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!
Do Avocados Go Moldy? Why Does It Happen 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 growing 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 moldy avocado!
What Should You Do If You Eat a Moldy Avocado?
Did you try to power through and eat an overripen, spoiled avocado anyway? This was a mistake, as the bad fruit can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
Most of these symptoms should be short-lived but monitor your health regardless. If you’re still experiencing diarrhea and vomiting hours after eating a bad avocado, get in touch with your doctor and follow their advice.
Make sure you’re prioritizing your hydration levels as well. Diarrhea and vomiting can both sap you of electrolytes. Rather than drink only water, consider Pedialyte, a sugar-free sports drink, or another electrolytic beverage.
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!
Sources: https://ostrali.com/mold-on-outside-of-avocado/, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/when-is-an-avocado-bad, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3664913/, http://www.avocadosource.com/CAS_Yearbooks/CAS_11_1925-26/CAS_1925-26_PG_96-99.pdf, https://loveonetoday.com/how-to/pick-buy-fresh-avocados/, https://www.californiaavocadogrowers.com/articles/have-you-seen-black-spots-avocado-stems, https://www.justpuregardening.com/what-happens-if-you-eat-a-rotten-avocado/