Avocado is one of those ingredients that can take an average dish to a new, delicious level all on its own. From crisp salads to sizzling fajitas to your morning toast, almost anything can be enhanced by the creamy, green fruit (yep, it’s a fruit!).
But once you start slicing and dicing that avocado, you’ve got a relatively short window to incorporate it into your recipe before it begins to turn brown. Sure, you might not get sick from eating that slightly speckled piece, but when it comes to presenting a pretty plate, most people tend to frown on brown.
Whether adding it to a sandwich or topping a bowl of chili, you don’t always use a whole avocado in one dish. If you’re hanging on to the other half, you can store it in the fridge for a later use—but the way you store it is essential for ensuring your avocado looks fresh, green and ready to add some cool, creamy goodness to your favorite recipe.
Why avocados brown
Before getting into the solutions for keeping a sliced avocado green, it’s important to understand why it turns brown in the first place. Avocados contain an enzyme called polyphenol oxidase, which turns the flesh brown when exposed to air—or more specifically, when it’s exposed to oxygen. So in order to maintain that gorgeous green color, the flesh of an avocado needs to be protected from oxygen exposure. (Ever wonder why it usually stays green just underneath the pit? The pit doesn’t hold any magical powers—it just acts as a barrier against oxygen until it’s removed.)
The following solutions aren’t everlasting—eventually the exposed flesh will brown after a period of time, but these methods will help lengthen the time you can store your sliced avocado without worrying about excessive browning.
Trick No. 1: Seal with plastic wrap
If you’ve halved an avocado, carefully apply plastic wrap smoothly against the flesh. You can leave the pit in or take it out, but if you do remove it, make sure to lightly press the plastic wrap along the well where the pit was to ensure a tight seal.
Trick No. 2: Give it a citrus twist
Citrus fruits naturally contain strong antioxidants, which work against oxygen to slow down spoiling or browning in certain foods. Simply brush a little lemon or lime juice across the flesh of a sliced avocado, seal it in an airtight container, and it should delay the browning process for about a day.
Trick No. 3: Brush with oil
Oil will also help oxygen from reaching the flesh of an avocado. Brush the exposed area with olive or vegetable oil to create a barrier, then seal in an airtight container—it should keep from browning for about a day or so.
Trick No. 4: Buddy up with onion
Onions aren’t just a tasty addition to guacamole—they’re naturally an avocado’s BFF: Brown-Fighting Friend, that is. Onions contain sulfur compounds that, when released, slow the oxidation that causes browning. Roughly chop up a red onion, place it in an airtight container, and lay your avocado half on top. Bonus: you’re already partway through the prep for some incredible homemade guacamole!
So go ahead and stock up on some avocados, get slicing, then try any of the methods above (or test them all to see which works best for you!). Read up on these surprising fun facts about the creamy, green power food, then put your star ingredient to use with some irresistible avocado recipes.