I learned the hard way that you can't actually freeze avocados

Have you ever wondered, "Can you freeze avocados?" Please read this cautionary tale

Published May 15, 2021 1:30PM (EDT)

 (Ty Mecham / Food52)
(Ty Mecham / Food52)

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An excess of avocados can be a very good thing — after all, who doesn't want a bigger batch of guacamole or creamy green slices on their sandwich or burger? But when you have more of these creamy green gems than you can reasonably consume before they inevitably over-ripen and turn brown, you may find yourself asking a question so many have asked before: Can you freeze avocado? And not only can you, but should you?

That's the question my Food52 colleagues asked when they saw me mummifying avocado halves in plastic wrap to prepare them for life eternal in the freezer.

"Because I can!" I shot back.

Can you freeze avocado?

The short answer is no, you can't freeze avocado. The notion that you might freeze a perfectly ripe avocado, preserving it in a state of suspended animation until the day you're ready to bring it back to life and smash it onto toast, is nothing more than a fantastical daydream. To put it less dramatically, "the concept of them waiting in the freezer for me completely ripe is appealing," wrote caninechef on the Food52 Hotline.

Perfectly ripe avocados ready to be frozen in time.
Perfectly ripe avocados ready to be frozen in time. 

Many readers responded with enthusiasm and encouragement, attesting that they do it all the time, and with great success! It was described as a small miracle. And The Huffington Post corroborates. Their 2012 article on the tip was called  "Freezing Avocados: You Should Definitely Do This." I'm afraid that after my (very brief) testing, I have a rebuttal: "Freezing Avocados: I Couldn't Recommend, in Good Conscience, That Anyone Do This."

Here's how I did it: I wrapped avocado halves tightly with plastic wrap and tucked them into a sealed plastic bag. I mashed a few others and scooped the chunky pulp into another bag. I froze everything overnight, then thawed it slowly in the refrigerator.

This was the result:

No one said thawed frozen avocado halves were going to be pretty (and they're not).

No one said thawed frozen avocado halves were going to be pretty (and they're not). 

I'm so sorry.

I'm so sorry.

I admit that I neglected to counter the discoloration from oxidation with lemon or lime juice (though to be fair, in past avocado experiments, I haven't found citrus juice to be much more effective than doing nothing, anyway). But it was the thawed avocados' texture, not their unappetizing superficial hue that was the real issue: Simultaneously mushy, slimy, and spongy. I would not eat them scooped or mashed. Blended might be fine, but they certainly didn't taste fresh.

Some swear by vacuum-sealing before sealing to ensure the avocados' flesh is protected, but after seeing what happens to the interiors of frozen avocados (not just their exteriors), I'm not confident that's the solution. Due to avocados' high water content, freezing them causes ice crystals to form, and when those crystals melt, that signature creamy texture all but disappears — never to return.

Let's get a closer look, shall we? 

I'm not alone in my failure. Yes, you'll find reports of triumphant freezing, but very few pictures of the fruit post-thaw. A coincidence? I think not. But Serious Eats called Trader Joe's frozen avocado halves a fail, citing a writer who deemed the guacamole he made with them "a pasty, gritty, flavorless, and textureless blob of shame."

So yes, you can technically "save" an avocado in the freezer for later, but I'd argue that you're condemning it to certain doom. If you've had success freezing avocados, tell me: Where did I go wrong? Had I given the avocado sufficient lemon juice, might the results have been different? How could this have solved the texture dilemma? Have you used a vacuum-sealer to great effect?

* * *

9 Recipes to use up "too many" avocados

1. Avocado Tartines with Banana and Lime from Apollonia Poilâne

Trust us, this avocado toast isn't like the others you've experienced before. Hear us out: it's got bananas, honey, lime, red pepper flakes, and zero salt — plus, it's 100 percent Genius.

2. Carrot Avocado Salad

This salad might seem simple at first, but its tangy-sweet dressing and combination of textures make it a delicious dish to pair alongside simple proteins like grilled chicken and fish.

3. Fried Avocado Tacos with Sesame and Lime

Take your tacos to the next level with fried avocado — a.k.a., the creamy-on-the-inside, crispy-crunchy-on-the-outside taco filling you didn't know you needed (until now). Nutty sesame and tart lime balance the flavors for a vegetarian dish that doesn't miss the meat.

4. Avocado Crab Rolls

Move over, lobster rolls. These savory, flavorful avocado crab rolls were crowned champion of our contest for "Your Best Avocado Recipe," and boast everything you could possibly want in a summer sandwich (including buttered buns).

5. Avocado Chocolate Mousse

Avocado and chocolate — together? Yep, that's right. For the silkiest, smoothest chocolate mousse, bring a ripe avocado into the mix. The cocoa powder overtakes the avocado flavor, and the avocado's creamy texture contributes everything that dairy ingredients would (without the actual dairy).

6. Roberto Santibañez's Classic Guacamole

Any list of our best avocado recipes would be incomplete without a recipe for guacamole — and this Genius-approved recipe, which calls for just six ingredients (and no tomato), is one of our all-time favorites. You'll need some homemade tortilla chips, and we can help with that.

7. Avocado Cornbread

This is not your average cornbread — there's way more personality in this pan to love. The avocados retain their shape and creaminess during baking, and serve as the perfect contrast to the warming cumin and coarseness of the cornbread itself.

8. Deviled Avocados

Fans of deviled eggs and avocados will rejoice in this creamy, savory, vegan hybrid that packs the best parts of each one into an Instagram-worthy snack or light meal. Sub out the egg yolk for silky turmeric-hued hummus for a visual effect that can't be beat.

9. Avocado Toast Salad

Avocado toast meets panzanella in this refreshing salad mashup we'll be making all spring and summer long. Serve on its own for a light lunch, or as a first course to a delightful dinner al fresco.

By Sarah Jampel

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