5 Signs Your Avocado is Spoiled – Don’t Miss Out!

The memes are endless; Depictions of the slim-to-none chances catching an avocado during its optimal ripeness litter the internet. But beyond the illustrations of avocados with little x’s for eyes, deciphering whether or not one is bad is a little more in depth.

When an avocado has passed on, there will be a change in appearance (most noticeably inside), taste, and texture and, more subtly at least at first, smell.

An avocado doesn’t start the ripening process until it’s picked off the tree, but it certainly happens quickly once it does. And, when ripe, the window of time before it’s spoiled is even shorter – a few days, though it may feel like a few minutes. Don’t give up. There are ways to keep avocados around longer or even salvage parts of one on its way out the door. What a shame it would be to give up on one too quickly!

Signs an Avocado Is Spoiled

Determining whether an avocado is past its prime comes down to four things that uses four of your senses: feel (touch), appearance (sight), smell, and taste.


To check an avocado, hold it in the palm of your hand and squeeze gently. If the avocado is firm like a softball, with no give whatsoever, it means it’s underripe. If it gives just slightly, it’s prime time. If it smushes, even just in places, it’s gone over and shouldn’t be purchased, but if it’s already in your home, don’t give up just yet. Cut it open to see how bad the damage is.

If squeezing the avocado results in indentation and the inside has bits that are salvageable, use it for mashed preparations like in a guacamole, rather than slicing it. If the indentation is deep or fruit downright mushy, it’ll likely need to be tossed.


If you come upon an avocado that looks sunken in or deflated, it’s time to play the taps – no further examination needed. Other, less obvious tells in appearance include a change of color. Some varieties change color more noticeably than others, particularly Hass avocados, which account for 80% of those eaten worldwide. When these avocados are unripe, they have a bumpy, bright green skin and when they mature, the color transitions to dark green or brown. Once dark brown or black in color, it’s likely overripe.

The flesh inside the fruit is the easiest thing to inspect for signs of spoilage, but the caveat is this must wait until you’ve already brought it home. (They tend to frown upon chopping open produce right there in the store.) A smooth, bright green interior is what you’re looking for. Rotten spots are brown or black, but these can be cut away if only an isolated one or two, salvaging the rest, if there’s no other signs of decay.

More widespread rotting can show up as dark streaks in the flesh, looking like long thin strings, threads, or worms, impossible to cut away. But some avocados, especially those from young trees, can have these dark streaks laced inside even before they rot.

Finding these streaks or strings will come down to an individual judgement call on, but if it tastes fine, forge ahead. Be on the lookout for more obvious sings as well; mold, or a whitish-grey color signals the fruit is well past ripe (not mention, unsafe).


I don’t know about you, but I don’t tend to notice much of an aroma from avocados, but what is there is fresh and slightly sweet. Though smell isn’t the first thing I go to to detect spoilage in this particular piece of produce, it will have a cloying, astringent odor if it’s not fit to eat.


The subtle beauty of an avocado lies in the mildly sweet, yet nutty taste. As it spoils, a sour or chemical taste will overpower this feature, revealing it’s gone rancid. A rancid avocado is unlikely to make you sick, but it sure isn’t pleasant.

Avocados Against Time

There are a few things you can do to squeeze out a little extra time with this precious product. I buy underripe avocados and toss them in the fridge as soon as I’m home. Then, a day or two before I’ll be needing one for a recipe (depending on how underripe I had to get), I pull one out and place it on the counter.

If your only options in the store bin are ripe avocados, as long as they’re not already overripe of course, popping them in the fridge will likely hold them over until needed – kind of stopping time (for about 5 days anyway). If you need to speed up the ripening process, banishing them to a brown paper bag on the counter will do the trick.


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