Guacamole, that luminescent green dip beloved by so many. It’s great on your toast or tacos, as a cooling addition to corn chips, and can come in a variety of regional flavour combinations.
But, would you know when it’s safe to eat, or when it had gone bad?
How to Tell if Guacamole is Bad
There’s an old saying, ‘the proof is in the pudding’, and in this case, it’s in the guacamole! These are the quickest and easiest ways to tell if your guacamole is bad.
If your guacamole is homemade, you may want to be more observant and take note of the date it was made. Guacamole should be consumed within 3 days of making and stored in a refrigerated airtight container until then.
You’re looking for two key signs here. Firstly, where good guacamole is normally thick and creamy-like, guacamole that has gone bad looks watery. You’ll often see some separation of the creamy flesh and the water it contained.
Secondly, the colour of good vs. bad guacamole is a big one. Freshly made guacamole is a vibrant shade of green. It’s bright and colourful and looks inviting to eat.
Guacamole that is old and possibly bad will look a funky shade of brown-grey-green and does nothing for eye appeal.
Guacamole that has gone bad will taste sour, rancid even. If you suspect your guacamole is off, and decide to do the taste test, do not swallow if it tastes sour!
Fresh guacamole smells zingy with its combination of lemon and garlic with the creamy flesh of an avocado. But, when that guacamole turns sour, the smell becomes revolting.
Think about what compost smells like; rotting leaves, juices that have broken down and escaped. Off guacamole has the smell of the beginning stages of compost.
This is the one area that won’t change that much. Other than the guacamole becoming looser – due to the separation of juices from flesh – the guacamole will be almost as it was when fresh.
Mould or spore growth
Guacamole, when it has gone bad, will grow mould and spores on the surface. The high nutrient value and moist environment of guacamole is ideal for moulds to grow.
If your guacamole shows any signs of small grey-blue furry growths, it’s safest to discard that guacamole immediately.
Best Before Date/Use By Date
If your guacamole is commercially produced, then there should be a respectable amount of time before its expiration.
This Best Before Date or Use By Date is a good indicator of how fresh the guacamole is, and ideally when it should be eaten by. Going past this date is ill-advised, even if it appears to be safe to eat.
Is Brown Guacamole Bad?
Before you panic at the sight of brown guacamole, just pause for a moment. Brown does not equal bad! Depending on how your guacamole has been made, it can just be a sign of oxidisation – browning of a surface due to contact with air.
The most common cause for this is a lack of acid in the guacamole, and this can be due to forgetfulness, or allergies to citrus etc. Most recipes use either lemon or lime just, not just for that zingy kick, but also to prevent the avocados bright green colour from turning brown.
If your guacamole is less more than three days old, just scrape off and discard the browned surface. You can enjoy the rest of your guacamole without worrying about whether it’s gone bad.
But, if the guacamole is older than three days, looks more like a brown-grey colour, and goes deeper than the first 8th”/2-3mm; the guacamole may have turned bad and should be thrown out right away.
Can You Eat Brown Guacamole?
Yes, provided of course that the guacamole has been kept safely. This can be in the fridge or freezer in an airtight container, or only briefly on the countertop, and has been confirmed as not having gone bad.
Using the guide in this article will tell you if your guacamole is still safe and just a little discoloured, or if it has gone bad. But, if you’re still not sure, as the old saying goes ‘when in doubt, throw it out.’
If your guacamole is just ‘brown’ and not in the stage of going bad, then you can continue to use it as planned. Brown guacamole is best consumed sooner rather than later.
How Long Does Guacamole Last
How long your guacamole will last depends entirely on how well and how long you’re going to keep it. Whilst most guacamole is made fresh and consumed within hours, there are times were making it ahead can be helpful.
With that in mind, here’s a rough guide to the maximum time guacamole will keep in these standard options:
In the Fridge
Made fresh, and with the appropriate amount of citrus juice or other acids to prevent browning, guacamole will keep for 3-4 days.
However, it is best to consume the guacamole before this time, as the flavour and texture will no longer be pleasant from day 3 onwards.
Also, on and after day 4, the guacamole will be into the danger zone of going bad, and may already have begun to turn. Spoiled guacamole, if eaten, can cause severe stomach upsets, with unwanted digestive issues as a result.
Commercially produced guacamole can last a little longer, at 5-7 days, and this is usually due to added preservatives.
In the Freezer
Given the short amount of time you can keep guacamole in your fridge or on your counter, freezer storage may surprise you.
Homemade guacamole, stored in an airtight container, will keep for up to six months in your freezer. Some manufactured guacamole may recommend shorter times, and it’s best to adhere to their guidelines.
When it comes to thawing out your guacamole, it’s a simple process. All you need to do is sit the container in a bowl of cool water, and leave it until fully thawed. As with all frozen foods; once thawed, food should not be frozen again, and guacamole is no different.
The cool water helps keep the container at an even temperature while the contents thaw, which prevents uneven ageing of the guacamole. Once thawed, store your guacamole in the fridge, and consume within 2-3 days as you would normally for fresh guacamole.
On the Countertop
Fresh homemade guacamole really should be consumed within hours, especially if it’s kept on a countertop. A store-bought commercially made guacamole may keep for 3-4 hours at room temperature, but should also be discarded after this time.
Owing to the ambient temperatures, keep guacamole on a countertop, or even ‘safe’ in a microwave is unwise. The warmer temperatures speed up the ageing process and accelerate the breaking down of the avocado’s oil and fibres.
Guacamole that has been left out for more than 4 hours, or overnight (even if it was cool) should be thrown out immediately.
How to Store Guacamole
Ideally, only make your guacamole minutes before you plan on consuming it; fresh is best after all.
However, you may want to store your guacamole for a few days, or even a few months. These are the best ways to protect your guacamole from ageing, or at least giving you the maximum amount of time to consume it
Airtight containers: Whether you keep it on the counter for a couple of hours, in the fridge for days, or in the freezer for months, an airtight container is your best option
Keep commercially produced guacamole in their containers, and these can also be frozen as-is until wanted.
Fridge: Keep your guacamole in your refrigerator, wherever it’s coolest and least likely to be near the door when it opens. Every fridge, regardless of age or design, will let in small puffs of warm air when the door is opened.
Storing temperature-sensitive foods near where the door opens will expose them to this gusting warm air. For these foods, store them towards the back, and the cooler zones in your fridge.
Freezer: Much like with fridges, freezers also suffer from warm air sneaking in when they’re opened. This can also cause condensation build-up around foods, and increase the risk of freezer burn on your guacamole. So store your guacamole deeper to protect it.
Countertop: This is unsuitable for storage, and should only be used for serving. As mentioned, the warmer temperature will not keep guacamole for long. Use cling film pressed down over the top of the guacamole to help keep your guacamole safer before serving. This keeps air from oxidizing the avocado and thus turning brown.
To Sum Up
Guacamole, an awesome dip/topping for just about everything we enjoy. But, it does need to be kept cool and eaten soon after making.
For best results keep it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days, or the freezer for up to six months.