This Is How Restaurants Keep Avocados Fresh, According To A Chef

We've all had to face the conundrum of storing unexpected avocado leftovers from appetizer plates, garnishes, or sandwich fixin's. The dreaded oxidation begins before you think of a quick fix, one that typically fails anyway. Surely there's an easy answer to saving the creamy deliciousness and nutrient-packed goodness of avocados, whether cut or uncut. There is, as we discovered in the wealth of information provided by an expert on keeping foods fresh and tasty: Diana Manalang, chef and owner of Little Chef Little Cafe in NYC. 

We first turned to the most obvious avocado topic for home chefs: how to keep cut avocados from turning an unappetizing, murky brown. Manalang's answer was somewhat unexpected, but makes perfect sense. "The best trick to prevent avocados from turning brown," she said, "is to use them!" Rather than trying to prevent oxidation, simply turn them into purées and dressings. Manalang reveals how to make avocado purée the restaurant way. "For the purée, we blend avocados with lime, herbs, and salt — just like you would for guacamole but just smooth it out." 

The purée then serves as a base for dreamy avocado dressing, thinned out by olive oil and a few dashes of extra lime juice, to taste. That citrus acidity provided by the lime juice protects the avocado purée from the unappealing color change. For extra measure, Manalang suggests protecting the purée or dressing from air exposure and oxidation by covering the container with a wet paper towel. The same goes for cut whole avocados; just keep the pits inside and cover them accordingly.

How to store whole uncut avocados

It's so tempting to overbuy avocados, especially during peak harvest months. For California avocados, which comprise about 90% of U.S. production, you'll get that ultimate fresh, seasonal flavor from spring through early autumn. Picked at their peak from roughly 3,000 state growers, they have the ultimate potential for "tree to table" freshness due to being grown locally. So, you may as well pile up and dig in. And restaurant tricks for keeping whole avocados fresh apply equally in home kitchens. 

Diana Manalang explains that, in her New York City restaurant, they keep avocados refrigerated for extended preservation, though nuances arise depending on their level of ripeness. To determine if an avocado is ripe, look at its skin. Unripe avocados, which typically have bright green skins, get a ripening shortcut from the kitchen staff at Little Chef Little Cafe. Placing fresh avocados in brown paper bags, along with some apples, gets them ready for eating within a couple of days. 

They'd likely ripen on their own at room temperature away from direct sunlight, but it's a common kitchen trick to use other fruits to hasten the avocado ripening process with bag-mates such as bananas, apples, kiwis, or other ethylene-gas emitters. Some home chefs alternatively advocate for ripening avocados and other fruits in a bag of rice. When blessed with a wealth of ripe avocados, utilize the frozen chambers of your fridge. "If they arrive at the restaurant already ripe," explains Manalang, "then we turn it all into purée and dressing and freeze it until we need to use it. This way, there's no waste on our end."