Avocados are a healthy, nutritious treat that can quickly turn sour if you spot mold on the fruit. If the mold is on the outer skin and not the green flesh you crave, you may wonder, is the fruit still safe to eat?
Moldy avocados are unsafe to eat and indicate the fruit has gone bad. You should dispose of the affected avocado immediately. To prevent future instances of mold, add lemon juice to cut avocados to preserve them or freeze avocados.
In today’s article, we’ll answer all your most burning questions about moldy avocados so you can avoid them and prevent a potential bout of illness. Keep reading!
Are avocados with mold on the outside safe to eat?
If you spot mold growing on the outside of an avocado, it means the fruit is no longer good to use as mold growth indicates that spoilage has begun to occur. Even if the mold growth is not extensive, there is a high probability that bacteria have also begun to spread throughout the avocado, breaking it down and making it not only potentially dangerous, but also highly unpleasant to eat.
When fungi grow on organic materials, they release enzymes that break down their tissues so that the nutrients can be absorbed. This is one of the reasons that the texture of the fruit can become slimy and “mushy”, it would also become highly bitter or sour in terms of taste, so there really is no good way to eat an avocado that shows any sign of mold growth, and it should be discarded.
What Should You Do If You Accidentally Eat a Moldy Avocado?
The good news is that if you were to notice that the avocado you have used tastes odd and has mold growing on it, you would likely only suffer from minor issues, if any at all, as long as only a small amount was eaten.
If you have allergies to molds of any kind, you must contact a health professional to be assessed, just in case. However, if you have a well-functioning immune system and no allergies, you only need to monitor yourself over the next few hours, if no symptoms appear, monitor for a further day or so and seek medical attention if you start to suffer from any unusual or unpleasant symptoms you feel you could be as a result of eating the moldy avocado.
Another point to add is that if you realize you’ve eaten mold from the avocado, you should not attempt to induce vomiting, as this can cause further damage and would not always remove all traces of mycotoxins from your system.
Can’t you just cut off the moldy bits and eat the rest?
Unfortunately, simply cutting away the affected parts of the avocado and consuming the rest is not a good option either. This is because the avocado has already begun to spoil as previously discussed, but also because mold and fungi can produce a harmful compound called mycotoxins.
When mold grows, it creates thread-like roots called hyphae, these burrow down deep into whatever organic material the fungi is growing on to allow it to absorb the nutrients, anchor itself, produce spores, and spread further, increasing the size of the colony.
These roots can pass mycotoxins all through the fruit, so what may appear at first glance to be healthy and perfectly good fruit can already be full of mycotoxins that certainly should not be consumed.
If you spot mold growing on any part of the avocado, it is not safe to eat and should be discarded.
What Kind of Mold Grows on Avocados?
You’re interested in learning more about the mold that grows on avocados. What kind of mold is it exactly?
Mold is created by fungus, and the fungi strain that affects avocados is Rhizopus sps, which can also cause bread mold and black mold.
Known mostly as a wound fungus that can penetrate fruits through open wounds, Rhizopus can spread through the skin of avocados once they ripen, even if the skin wasn’t broken.
This fungal genus contributes to the spoilage of many fruits and vegetables, from avocadoes to sweet potatoes, pears, peaches, and berries.
The mold growth caused by the Rhizopus genus has many mycelium or long, whisker-like hairs that can reach lengths of an inch at points. The “hairs” feel coarse to the touch. They later fall limp and turn black.
Other commonly seen strains include:
Are The Molds Dangerous?
Yes, Rhizopus and many of the other strains found growing on avocados can produce the aforementioned mycotoxins. When ingested, these toxins can cause unpleasant and in some cases dangerous symptoms in those sensitive to them.
Those with mold allergies or suppressed immune systems would see the worst of the symptoms, which could include:
- Breathing difficulties
- Gastrointestinal distress
- Fungal infections
The list above is certainly not exhaustive, and the severity of symptoms would depend on the amount of mycotoxin exposure and the type.
It’s important to note that in many cases, people without allergies can still suffer from similar symptoms, such as breathing and gastrointestinal distress. This is also a result of the high probability of bacterial growth being present within the avocado.
Why Do Avocados Go Moldy So Fast?
Many foods can develop a fuzzy, ripe layer of mold, and fruits are especially frequent candidates for mold. The reason is that fruits have high water content. Cheese, bread, and vegetables go moldy for the same reason.
So that brings us to avocados, which are technically a fruit, although they’re often lumped in with vegetables.
Avocados can absolutely go moldy. Mold strains are caused by fungi that prefer moist, humid environments. The water content of avocados is about 72 percent according to a 2013 publication of Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition.
What Does Mold on Avocados Look Like?
Mold is a sign that your avocado has overripened to the point of going bad. The mold will appear on the fruit’s exterior and is usually either gray or white.
Compared to the dark outer skin of an avocado, visually discerning the mold shouldn’t be too challenging.
That said if you need some other signs besides mold that your avocado(s) is bad, here they are.
The Avocados Smell and Taste Bad
When avocadoes are at the peak of ripeness, they have a moderately sweet smell. When that sweetness transforms into rancidity or muskiness, that’s a clear sign that something is wrong with the fruit.
If the avocado has turned moldy, you will also be able to smell that. Mold has a scent akin to dirty gym socks. It’s earthy and musty.
Hopefully, the off smell of the avocado is enough of an indicator not to eat it. Should you proceed with biting into a rotten avocado, it will taste rancid and sour. Your mouth may fill with an overwhelming chemical taste.
The Flesh Is Dark
You also have a visual indicator that the avocado has gone bad as soon as you slice into it. The normally green, healthy skin will be very dark brown or even black.
No longer will there be a creamy texture to enjoy, as the avocado will have gone stringy.
Their Texture Is Very Soft
If you buy enough produce, you know the difference between soft and ripe fruit and fruit that’s so mushy that you can easily push your fingers into it if you apply too much pressure.
When your avocados feel that soft, you shouldn’t keep them in your kitchen pantry any longer.
They Have A Dented Exterior
Avocados naturally have a pitted texture across the exterior skin. Still, when the pits become deep dents, especially if the entire fruit feels soft, those are clear signs that it’s time to bid your avocados adieu.
How to Prevent Mold from Growing on Avocados
While the best thing to do when you see mold on avocadoes (and other produce) is to throw them away, this can be a terrible waste of money considering that avocados are a costly fruit. To stretch your dollars further in the future, here are some methods for preventing mold growth on avocados.
Use Lemon Juice and Plastic Wrap
Avocados contain polyphenols or enzymes that oxidize when exposed to the air. The color of the avocado will start as that pale trademark green and gradually darken. Not only do cut avocados become less visually appealing as a snack choice thanks to these polyphenols, but you’ll recall that Rhizopus can easily enter through wounds in a fruit or vegetable.
If you must cut avocados, wait until you’re ready to serve, and ideally eat them before cutting. Otherwise, you can squirt lemon juice on the fruit and then store it for up to three days before the avocados begin spoiling. Make sure to tightly cover the cut avocados in plastic wrap.
Refrigerate or Freeze
If you plan on eating avocados in the short term, then refrigerating them is a viable option. You can keep cut avocados in the fridge for at least two days and no longer than four days. The cold temperatures of the fridge retards ripening, helping the fruit last longer. Freezing your avocados, as you’d imagine, will increase their lifespan even more.
Rather than freeze whole avocados, cut them open, remove the pit, and wrap the avocado halves in baking paper. Place the baking paper-covered avocados in the freezer for two hours. After that time elapses, remove the fruits, store them in a freezer-safe container, and refreeze. The avocados will be good to use for up to six months in the freezer, even if they’re pre-cut.
Eat Before Overripe
Since it is overripening that increases the risk of mold on avocado skin, don’t let your avocados get too ripe.
An unripe avocado feels firm, and the outer flesh is dark but bright green. It will be another four or five days from today for the avocados to ripen if you maintain a room-temperature environment of between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
When avocados break, they’ve begun to ripen but aren’t quite there yet. By now, the outer skin has darkened to a blacker color. The fruit feels firm but needs another day or two before it’s ripe.
A ripe avocado that’s ready for consumption today has a darker outer skin color that’s almost black. The fruit also has a soft feel but isn’t mushy.
How Do You Get Mold Off an Avocado?
Mold grows on the outer skin of an avocado, so peeling off the skin will rid you of your mold problem.
However, you’ll recall that mold is a symptom of an overarching issue. That is, the avocado has gone bad. Even if the mold is gone from the surface of the fruit, the rancidity of the avocado is serious enough that you can’t safely eat it in this condition.
Is the Black on an Avocado Mold?
Black on an avocado can be rather commonplace, but depending on where you see it, you’re right to have some concerns. Let’s elaborate.
You’ll only see stems on avocados if you grow them yourself or purchase them directly after harvest.
Avocado stems are supposed to be light to darker green, with a bright hue indicating the fruit is ripe. When you see black on an avocado stem, it’s sooty mold.
The superficial fungus that has invaded the fruit usually occurs after insects reach the avocado tree.
Black Outer Skin
The color of an avocado’s outer skin will mature as the fruit ripens. As you’ll recall, the color starts as a bright, dark green and becomes progressively darker. An avocado’s outer skin is darkest when the fruit is ripe and overripe.
None of this black coloration is mold, though. Mold on an avocado’s outer skin is white or gray, not black.
Black Inner Skin
What if the inner skin of the avocado is black instead of green? This isn’t mold but rather spoilage. Although the dark color isn’t attributed to mold, you still wouldn’t want to eat this avocado, as its taste and texture would be very unpleasant!
Avocados are quite prone to molding, especially on the outer skin. An overripened avocado is the likeliest to grow mold, but there will be plenty of other signs beyond the mold that the fruit is not good to eat.
Since you can get sick by consuming moldy avocados, don’t keep yours past the peak of ripeness!
Over to you
I hope this article has helped you out a little bit by explaining why avocados with mold growing on them should be discarded, but now I’d like to turn things over to you. Have you ever experienced mold growing on your avocados? Did you accidentally eat one? Do you have any tips that you use to keep yours fresh for longer? If so, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Just leave a comment and I’ll get back to you ASAP.