Even with 2018 on the horizon, avocados, the unofficial trendiest food of 2017, are still making waves in food news.
Just this week, everyone was buzzing about a massive 5.23 lb. avocado found in Hawaii. And before that, the discovery of low-fat avocados took the Internet by storm, as did the idea of replacing cheese with avocado in a mac and cheese recipe.
But despite all the publicity, people still have difficulty with one defining property of avocados: keeping them from browning.
It’s widely known that avocados are delicate – they quickly change from that signature green to stinky brown shortly after being cut. The switch in colour is the result of oxidation, the chemical reaction that occurs when an avocado is exposed to air…and it’s quite the unappetizing aesthetic. Oh, and it tastes as good as it looks.
Experts advise to avoid eating the oxidized parts, or brown avocado bits. If your avocados are regularly browning, however, fear not – you can still salvage that guacamole or avocado toast, if only the top layer has browned and the underneath is still green. Just skim off the brown bits, and enjoy the green goodness you know so well.
But the best way to avoid eating browning avocados is to prevent oxidation in the first place, and it’s very simple.
The first technique according to Harold McGee in On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, is to add an acid to the avocado, like lime or lemon juice. The acid prevents the enzymes that cause avocados to brown from functioning – not to mention it works seamlessly in mashed avocadoes and guacamole recipes.
Another way to stop oxidation is blocking the avocado’s exposure to oxygen. This can be done with simple plastic wrap, ensuring the flesh of the avocado is tightly surrounded, so no air can penetrate it.
“In the case of mashed avocado, this means pressing the wrap directly into the surface,” notes McGee.
This means wrapping a bowl of mashed avocados, for example, won’t work – any pockets of air between the plastic and avocado will result in browning, thanks to the air’s oxygen contents.
Plastic wrap works particularly well for halved avocados, and even better for ones with the pit still in it. This is because the pit acts as a natural barrier against oxidation. So, if you’re only using avocados by the half, keep the pit inside of the half you’re saving for later.
Interestingly, there are new avocado products whose key selling point is being ‘pitless’. Sure, it may be easier to prepare a quick guacamole, but this seriously limits shelf life time.
There are other hacks besides the two aforementioned that people swear by, but are less common. Storing it with cut onions, or brushing the flesh with olive oil have been cited as anti-oxidation techniques, though results vary for these particular avocado remedies.
Regardless of what you try, just remember that to keep an avocado from browning, you must keep it away from air.
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