Can You Store Onions with Avocados (and Other Fruits)?


When it comes to storing fruits and vegetables, there are few tricks to consider. One of which is pairing onions with avocados that are sliced open for later use. The amount of time left for consumption when you cut an avocado is relatively short.

You can store onions together with avocados to prevent their fast deterioration. This is also a perfect combination especially if you’re planning to make guacamole. Preserving avocado with the presence of onion has been an effective practice for many kitchens.

We may know the trick, but how about the concept behind it? Why does it work?

Certainly, you want to find out how storing onions with avocados and other fruits affects freshness. Read on to learn more about it.  

How Do Onions Keep Avocado Fresh?

The popularity of avocado for different types of cuisines has skyrocketed over the years. When you walk to the produce section and find crates of avocados it is almost inevitable to grab a piece or two.

While this creamy nutrient fruit has become a favorite especially among millennials, there is a twinge of frustration with the fact that it easily turns brown upon opening. Typically, you only have around four hours until the avocado changes its color.

This certainly won’t work for your benefit when you only want to eat half of the fruit and save the other for another time.

The brown flesh of an avocado is not necessarily harmful or inedible. It’s not equal to spoilage or rotting. But, I think we can all agree that it is unappealing and generally tastes bitter.

So, what can you do to prevent this kind of discoloration n and save yourself another trip to the grocery store?

This is where onions come to the rescue.

For people who are fans of avocados, you may have encountered this hack many times already. In an airtight container, place the sliced or peeled avocado next to the cut onion.

Another way is to chop red onions and place them below the avocado. Put it inside a refrigerator and open it for later consumption.

Once you check it after hours of storage, you’ll be surprised how the avocado retains its original color instead of turning brown. Why does it work?

Several fruits and vegetables, much like the avocado release an enzyme called polyphenol oxidase (PPO) once it’s cut open. This enzyme changes the color of the fruit when exposed to oxygen. The process is referred to as an oxidation reaction or enzymatic browning.

Onions are known to have natural sulfur compounds that prevent the oxidation reaction in sliced avocado. This makes storing onions with avocados effective in extending the freshness of the fruit for days instead of hours.

Can You Store Onions With Other Fruits?

Witnessing the marvel of storing onions with avocados may have you thinking if you can do the same with other fruits. After all, enzymatic browning is a common occurrence among fresh fruits and vegetables.

To give you an idea of how common this oxidative reaction is, here is a list of produce prone to enzymatic browning.

1.     Apples

2.     Avocado

3.     Bananas

4.     Cauliflower

5.     Eggplant

6.     Lettuce

7.     Mushroom

8.     Peach

9.     Pear

10.  Potato

While onions work well with avocado, we cannot say the same for other fruits. In terms of preventing the enzymatic browning, onions continue to perform well.

However, it’s a good condition that it blends well with avocado considering both are key ingredients in making guacamole. Hence, there are little to no issues about the flavor.

Now, try to imagine the strong aroma and flavor of an onion transferring to an apple. You would probably opt to buy a bag or two of the fruit. It is for this reason why we don’t simply use onions for the sole purpose of inhibiting the enzymatic browning.

Likewise, keeping onions next to other fruits may even lead to spoilage.

Naturally, we are talking about the forbidden pairing of onions and potatoes in the same storage area. Both are known to release moisture. High water content encourages the growth of bacteria and fungi spoils the potatoes and onions leaving them rotten for a short period of time.

On the other hand, if we’re simply storing an unpeeled onion next to fresh unopened fruit, it won’t have a critical effect. Contrary to popular belief, onions do not trigger ripening.

Onions do not release ethylene gas which is responsible for speeding up the ripening process of fruits and vegetables. Still, when storing fruits and vegetables specifically those that come across as aromatic, you have to

What Are the Other Ways to Prevent Enzymatic Browning?

There is more to enzymatic browning than meets the eye. It’s not just about changing colors.

The flavor of the fruit is at stake. Several times, it develops a flavor similar to tea or earth chocolate. But a critical effect of browning is the diminishing nutrients that come with it.

Since the presence of onion is not exactly welcoming to all types of fruits and vegetables that change pigmentation, there are other natural ways you could try.

1. Water and Sugar

Soaking the sliced fruit in sugar dissolved in water is another effective way to prevent browning. This is typically applicable to fruits like apples, pears, and peaches. Of course, it’s a different story in the case of veggies.

Unless you are experimenting with your recipe, it would have been awkward to sweeten your mushroom. Fleshy fruits that aren’t mushy are more likely to be subjected to this method since vegetables are often prepared immediately than later.

2. Salt Solution

Salt has its own way of slowing down oxidation. The presence of chloride ions in salts makes oxidative reaction difficult for the PPO enzyme.

By adding about 1/8 teaspoon of salt into a cup of water and soaking your sliced fruit into the solution for a few minutes, you can keep it away from browning. Rinse it with fresh water to wash off the salty taste.

 3. Ascorbic Acid from Citrus Fruits

Substances with lower pH or higher acidity deter the mechanism of the PPO enzyme. Thereby, adding vinegar and other highly acidic liquids prevent browning.

However, as mentioned before, more than inhibiting PPO, the taste quality is also a critical factor. Hence, ascorbic acid from citrus fruits like lemon is preferable over vinegar.

4. Physical Methods (Blanching and Freezing)

Aside from chemical intervention, you could always consider the physical methods of inhibiting PPO.

In the absence of ascorbic acid powder or lemon, you can simply slice your fruit or veggie while submerged in the water to prevent exposure to open air. You can also use hot water during blanching. This is normally done with vegetables.

With fruits, however, you can opt to freeze them especially if you’re planning to make a smoothie real soon.  

Another option is using readily available chemicals in the store that are designed for preservation. Inorganic compounds like sulfites and sulfur dioxides are common ingredients of preservatives.

But of course, if you can go au naturel, then, by all means, do so. It keeps your produce organic and untainted.

In a Nutshell

Storing onions with avocados is a neat trick to preserve the fruit. It prevents discoloration, quality degradation, and diminishing nutrients.

As effective as placing an onion with avocado is to extend freshness, it doesn’t necessarily apply to other fruits that undergo oxidation reaction.

In choosing a preservation process, always consider its impact on the taste, quality, and smell of the produce. You can still use other preservation methods that work best for the fruit or vegetable you purchased or harvested.

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