There's nothing more satisfying than slicing into a perfect avocado. But if you miss that slim window of time when an avocado is just right, you also know the crushing disappointment at the sight of a spotted, mushy mess.
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While an overripe avocado may not appear appetizing, it's usually still edible. "Overripe avocados are safe to eat if they are simply soft, but still hold some firmness, and have some brown spots," Kristy Del Coro, RDN, a registered dietitian and culinary nutritionist based in Portland, Maine, tells LIVESTRONG.com.
Conversely, if an avocado exhibits signs of mold, the skin appears dented and completely soft, the inside is a darker yellow or brown completely throughout or there's a distinct off odor, this means it's rancid and not good to eat, Del Coro explains.
But as long as there's still some healthy flesh somewhere inside, a spotted avocado can be saved from the compost pile and have a place on your plate. In fact, overripe avocados even boast culinary benefits: The buttery texture of the versatile fruit makes it ideal for incorporating into certain recipes where you want a smooth, silky puree or creamy emulsification, Del Coro says.
From desserts to salad dressing, you'll never have to toss another avocado in the trash with these five creative ideas.
1. Fancy Up Fried Eggs
Eggs and avocado complement each other like all famously delicious food duos (think: peanut butter and jelly and spaghetti and meatballs). And if you've never tried this perfect pairing, you have an optimal opportunity to experiment when your avocado is a tad ripe.
Overripe avocados made into a mash or guacamole go great served with fried eggs, Del Coro says. Indeed, a little avocado can transform a boring breakfast plate into a spicy huevos rancheros dish.
A Recipe to Try
2. Sneak It Into Sweets
Baking your browned avocados into brownies and cookies may seem like a stretch, but believe us — it works.
"Chocolate is a perfect way to mask overripe avocado," Del Coro says. Not only does chocolate camouflage the sad brown color of an avocado past its prime, but it also overpowers the flavor. So, you get all the nutrients (and velvety texture) of an avocado without sacrificing the taste of your favorite desserts.
From chocolate brownies and cookies to mousse, pudding, ice cream and ice pops, the possibilities are practically endless.
A Recipe to Try
3. Spice Up Salad Dressing
Sack the store-bought salad dressing and switch things up with a homemade variety using overripe avocados.
"Ripe avocados make a great base for a creamy salad dressing like a green goddess dressing or a healthier take on a ranch dressing — basically any mayo-based salad dressing," Del Coro says.
Blending brown avocados with a garlicky lemon tahini dressing would also make for a terrific salad topper, she adds.
4. Stir It Into Smoothies
Want to up the nutritional value of your smoothies? "Overripe avocadoes with some harmless brown spots are perfect to toss into a smoothie for extra creaminess" and an added dose of heart healthy fats, Del Coro says.
Specifically, avocados make a great complement to tropical fruits like pineapple, banana and mango as well as dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale, she says.
Recipes to Try
5. Add It to Hummus
If you've ever wondered how to make your homemade hummus even creamier, look no further than those brown-spotted avocados on your kitchen counter. Seriously, just imagine the lip-smacking possibilities of a hummus-guacamole fusion.
Plus, adding ripe avocado boosts the nutritional benefits of traditional hummus, amping up the dip's good fats, fiber, potassium and B vitamins, Del Coro says.
Add overripe avocado to this Classic Hummus recipe.