Can You Eat Brown Avocado?

Find out if green flesh is the only way to go or if a little discoloration can be ignored.

Do you have a tough time catching the exact moment at which an avocado is perfectly ripe? The struggle is real, as this finicky fruit seems to have an especially short window of readiness. If you cut open an avocado too soon, it can be hard and flavorless; too late and you could end up with unappealing dark spots and a mushy texture. But can you eat brown avocado? Or should you toss it in the trash and vow to be better about checking for ripeness next time?

Why Do Avocados Turn Brown?

There are three main reasons why an avocado turns brown. The first is that it’s been bruised by people squeezing it or it had a rough ride during transit, and now those spots are brown from the trauma. The second is that the avocado has gone bad. The overripe fruit develops brown or black spots throughout its flesh when it’s spoiled. This is usually accompanied by black skin, dark and stringy flesh and a rancid odor and/or flavor. The third reason an avocado may have brown spots is that it was cut open, and its exposed enzymes have reacted with oxygen—this oxidation turns the flesh of the avocado brown.

Can You Eat Brown Avocado?

You can safely eat an avocado or guacamole that has turned brown due to oxidation, just as you could eat an apple that has undergone the same chemical reaction. However, it certainly doesn’t look as appetizing when presented on a plate, and the taste may be slightly altered (read: a tad bitter).

If, as you cut into an avocado, you discover the inside flesh has brown spots, cut these areas off, and eat around them. Finally, if the browning begins at the stem and is spread throughout, this is a sign that the avocado is moldy, and it should be discarded.

How to Help Prevent an Avocado from Browning

There’s no need to force yourself to eat a full avocado just to avoid a little unsightly oxidation on your leftovers—there are a few simple tricks to keep avocados from turning brown. The easiest options? Squeeze lime or lemon juice on the cut side of the avocado, as the acid helps lower the pH level to ward off browning. Then, wrap it in an airtight container to help minimize oxygen exposure and store it in the fridge.

The rules are a bit different when figuring out how to keep guacamole from turning brown, so be sure to brush up on those tricks, too—including checking out this viral Guac Lock storage container.

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Jill Schildhouse
As an editor at large for Taste of Home, Jill Schildhouse is an expert in health and wellness, beauty, consumer products and product reviews, travel, and personal finance. She has spent the last 20 years as an award-winning lifestyle writer and editor for a variety of national print and digital publications.