How to Tell if an Avocado is Bad

How to Tell if an Avocado is Bad

Avocados ripen after they are harvested, not before, so you can find them in the market at every stage of their ripening process. We all have bought a perfect-looking avocado only to come home and discover that under that perfect skin it's completely spoiled. On the other hand, some doubtful-looking avocados can turn out to be perfect surprises.

In order to help you prevent vegetable mishaps, in this oneHOWTO article we'll discuss how to tell if an avocado is bad, as well as how to slow down the ripening process and how to choose the right avocado.

You may also be interested in: How to Ripen an Avocado in the Oven or Microwave
Steps to follow:

In order to tell if an avocado is bad, the first thing you need to do is to check it from outside. To select the right avocado, you should consider the following:

  • Color: A ripe avocado is dark green, with purple hues. A bright green avocado will be unripe and tasteless, while a dark brown or black avocado will be overripe or even rotten.
  • Look: Check the avocado's skin for dents, cracks, breaks and spots. These are all signs of bad bruising or that the avocado is bad.

If the avocado passes those tests - and even if it doesn't as brown spots can be a harmless bruise - you can check its consistency. There are many varieties of avocado of different sizes and colors, but firmness is always a good way to tell if an avocado has gone bad.

Hold it gently on the palm of your hand and squeeze very, very gently: do not use your thumb or your fingertips, as you will bruise it. If an avocado is bad, it will yield too easily to pressure, hold marks, have mushy or hollow spots or even cave in. A hard avocado is unripe. The perfect avocado should be slightly yielding, but not soft.


An excellent tip to tell if an avocado is bad is to try and remove the stem or cap. If the avocado is ripe but not spoiled, the stem will come away easily and reveal green flesh.

If you see brown, it's overripe; if you see black or mushy flesh, the avocado is rotten and you should throw it away. On the other hand, if the stem doesn't peel back easily, it is still unripe and you should leave it for a couple of days.


If you aren't sure whether the avocado is bad, a surefire way to know if it's spoiled is by using your other senses:

  • Smell: a ripe avocado should smell slightly sweet. If the avocado smells musky, moldy or rancid, it's rotten and unfit to eat.
  • Listen: when an avocado is overripe, the flesh loosens up from the pit. If you shake it and hear a faint rattling, it's not good anymore.

If your avocado has passed all those tests, or you want to make sure, now is the time to open it in half. A ripe avocado has green flesh, darker near the skin and lighter around the pit. Brown or grayish flesh means that the avocado is bad. Still, some discoloration around the pit is normal and not a sign of rot.

Sometimes, overripe or spoiled flesh appears in dark strings or spots, which develop from the top - near the stem - downwards, as you can see in the picture. Luckily, it's easy to cut those parts away and enjoy the rest of the green-colored avocado. If an avocado has browned after cutting it open, it is the result of oxidation, not of spoilage. You can cut away the top brown layer and save the rest.

How to Tell if an Avocado is Bad - Step 5

Remember, rotten does not mean overripe. An overripe avocado is not good to eat alone, but it hasn't gone bad: you can use it in smoothies, sauces and spreads, jam, guacamole and even beauty treatments like hair masks, even if they won't look as bright green as they should. You can tell that an avocado is rotten by the bad smell.


If the avocado is unripe...

To save an unripe avocado that you have cut open to check it, you can speed up the ripening process by keeping it in a paper bad together with an apple (or a banana) for a couple of days. These fruits release an hormone called ethylene that will get trapped in the bag and trigger the ripening of the avocado.

If the avocado is ripening too fast...

You can store avocados and make them last for longer regardless if they have been cut or not. If the ripening avocado has been opened, leave the pit in and sprinkle the exposed flesh with lemon, orange or lime juice to prevent the oxidation process. Close it again as far as possible and wrap it with clingy plastic or place it in a contained: keep it in the fridge. If uncut, simply store it in the fridge.

In the fridge, avocados can last for about four days (less if they have been opened) without going bad.

Now that you know how to tell if an avocado is bad, don't miss the following articles:

How to Tell if an Avocado is Bad - Step 7

If you want to read similar articles to How to Tell if an Avocado is Bad, we recommend you visit our Food & drink category.

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1 comment
If it takes any human being seven steps to tell if their avocado is bad, they shouldn't be eating one. It only takes one step! Just open it up and look at it for goodness sake. Did the author have to write x amount of words for his article? Silliest subject matter ever.
So, should everyone carry a knife into the grocery store and cut open the avocados before buying them? The article is helpful to someone who doesn't know avocados.

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