Guacamole contains raw vegetables, including avocados, tomatoes and onions, which require proper handling to prevent premature spoilage or illness. Although guacamole has a fairly short shelf life in the refrigerator, you can extend its storage life by packaging it correctly or freezing it for later use.
Food Safety Concerns
Guacamole, like most fresh vegetables, can harbor illness-causing pathogens like E. coli. Safe handling prevents most illness and prevents the guacamole from spoiling too quickly. Always wash your hands in warm, soapy water before handling the avocado or other ingredients, and wash the vegetables thoroughly in cool running water before using them. Make the guacamole using clean knives and utensils and avoid cross-contamination. For example, don't slice an avocado on the same cutting board you just used to slice raw meat. Dispose of the guacamole promptly if it shows mold growth or develops a bad odor.
Avocados begin to oxidize and turn brown quickly when exposed to air. Browning is not a sign of spoilage but it does make the guacamole unappetizing. Adding lime or lemon juice to the guacamole slows browning because of the acids in the juice. Most recipes require about 1/2 teaspoon of lime or lemon juice per avocado. Store-bought guacamole usually already contains the juice or citric acid to slow browning. If browning does occur, you can remove the brown top layer and eat the dip beneath it with no concerns.
Proper packaging prevents both browning and spoilage. Keep the guacamole refrigerated until you are ready to serve it, and return any leftovers to the refrigerator immediately. Keeping the guacamole at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower slows spoiling and allows you to store it for up to three days in the refrigerator. Covering the surface of the dip prevents browning, because oxidation only occurs if the guacamole is exposed to air. Place a piece of plastic food wrap directly on the surface of the guacamole before putting the lid on the container.
Freezing allows you to store guacamole for up to six months, whether it's purchased or homemade. You must package it and freeze it immediately to ensure there is no exposure to pathogens that cause illness or pathogens. Use freezer-safe containers and cover the guacamole with plastic to prevent browning after thawing. Thaw it in the fridge for about 24 hours before using it.
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