an avocado that has been allowed to soften. Think of a green banana cooked in the microwave…just won’t taste the same as a ripe banana, even if it’s soft.

  5. Great and thanks to learn so much about avocados from your blog.

    I had inherited two avocado trees from the previous owner. When we first moved in the owner told us that there were only a handful avocados on the trees.

    Last year spring (Sep in Western Ausralia), there’s a great bloom and we had one tree full of avocados. It did fall off to the ground during the early stage (almost 100s of them). Now the fruits had grown big and we had harvested some to eat. The issue is that the fruit is not creamy. Is it because the oil content is not enough and I need to keep it on the tree longer? I need to prune the trees in August to prepare for the bloom in Spring again. Can I keep it on the tree in Spring.

    Please advise and thanks.

    • Let me think about those dates, as I know your seasons are opposite to ours. We do not prune trees to prepare for bloom. The pruning we do is to get ready for harvest…taking out the dead wood. Once in a while we remove a limb that is growing into the road, but we usually wait for the fruit to be harvested first. Our fruit sets in the spring, and begins to be ready to harvested 9-10 months later, but the oil content isn’t very high so the fruit isn’t creamy and the flavor is bland. If we wait another 3 to 6 months later, the fruit is much nicer. So 10 – 18 months after the fruit sets is probably correct.

      By the way, lots of baby avocados do fall off the trees. The tree just cannot handle that many babies, when they are going to grow to weight 8-16 ounces each!

  6. Thank You for the facts.
    We just had a hurricane that took out our “old faithful” avo tree. We are in Bermuda. This tree usually sets in April/May and the fruit are mature starting in late Sept/October through December. We now have about 6 grocery bags of hard fruit. About 1/3 of them are arount 60 t0 75% the weigt of mature fruit. The rest are 25 to 50% the weight of mature fruit. The ripe fruit are the shape and size of your Hass but with shiny green skin.
    Is there any point in trying to ripen them or should they just go into the compost?
    From your info above, I am guessing there is simply not enough oil content yet and they will never ripen.
    Seems from what you say

    • I’m not familiar with your avocado season in Bermuda. I’m so sorry for all the destruction that happened to you. The avocados will probably not have enough oil content to soften and be edible. So sorry.

  7. Before I run across your page I read that if you rap hard avocados in tin foil and put them in the oven at 200° for 10 minutes they should soft and depending on how hard the avocado is it may take up to an hour but it said it increases the ethanol process in the hyperdrive

  8. Ok, thank you

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