Avocados are popular and healthy fruits, and a lot of people enjoy eating them, but many of them end up getting brown spots inside – and this can be quite off-putting. It might also make you doubt whether the avocado is still safe for you to eat.
In general, an avocado that has brown spots in it is safe to eat, but it may not have such a good flavor. The brown is produced by oxidization, which occurs when cells within the fruit are damaged. The brown spots won’t hurt you if you eat them.
If you’re eating avocados, it’s important to understand why they go brown, why brown avocados are generally safe to eat, and how to tell if an avocado is no longer safe to eat. We’re going to explore each of these things in this article.
Why Do Avocados Go Brown Inside?
Avocados go brown inside for a number of different reasons, but it will almost always be the result of damage from some source or another. Brown spots might be caused by:
- Being bumped or knocked during transport
- Being kept too cold
- Being exposed to too much oxygen
- Being overripe
Let’s look at each of these in more detail.
Bumped During Transport
Although packers and handlers try to minimize bumping and bruising when they are transporting fruits, it is inevitable that some damage will occur to some avocados. Avocados that are knocked during transportation will almost always develop brown spots inside them.
This happens because the cell walls have been broken, and different chemicals escaping from those walls interact with each other. This results in browning and discoloration. You may be able to see this on the skin of the fruit too, but because avocados are dark-skinned, it might not be visible.
If your avocado has little brown lines running throughout the flesh, this is usually not due to bruising, but instead means that the fruit has been stored at temperatures that are too low for it.
Avocados have vascular tissues inside them that are used to transport nutrients and sugars around the fruits. These are usually invisible, but when they get too cold, the tissues will start to die. This causes browning in little lines or dots throughout the fruit. These can look like they have been caused by insects, but they are usually the result of improper chilling. They won’t hurt you.
Too Much Oxygen
Sometimes, avocados go brown because they are exposed to too much oxygen during storage. This results in oxidization, which leads to browning. If you have ever cut an apple open and observed the way that the fruit goes brown on the edges that are exposed to the air, this is the same process.
Oxidization won’t usually hurt the avocado’s flavor, but it may make it mushy and unpleasant.
If you wish to prevent oxidization on an open avocado, you can squeeze it with lemon as this process will be delayed and you’ll be able to even enjoy the avocado later in the day.
Sometimes, browning is a result of the fruit being overripe. This still involves oxidization. As the tissues start to break down and decay, they oxidize and turn brown – but in this case, it’s because of the fruit’s age, rather than being stored in an unsuitable environment.
Overripe avocados may be safe to eat, but they can be unpleasantly mushy.
How Do You Know If A Brown Avocado Is Still Safe To Eat?
Most avocados with brown spots are safe to eat, and you don’t need to worry about a few blemishes. If you don’t like the brown parts, you can just cut them off with a sharp knife or scoop them out with a spoon.
The smaller the brown parts are, the more likely the avocado will be safe to eat. However, if the brown parts are large, you should cut them off because they will not taste good or have a pleasant texture.
Different people have different preferences when it comes to avocado ripeness, and some people prefer the fruit when it is starting to go a little brown. It should be perfectly safe to eat in most cases.
How Do You Tell If A Brown Avocado Is Not Safe To Eat?
Sometimes, avocados have gone past the point where you should eat them, and there are a few telltale signs to look out for. If you cut an avocado open and find that it has gone brown inside, the first thing you should do is check how extensive the browning is.
A few specks of brown, or one larger area which has been bruised should not particularly concern you. You can remove the large brown areas, and the smaller ones are fine to eat. However, if the browning is extensive, you should not eat the avocado.
The next sign to look out for is the smell of the avocado. If it has taken on a sour or unpleasant scent, there is likely to be bacteria growing in the flesh, and this is not safe for you to consume.
What If The Avocado Has Gone Slimy?
You should also check the texture of the avocado. Avocados should be firm and slightly moist, but not slimy. If the avocado’s texture has changed, this is a sure indication that bacteria has begun to break down the flesh and it needs to be disposed of, not eaten.
Similarly, if the avocado has gone very mushy and has lost its firmness, it needs to be disposed of. If you find that one area is bruised and has turned mushy, but the rest of the flesh still feels fine, it should be okay to cut off the bad area and only eat the good one. However, you should be cautious in case any bacteria has spread to the good flesh.
Err on the side of caution, and get rid of avocados you aren’t sure about consuming.
On the whole, avocados with small brown spots or lines inside them are perfectly safe to eat. You may find that they don’t taste as good and that the texture is less enjoyable, but they shouldn’t hurt you. However, if the browning is widespread or the avocado’s texture has changed, you need to throw the fruit away.