Why avocados turn brown

Anyone who has ever bought an avocado has experienced the dreaded browning after cutting it open.

A quick search of the Internet yields that the cause of this is oxidation.  When the flesh of an avocado is exposed to air, it starts turning brown because of the presence of oxygen.  Similar things tend to happen in apples also.

Most remedies for this call for applying some lemon juice on the exposed flesh and covering it with plastic wrap to limit the contact of oxygen.


For a couple years now, I have been buying my avocados at my local Farmer’s Market in Long Beach from Tony.  And during this time, I have learned much about avocados which have given insight to why avocados turn brown.

Before answering this question, first a detour.  Most markets in North America sell an avocado called the Haas Avocadohaas


However, what if I told you, there are many other different types of avocados?

Reed Avocado

The Reed Avocado can be considered the king of the avocados.  Ripening this avocado can take anywhere from 7-10 days and has a much higher oil content than the Haas.  It has so much oil content, that when you cut the avocado in half, it doesn’t turn brown days later.  It is kind of a crazy thing.

Pinkerton Avocado
The Pinkerton Avocado is similar to the size of a Haas Avocado, but has less oil than a Reed Avocado.

Lamb Haas Avocado
Lamb Haas avocados are similar to Haas, but have a thinner skin.  It has more oil than a Haas, but less than a Pinkerton.

Mexicola Avocados


Mexicola Avocados are a bit bizarre due to the ginormous seed and sometimes the actually edible portion can be a bit small.  The skin is super soft and I prefer to eat these straight up rather than in a guacamole.

Now I’ll end with some tips from Farmer Tony.

  • The amount of oil in an avocado can determine how fast it will oxidize.
  • Supermarket varieties of avocados have low oil content, thus will brown quickly.
  • Reeds, Pinkertons, and Lamb Haas avocados have high oil content, thus will brown over a period of a couple of days.
  • Refrigerating avocados is a bad idea because it loses some of its flavor due to the cold.

If you are outside of California, it may be tough to get access to some of these avocados.  But I encourage you to explore your local farmer’s market or ask around at your specialty market if you can find some of these different varieties.



Why you should pay attention to California Farmer’s Markets

A new trend in market shopping is to buy things which are in season.  This is advantageous because things taste better and are often cheaper.  The problem in the US is it is often confusing on how to determine this.

For example, you may see eggplants in the market year round.  But the reason you see it year round is that when it is out of season in the US, it comes from South America because their seasons are flipped.

To know what is truly in season in the US, you need to pay attention to what is going on in the California farmer’s markets.  The reasoning is that since 80% of the produce comes from California, the farmer’s markets are the first indicators of what is coming into season.

This week (May 3rd), stone fruits just came into season.  Examples of stone fruits are apricots, nectarines, peaches, and cherries.  Unfortunately they are a little pricey at the market right now since it just started.  But in the supermarket, pay attention to these fruits as they should be getting better in the next couple weeks.

Obviously this may be a problem if you don’t live in California or don’t shop at farmer’s markets.  My solution to you is to follow this blog or follow the instagram channel fp produce hunter who takes pictures at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market.

Photo May 01, 1 11 11 PM

New stone fruits in season at the Huntington Beach Farmer’s Market this week.