Everyone loves good cooking tips. But avocados that stay fresh for a month, is that possible? If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. A viral trend on TikTok and Facebook indeed shows users storing whole or cut avocados in water to keep them fresh longer.
In one video, a TikTok user stores half an avocado in a container filled with water overnight, and takes it out the next day to find it’s still ripe and green. Another user, stored an uncut avocado in a jar of water in the fridge, revealing perfectly smooth green fruit inside after two weeks of soaking. Her video quickly went viral, racking up over six million views before she took it down.
At first glance, the idea seems plausible. Avocados begin to brown when exposed to oxygen, in a process called oxidation. The same thing happens with apples and potatoes. There’s nothing wrong with browning as far as a health risk goes, it just doesn’t look good. By storing avocados in water, users suggest you slow down the oxidation process and keep the fruit ripe and green longer. But in reality, this practice does not hold water. It could have serious health effects.
What are the health risks of storing cut avocados in water?
While water can help preserve the freshness and flavor of an avocado, it can also put you at risk for foodborne illness. The main concern is the possibility that any residual human pathogens (such as Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella) that may reside on the surface of the avocado could potentially multiply during storage when submerged in water.
Listeria monocytogenes can cause fever, muscle aches, nausea and diarrhea. Salmonella can cause fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Both can cause serious illness and death in people with weakened immune systems, while Listeria monocytogenes can be especially dangerous for pregnant women, newborns and the elderly. Bacteria like listeria and salmonella are living creatures. They need the right temperature, food and most importantly water to thrive. When you slice an avocado, split it in half, then immerse it in water, you provide the perfect environment create a pathogenic soup.
Even if you choose not to cut your avocados before submerging them, you may still be in danger. Whole, washed avocados may still contain traces of bacteria that seep into the edible part of the fruit over time.
How to store fresh avocados safely?
First, rinse the avocados under running water and scrub them with a firm scrub brush to remove any dirt or bacteria. Pat them dry with a clean towel and allow them to air dry, then store at room temperature until ripe.
Once you’ve opened your avocado, add a squeeze of lemon or lime juice to the exposed surface if you’re not planning on using the whole fruit right away. This will keep them fresh longer, as the citric acid in these fruits can slow down the oxidation process. Then wrap the fruit in plastic wrap until you’re ready to finish it.
Storing avocado slices in the freezer is another convenient way to prevent bacterial growth. Freezing food will deactivate any bacteria present in the food. But remember that these bacteria can continue to multiply as usual once the food is thawed.
Quarter the avocados, remove the skin and throw them in a bag. Add some lemon juice and put it in the freezer. Remember that ice crystals can change the texture of your avocados slightly, so this tip is best for avocados you plan to use in smoothies, mousses, or other blender recipes.
And if you want your bowl of guacamole to stay fresh, don’t skimp on the citrus juice. When you’re ready to store it, drizzle it with lemon juice, then lay plastic wrap directly over the guacamole, instead of stretching it over the top of the bowl.
The lawyers’ problem is real. They’re not exactly cheap, and if you wait too long to use them, they might already be brown and soft by the time you’re ready to feast on an avocado toast. Resist the temptation to store them in water, however, to avoid foodborne pathogens like listeria and salmonella. Instead, store whole avocados on the counter or in the refrigerator. If you’re not using all the fruit at once, add a little lemon or lime juice. Not only is this touch of spiciness delicious, but it helps preserve the freshness of the fruit until tomorrow.
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