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How to Tell if an Avocado is Bad

Max. D Gray
By Max. D Gray. Updated: January 25, 2021
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 these 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
  1. How to know if an avocado is good or bad
  2. How to know if an avocado is ripe
  3. How long do avocados last in the fridge?

How to know if an avocado is good or bad

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 know if an avocado is ripe

Follow these simply steps to know if an avocado is ripe:

  1. Observe the color: it shouldn't be bright green, nor too dark.
  2. Squeeze the avocado: a ripe avocado will be soft yet firm. If it is too hard, or mushy, it's not ripe.
  3. Take the cap off: to be certain, you can take its cap off, if it is ripe it should come off easily. Observe the color under the cap, if it is a nice green, it is ripe. If it's brown it has gone bad. And if it is yellow it isn't ripe yet.

Have a look at the image below to see the difference in the appearance of a ripe and unripe avocado.

How to Tell if an Avocado is Bad - How to know if an avocado is ripe
Image: Danielle Rancourt

How long do avocados last in the fridge?

Once ripe, the avocado will last 1-2 days. If uncut and placed in the fridge once ripe, it can last up to 3 days. This is why you must try to calculate when you will eat your avocado. This way, you know what state you want your avocados to be in once you buy them so they will be nice and ripe once you're ready to eat them!

You may also want to learn how to ripen an avocado with an oven or a microwave.

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

Write a comment
What did you think of this article?
Very helpful and so informative! Thanks!
Excellent article...very well written and I learn stuff which is cool!
Great article and I found it helped a lot!
OneHowTo Editor
We're so glad we could be of help!
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.
Why did you read it if it's so unhelpful? The article is about determining if a avacado is good or bad without cutting it open. Some people don't buy avacados often so it's helpful to those looking for ways to pick a good one while in the store. I don't know of anyone going in the store with a knife to cut one open.. Your belligerent comment is not only rude but inconsiderate to others and the author. Get some class woman.
Image: Danielle Rancourt
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How to Tell if an Avocado is Bad