The Chef Tip To Prevent Your Cut Avocados From Browning

Whether it's served on toast, in a burrito, or used to make a guacamole dip, avocados bring a rich creaminess and a pop of vibrant green color to any dish you please. But once cut, these fruits lose that lovely hue very quickly, turning an unappetizing brown shade. This dreaded occurrence happens when an enzyme in avocados known as polyphenol oxidase reacts with oxygen in the air, which might make you think there's no way to prevent it — but Food Republic has a tip from an expert that can greatly slow the process.

Diana Manalang, Chef and Owner of Little Chef Little Cafe in NYC, says that the key to keeping avocados looking beautiful lies in how you prepare the fruits once cut. "We pre-mash the avocado and blend in some lime juice and salt," the chef told Food Republic. "Then we place a wet paper towel over the top of the puree to prevent the avocado from oxidizing and turning color." 

Manalang's tip helps you prep your avocado toast and other goodies in advance, without the fruit turning to brown mush. Other citrus juices like also lemon work, and pressing a wet paper towel right onto the surface of the mash prevents air from touching it, protecting it from both browning and moisture loss. Dealing with halved or sliced avocados instead? Just squeeze the citrus over the fruit and press a paper towel on top in the exact same way.

Lime adds flavor as well as preventing avocados from browning

How does lime juice slow the seemingly inevitable browning of avocados? Acid has been proven to slow down the reaction between polyphenol oxidase and oxygen, and acidic lemon or lime juice easily does the trick. As Diana Manalang points out, a squeeze of citrus also adds a burst of flavor. The hint of bright and zingy taste balances out the rich avocado.

Limes in particular are the perfect partner for avocados, adding an aromatic, tangy punch that complements the creamy fruit. The sour liquid also serves to suppress any bitter notes that might develop after cut avocados sit in the fridge for a while. It's similar to how the citrus in a margarita balances the harsh tequila (on that note, you can actually add avocado to margaritas for a creamy touch). Manalang's recommended addition of salt ramps up the subtly savory taste of the avocado flesh.

When making guacamole, you can use the juice of one whole lime per one avocado for flavor and anti-browning power. But if you're mashing the fruit for avocado toast, try using half the amount of citrus, so it's less overpowering. To elevate your toast, take a tip from Manalang, who serves the dish at Little Chef Little Cafe with hot pepper flakes and a sweet-spicy mango habanero sauce. And to reduce waste even further, don't throw away avocado pits — brew them for a rich, energizing tea.