There are benefits to putting avocados in the refrigerator, but there are also definite drawbacks. An understanding of these can help you make an informed decision on when it is appropriate to do so.
First, let’s look at the positive aspects. Refrigeration drastically slows or even halts the ripening process of avocados. This allows for a longer shelf life of the product, and gives some control over the time frame in which the fruit will ripen.
Grocers and farmers take advantage of this by refrigerating the fruit while in transport, and often in the produce section of the supermarket as well. When a grocer wants to extend the amount of time that an avocado will be sellable, he will move them to a refrigerated shelf to slow down their ripening.
You can also use this method at home to somewhat dictate when an avocado will ripen and become ready-to-eat. Sometimes I buy a container of 5 to 7 avocados and I don’t, of course, want to eat all of them on the same day. So I’ll put 4 or 5 in the refrigerator and then take one out each day. This allows me to stagger the time frame that they ripen, and provides me with a delicious avocado to eat every day until the batch is gone.
There are some definite drawbacks to refrigerating avocados, however, to be cognizant of. First, sometimes the avocado never fully ripens after refrigeration. Once the natural ripening process is interrupted, it is not a sure thing that it will restart. Sometimes the fruit will just stay green and rot inside without ever ripening. Just the other day I had two avocados that did this, where only half of each avocado became edible. The other half stayed hard as a rock and I had to throw it away.
Another reason you want to refrain from refrigeration is that it deteriorates the flavor of the fruit. Hass avocados are beloved for their nutty texture and exquisitely smooth flesh. The trained palette can definitely notice that refrigerated avocados do not taste as good as completely fresh ones. The longer the refrigeration, the more loss of taste.
As you can see, when it comes to the avocado, refrigeration has its advantages. And I usually put my superfruit in the icebox if I don’t plan on eating them right away. Now that you know the pros and cons, you can make an educated decision on when to do so yourself.