31 Days of Vegetables

Avocados: The Best Ways to Pick Them, Cook Them, and Eat Them

updated Jul 5, 2020
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

Is there any vegetable more delicious than an avocado? Avocados are so special, with their creamy, buttery innards, and ability to make almost any dish more luxurious. Here’s how to pick the best avocado out of a lineup, how to keep it fresh, all of our favorite avocado recipes, and more.

Is Avocado a Fruit or a Vegetable?

Botanically speaking, the avocado is most definitely a fruit. Like many other foods that are treated as vegetables, the avocado is botanically a fruit (develops from a flower; has a seed inside) and, like zucchini is basically a very large berry. But culinarily avocado is treated primarily like a vegetable, used in savory foods. That’s not to say you can’t put avocado in sweet things; we love to treat avocado like a true fruit and put it in a fruit salad or even in a chocolate pudding.

The Avocado Top 5

Love avocados? Here are five things you may not have heard (or may not have tried, yet!).

  1. Why you should wash your avocados.
  2. Avocado pickles are amazing.
  3. Remember this kid who was SO EXCITED about his avocado gift?
  4. In praise of avocado in scrambled eggs.
  5. The best pool floatie for avocado-lovers.

How to Choose the Best Avocados

When looking for a good avocado, gently press the avocado to see if it is firm but still yields slightly. Avoid avocados with large brown spots or squishy sections. A good avocado is often still pretty firm but able to be softly pressed all over.

How to Tell If an Avocado Is Ripe?

The best way to check and see if an avocado is ripe without cutting into it is to check under the stem cap. Here’s what a ripe avocado looks like:

How to Ripen Avocados

If you do buy an avocado that is too hard for your immediate guacamole fix, what do you do? Are there any shortcuts to ripening avocados? Probably not, sadly. We tested ripening an avocado in the oven here and found it didn’t really give us great results:

If you want to hurry along an avocado’s ripening over a day or so you can, however, put it in a paper bag with a banana (or an apple):

How to Store Whole Avocados

Unripe avocados can be stored on the countertop. Once ripe, however, avocados can be stored in the fridge to keep them at the right point of ripeness for several days. Basically, the refrigerator presses pause on the avocado ripening.

How to Store Cut Avocados

There is much debate about how to store a cut avocado without it browning quickly. As soon as an avocado is cut open and exposed to air it starts to brown. Here are a couple of options:

You can also use our absolutely reliable method for keeping guacamole fresh with water:

Credit: Dana Velden
How To Slice an Avocado

How to Peel and Cut an Avocado

Here’s how to take the pit out of an avocado like a pro, then peel it and cut it.

How to slice and dice an avocado:

Can You Freeze Avocado?

Yes you can freeze avocado! Especially if you want to use it later in something cooked (not fresh). Here are tips on freezing avocado:

  • Have You Ever Frozen an Avocado?

Also, some places are starting to sell frozen avocado. This frozen avocado is best smoothies and other cooked things.

How to Grow Avocado

Have you ever wanted to grow an avocado plant yourself? This post shows how to try to grow an avocado plant from the pit of an avocado.

When Are Avocados in Season?

You can find avocados in grocery stores all year round, right? That’s because avocados are in season basically year-round in Mexico. California’s avocados are in season from February to September (hitting their peak in the summertime) but you can find imported Mexican avocados at essentially any time of year.

The Best Ways to Use Up Leftover Avocados

Have some leftover avocados? Throw them in a smoothie or smash them into some plain yogurt. Or toss them into scrambled eggs. Or check out this roundup of favorite recipes:

Our Top 20 Avocado Recipes

What’s your favorite recipe or use for avocados? Any favorite way to cook it?

31 Days of Vegetables: How to fall in love with vegetables in 31 days. How many of these splendid veg have you eaten this month? Take a look at the whole list and take our July challenge to eat every single one!