How to Store Half an Avocado the Right Way

Whether you’re topping a Spiced Beef Taco Bowl for one, preparing a pared-back Ponzu Salmon Avocado Toast, or blending a few slices into your breakfast smoothie, perhaps you’ve been left with half an avocado. Now what? There are few things as disappointing as a ripe avocado turning gray, gummy, or desiccated before you can enjoy it. We’ve got your back: Here’s how to store half an avocado so it’s still guacamole-ready for lunch tomorrow.

First things first: Oxygen is the enemy. It’s what’s responsible for all of those brown spots when you leave an avocado out in the open for longer than a few minutes. When you slice an avocado (or an apple, or a potato, or mushrooms, for that matter), you damage the plant cells. Enzymes that are usually trapped inside those cells will now interact with each other—and the oxygen in the air. They change colors as a defense mechanism, according to Harold McGee, author of On Food and Cooking .

To store an avocado effectively, it’s all about minimizing contact with the air. Sure you could purchase an avocado saver, which snugly hugs the cut side of the avocado to avoid exposure. But you don’t need one. Keep it simple, and do as senior test kitchen editor Shilpa Uskokovic does: “I remove the pit, leave the skin on, and then place it cut-side down on a plate,” she says. “Make sure the cut surface is flush against a plate or lid to minimize oxidation.” You can also tightly wrap the avocado half in cling wrap, to the same effect.

Other enemies of oxidation include acid and cold, writes McGee. Those enzymes can’t act as quickly in an acidic environment, and cooler temperatures also slow down their activity. To put this into practice, spritz some lemon or lime over the cut side of the avocado half, and store it in the fridge.

A word of caution: No matter what TikTok tells you, skip storing cut avocado submerged in water. According to the FDA, the skins of avocado contain bacteria that can multiply rapidly and spread to the flesh of the fruit when you keep the whole thing in a moist environment.

No matter what you do, though, you can’t stave off the inevitable. While these methods may help prevent mushiness and browning for a couple days, any longer and you’ll be back into zombie avocado territory, so use it up as soon as possible. Make recipes like this All A’s Spring Salad With Mahi Mahi, or this Melon and Avocado Crudo while your avocados are still in pristine condition.

If you’ve waited too long—it happens—a non-optimal avocado is still perfectly edible. Put it toward a recipe where its looks are cleverly camouflaged. Try mashing into kale for Smoky Chicken and Avocado Kale Salad, blitzed into an Avocado Smoothie, or smooshed on toast.

Holy guacamole

This easy guacamole recipe is best made in a Mexican mortar and pestle called a molcajete, but a bowl and a fork works fine. Just don’t rush to get it on the table. It takes a while for the avocado to absorb all the flavors you add to it. 

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