Forgotten Food Files: How to Make Use of Browning Avocados
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Have you ever been meandering around the kitchen – putting away dishes, heating up leftovers, grazing among the snack cabinet – when your eyes fall upon a somber, ghastly sight on your counter? That grouping of avocados you bought last week was somehow forgotten and now looks worse for the wear. They practically cry out, “We could have been guac! We had so much potential! WHY!?!”
Avocados are sensitive fruits (yes, they’re fruits) and are near “perfect” for only two to three days. A firm, unripe avocado can last for weeks in the fridge, but once on the counter, its days are numbered.
If you cut open an avocado and find a few brown spots, don’t immediately toss it. Those imperfections might be bruises from being jostled around in your grocery cart and are nothing to worry about. You might also see stringy brown fibers, but those are also harmless and can be consumed. Browning is often just the result of oxidation, a chemical reaction that happens when oxygen combines with another substance and a reaction occurs. Much like an apple may brown if exposed for too long.
A representative of the California Avocado Commission research board says, “To my knowledge—and I did not find any research to the contrary—there is no change in the nutritional value of avocados when they start to brown.”
However, if an avocado smells bad, has mold growth, or black spots, it’s past the point of eating.
For less than perfect avocados worth rescuing, here’s a list of ways to use them:
Baking. Browning avocados are softer and creamier than ripe ones, so they’re perfect for baking into super moist desserts. They can even be substituted for common baking staples like butter, shortening, or eggs.
Salad dressing. Overripe avocados have the ideal texture to puree into creamy dressings. A little bit goes a long way and won’t overpower any other flavors with an avocado aftertaste.
Pesto. Much like salad dressing, no one will see brown spots in an avocado if you mix it into pesto for pasta. Blend overripe avocado, basil, pine nuts, olive oil, garlic, and lime juice for a balanced, rich pesto sauce.
Oatmeal. Before you balk at this, think of oats as a blank canvas for whatever savory ingredients you’re in the mood for. Softened, overripe avocado mixed into oatmeal gives it a thicker texture and creamier flavor. Top with salt, pepper, green onion, and a fried egg and you have a power breakfast filled with protein, fiber, and healthy fats.
One of our favorite ways of using browning avocados is whipping them up into a sweet, rich, chocolate pudding. It takes just 10 minutes and includes ingredients likely already in your pantry.
Avocado and Banana Chocolate Pudding
- 1½ bananas
- 1 overripe avocado, pitted and peeled
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
- ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
1. To a food processor, add banana, avocado, and cocoa powder. Process until just a few chunks remain, about 1 minute.
2. With processor running, pour maple syrup through feed tube (the small opening at the top) and process until completely smooth, scraping down bowl as needed, about 1 minute.
3. Add vanilla and cinnamon and process until combined, about 10 seconds.
4. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until completely chilled, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Recipe written by Carla Lyons, published by Clean Eating Magazine