Don't Fall For This Viral Avocado Storage Hack

In this internet age, we seem to have more "hacks" at our disposal than ever before. And when it comes to food preparation, this can be a good thing. Think, for example, of 2020's viral TikTok video instructing viewers how to microwave-reheat rice by sticking an ice cube on top — which apparently works very well — or 2021's tortilla sandwich folding hack, which makes constructing a four-layer griddled tortilla sandwich a breeze.

Last month, yet another kitchen hack came along that quickly went viral. It originated on Lisa Couch Williams' Facebook page, where the user wrote a post describing how to keep avocados from going bad long-term. "Avocados stay good for-freaking-ever if you put them in water in the fridge," Williams wrote. "These have been in here for two whole dang weeks while the control group on the countertop rotted. They're perfect. I'm speechless."

In the photo, Williams shows the method, which involves placing some avocados in a large container, filling it with water, and storing it in the fridge. "UPDATE: pulled the last one out after FOUR WEEKS and it was perfect!" Williams later added to the post. And though other outlets such as Southern Living and Food52 have jumped onto this avocado hack bandwagon, it's not necessarily a good idea by food safety standards.

The hack might allow pathogenic bacteria to grow

Although the storing-avocados-in-cold-water hack has taken the internet by storm, Today reported recently that the practice — although it does work well to keep ripe avocados from over-ripening — is not the best idea from a food safety standpoint. Today's reporter, who tried the hack and found that it was effective, also contacted a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) spokesperson, who downvoted, so to speak, this hack.

"The FDA does not recommend this practice," the spokseperson told Today. "The main concern is with the possibility that any residual human pathogens (i.e. Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella spp., etc.) that may be residing on the avocado surface may potentially multiply during the storage when submerged in water."

As explained by Today, both Listeria and Salmonella are potentially very dangerous pathogens that can cause severe illness. Additionally, the FDA spokesperson pointed out that disinfecting the avocados prior to their water dunk wouldn't work, as the pathogens can quickly colonize the interior of the fruit regardless. You might want to skip this hack and simply store your ripe avocados — dry — in the fridge, where they'll gain a few extra days' shelf life.