Turns Out Martha Stewart Is Storing Her Avocados Incorrectly—This Is What You Should Do Instead

We love free tips from Martha—just not this one.

a photo of Martha Stewart
Photo: George Pimentel/WireImage/Getty Images

The perfect avocado is a truly ephemeral thing—it should be tender to the touch without being overly soft, have fully darkened skin without a mottled interior and have a pit that pops out cleanly when you're prepping your avocado. If you happen to have several avocados get to this stage at one time, any solution that will help you keep them all at the perfect level of ripeness will start to sound like a great idea.

We have to assume that instinct is what got the best of Martha Stewart over the weekend. On Sunday, Stewart shared some photos of the breakfast spread she whipped up that morning, including freshly baked bagels with salmon, soft-boiled eggs, avocado slices and homemade yogurt with honey. While that breakfast sounds absurdly delicious (and packed with anti-inflammatory ingredients, too), Stewart's added tip for how she keeps her avocados fresh gave us pause.

"Do you know the ripe avocado trick??," Stewart asked in her caption. "When ripe, avocados will stay perfectly in a bowl of water in the refrigerator. These were two weeks old!!!!"

If that reality sounds too good to be true, your instincts are right on the mark. The Food and Drug Administration has explained that this method for storing avocados could actually make you sick. Avocados can have Salmonella and Listeria on their surface, and storing them in water only gives those pathogens a better chance at multiplying themselves. It may seem like simply disinfecting the surface of the avocado would help you avoid this problem, but that isn't the case. Even if the stem on your avocado is intact, the fruit doesn't have airtight skin. Contaminated water can seep into the opening between the avocado flesh and the skin, keeping your avocado unoxidized but potentially contaminated with pathogens that can make you extremely ill.

"Research performed by FDA scientists has shown that Listeria monocytogenes has the potential to infiltrate and internalize into the pulp of avocados when submerged in refrigerated dump tanks within 15 days during refrigerated storage," a spokesperson from the FDA previously told Good Morning America. "In this case, even surface disinfecting the avocado skin prior to slicing would not be able to remove the contamination."

Listeriosis can cause flu-like symptoms, including fevers, headaches and vomiting, depending on how severe your case is. Pregnant people are especially vulnerable to Listeria, as are folks older than 65 and those with weakened immune systems. Those exposed to Salmonella may experience stomach cramping, nausea and fevers as well.

Stewart's method went viral last year, too, when a Facebook post made the same suggestion. And we get it—the idea of on-demand ripe avocados is alluring. But we would recommend simply keeping your avocados in the refrigerator—no bowl of water necessary—in order to slow down the ripening process. Otherwise, keep them on the counter so they slowly reach that perfect level of ripeness.

Avocados are a healthy ingredient to keep around. They're good for your gut, heart and brain, and they're a great way to incorporate plant-based healthy fats in your day. Just be sure to store them properly so you reap all of the benefits without any of the stomachaches.

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