There are too many fruits and vegetables that are downright awful if you eat them before they ripen. Moreover, some can make you sick. On the other hand, in cases like bell peppers, the different colors are different stages of ripeness, and you can eat them at any stage. What about the avocado. We’ve all sliced into a seemingly ripe avocado only to find that it’s unpleasantly tough and not ripe at all. What should you do about that? Can you ripen it, or eat it before it reaches the fully ripened stage? No one wants to throw out good food after all, but you don’t want to get sick either. I’ll explain everything you need to know about this unusual and un-sweet green berry. Plus, I’ll give you some tips on how to pick, ripen and eat them as well.
Can you eat unripe avocados? You can eat unripe avocados. If they are too tough to chew, then you can soften avocados in the oven, or even bread and fry them to change the texture. Although doing this won’t be the same as eating a fully ripe avocado, it’s perfectly safe and can be quite tasty when cooked in a unique way.
How to Choose Avocados
Before we talk about how to make those unripe avocados into a tasty snack, let’s roll back the clock and look at how to avoid this problem in the future first. Many people swear by a specific exterior color. While it’s true that a brown outside is a better indication of your avocados’ ripeness than green, that is not a foolproof system.
Although the USDA has placed the humble avocado in the vegetable category, botanically speaking, they are a fruit, and specifically, avocados are berries. A ripe avocado feels a little squishy to the touch when you squeeze gently. Be careful not to crush them, or you’ll bruise that lovely, lightly nutty green fruit inside.
The small nub of stem you find on avocados at the grocery store can also help you determine the ripeness. If you push gently with your thumb and the stem-nub doesn’t pop off, it’s probably not quite ripe. Meanwhile, those that have lost their nubs in transit may be ripe or even overripe.
You can still use overripe avocados to make guacamole. Remove any brown and bruised parts and blend up the rest. Once you add your lemon juice, garlic, and other flavors, no one will know the difference. Plus, overripe avocados are exceptionally creamy.
Typically it takes two to five days to ripen a grocery store avocado. Do not simply place them in the refrigerator. The cold temperature halts, or at least significantly reduces the ripening speed of your avocados. Though this is a great way to preserve them a few days longer before you cut into them, it’s not an excellent way to get them ready to eat.
Instead, you want to get a small paper bag and put your avocados inside. It’s okay if you don’t have a small bag. You can fold a large one just as easily. Put two to three unripened avocados and a green banana or two inside the bag and close it.
After that, you need to leave them on the counter for a few days. Make sure to check regularly, so you don’t end up wasting any of your fruit. Ripening bananas and avocados together works like a charm every time.
Heating Unripe Avocados
So you’ve cut into an unripe avocado, and now you’re not sure you can eat it. The good news is that you can, but the hard texture and lack of flavor might make you hesitate. Don’t throw it away just yet. You can heat those avocados and make tasty food out of them.
Sadly, the bad news is that they’re not going to make flavorful guacamole. You can still make one unripe avocado into a workable batch with other ripe versions. It will cut the flavor down slightly. By slicing it and heating your avocado in the oven at three-hundred degrees for ten minutes, you can maintain the texture and use that less than ripe avocado.
I recommend thick slices. Additionally, you’ll want to squeeze a little lemon onto your avocados. Place your pieces on a baking sheet lined with baking paper to avoid messes. Unfortunately, using a glass or dark-nonstick pan can take longer, resulting in less pleasant tasting avocados.
Raw, unripe avocado tends to be a little bitter, so make sure you use it with lemon or add it to other riper fruits. Also, adding it to salsa with spicy jalapeno will help cut the spice of your peppers a little while masking the light bitterness of your avocados.
Some people recommend heating unripe avocado slices in the microwave. You can do this thirty seconds at a time until they reach the correct consistency. However, I don’t suggest this method. It’s far too easy to overshoot the mark, plus microwaves tend to heat unevenly.
Storing Your Avocados
Once you’ve cut a ripe avocado, leave the seed in the part you don’t plan to eat right away. A little lemon juice will help prevent it from turning brown overnight. You can also wrap it tightly in plastic wrap to cut down on air exposure and prevent it from picking up flavors from your fridge. However, you should eat these within a day or two for best results.
I prefer to keep mine in airtight Tupperware. If you have oxygen removers on hand, tossing one inside your container will help. By pulling out the O2 that causes skin oxidation and turns your avocados brown, they will last a little longer if you’re not ready to eat them the next day.
The citric acid in your lemon halts the deterioration of the green avocado. Likewise, leaving that pit inside your fruit helps prevent it from being exposed to oxygen and thus beginning to rot. You can also use a thin knife to remove any brown on the outside of your cut avocados.
If you’ve sliced into a less than ripe avocado, you can always press the two halves back together firmly and put a rubber band around it. Then ripen it slowly in the fridge, or quickly on the counter. It will keep for a couple of days or more. Otherwise, follow the tips below for eating unripened avocado in some surprisingly tasty ways.
Tasty Ways to Eat Unripened Avocados
Rather than wasting a perfectly good unripe avocado, I recommend eating it in a new and unusual way. You can try avocado puddings and ice cream with your fresh fruit, but the too-hard variety has plenty of tasty opportunities as well.
The key to eating unripe avocado is cooking it. Depending on your kitchen-skill level and dietary needs, there are both simple and complex methods for cooking up your avocados. Delishably recommends rolling unripened avocado slices in bacon strips or prosciutto and baking them to a crisp.
Breaded Avocado Slices
If you’ve ever made your own fried or breaded chicken, then this is an excellent method for you. Moreover, you can even use a premade mix like Shake and Bake if you prefer. However, I like to bread avocados from scratch.
First, prepare a frying pan, griddle, or baking tray per your preference. I usually toss mine on the griddle with a little butter or olive oil spray. However, you can bake at three-fifty until golden brown, or use a standard frying pan if you prefer.
You will need flour, a beaten egg, and some bread crumbs. You can substitute gluten-free flour or nut-meal if you prefer. Moreover, you can get creative with bread crumbs. I’ve used crushed potato and corn chips, smashed instant stuffing mix, and flattened croutons.
First, flour your avocado. This step is critical because it gives your egg something to stick to that’s not slippery. Next, give your slices a quick dip in the egg.
Finally, roll them in your bread crumbs. That’s all there is to it. You are now ready to fry or bake your avocados. I like to make these instead of french fries sometimes and serve them with burgers, or even hot dogs.
Avocado Patty Frying Pan Method
To heat unripened avocado in a frying pan without lemon, you need to first scoop out ll the flesh. Place this in a bowl and mash it. You can use a potato masher or fork. However, if the avocado is incredibly hard, placing smaller pieces in a garlic press and crushing it may be more effective.
Form your mashed avocado into a patty, and season it with spices of your choice. Ground sea salt and cracked pepper are both delightful, but for more flavor, use Mrs. Dash in any flavor you prefer.
In a small frying pan, a sautee pan or egg pan works well, place a tablespoon of olive oil. Heat it over a low-medium burner, but don’t let the oil begin to smoke or burn. Add your patty and allow it to get brown on both sides.
Eating unripe avocados is safe. While many people find the texture and flavor far less pleasant, it’s not going to do you any harm, so don’t worry. Plus, by double-checking the ripeness and using a little patience, you can get those perfectly ripe avocados you crave.
For those who need to use up unripened avocado, there are plenty of useful tips on this list. Like the fried green tomato, an immature avocado can become a delightful snack or side dish for any meal. However, you’ll want t truly ripened fruit for your guacamole.
Avocados have a ton of nutrients and are suitable for helping reduce cholesterol when eaten regularly as a part of a heart-healthy diet. Ripe or not, you can enjoy these bizarre berries anytime, just don’t overdo it since they are also high in calories.