By Valerie David

Used often when making salads, dips and sandwiches, avocados are commonly thought of as a vegetable. These heavy, oval or pear-shaped avocados are in fact a fruit, and like fresh berries and bananas, they have a relatively short shelf life. Bought ripe or unripe, there are a few simple rules for storing avocados and keeping them at their best for as long as possible.

Best Way to Store Avocados

Store ripe, unbagged avocados in the fruit and vegetable drawer in your refrigerator. The California Avocado Commission recommends eating them within two to three days; if avocados aren't overripe, they can last up to a week.

Sprinkle cut avocados with lemon juice, lime juice or white vinegar, then store in an airtight container. Exposed fruit doesn't last as long as intact fruit, so use within two days.

Store unripe avocados on the kitchen counter or table, at room temperature and out of direct sunlight. Fruit should ripen within three to five days.

Speed the ripening process by placing avocados in a paper bag. Add an apple or banana for the quickest ripening.

Freeze pureed avocados for extended storage. Wash the fruit, cut it in half and remove the seed. Carve out the fruit with a spoon. Add to a blender, mixing bowl or food processor. Add 1 tbsp. of lemon juice for every two avocados. Puree the fruit and place in an airtight container, leaving 1 inch of space between the avocado and cover. Frozen pureed avocado should last up to five months and can be used later for guacamole, salads and sandwich spreads.