Food and Nutrition

‘I’m a Food Stylist and This Is the Best Way To Keep Your Avocados From Going Brown’

Emily Laurence

Photo: Stocksy/Mauro Grigollo
If you’re among the millions of Americans still patiently waiting your turn for the COVID-19 vaccine, chances are your trips to the grocery store continue to be as infrequent as possible. That means prioritizing buying foods that will last longer than a few days. It’s easy enough to stock up on pantry items and buy frozen veggies instead of fresh, but avocados present a trickier conundrum. The fickle fruit has a very short window of ripeness, especially once it’s already been cut open. The struggle!

Are avocados worth all the hype? Here’s what a registered dietitian thinks:

While the internet is awash with hacks to keep avocados from browning, not all of them are particularly intuitive (or even effective). So we thought we’d turn to a different kind of pro to help us: a food stylist, whose job is literally to make food look as delicious as possible. (And mushy brown avocado slices are an immediate no-go.)

One trick to extending the life of an avocado is to pair it with an onion. But if you’ve already sliced that baby open, this hack won’t work. For this, Eleanore Park, the food stylist for Well+Good’s Cook With Us series, has another trick tucked up her apron. Out of all the hacks out there, she relies on lemon juice and plastic wrap (a classic) to get the job done. “Generally, I’ll squeeze lemon juice all over the cut side of the avocado before wrapping it in plastic wrap,” she says.

The tried-and-true trick works for a reason. The acidic pH of the lemon juice preserves the color of the food by slowing the oxidation process, which occurs when the insides of fruit like avocado, banana, and apples are exposed to the air. (Why didn’t they teach this in high school chemistry?) The plastic wrap Park puts on top further prevents oxidation by protecting it from air exposure, which she says will cause the fruit to brown quicker.

However, lemon juice requires always having ripe lemons on hand (or relying on the pre-packaged lemon juice sold in the produce section). If you’re looking for a pantry-staple version of lemon juice, Park suggests trying powdered citric acid. It’s essentially powdered, concentrated citrus fruit acid, and it does the work of lemon juice in a pinch.

Whether you use lemon juice or sprinkled citric acid, the end result is the same: avocados that last a day or two longer than they would otherwise. It’s truly a game-changing hack because, let’s be honest, it’s the little joys in life that are keeping us going right now—and that definitely includes avocado toast all week long.

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