What you see: A dark, purplish “dust” on the surface of your avocado, just under the skin.
What it is: Pigment from the skin.
Eat or toss: Eat! The purple on the avocado’s flesh is normal and doesn’t raise questions about the safety of the avocado.
That dark, purplish stuff just under the avocado’s skin is fine
Any avocado eater worth their toast knows that the creamy fruits’ skin ripens from green to blackish. (And here, of course, we’re talking about Hass avocados, the ones most common in American supermarkets.)
While an avocado is still green, chlorophyll colors its skin. But as it darkens, the hue increasingly comes from purple, red and blue plant pigments called anthocyanins (regular EatOrToss readers will recognize anthocyanins from their antics in everything from oranges to cauliflower to onions).
That’s simple enough, but sometimes, like all of us, the avocado gets carried away and the color designated for the skin lands on the flesh of the fruit. That’s why you might see some stray purple or an almost blackish residue when you pull back the peel.
Logically, such color transfer is more common in very ripe or dark fruit, according to Kristine White, director of global quality assurance and research and development at Mission Produce. She said it’s also more likely in fruit harvested at the end of the season. In any case, a little purple under the avocado’s hood doesn’t indicate anything is wrong.
“Although the pigment transfer to the pulp of the avocado may look alarming, it is safe to eat and is not known to impact the flavor,” White, whose company describes itself as “the global leader in the worldwide avocado business,” wrote to me.
Admittedly, the purple splotches don’t look very attractive and you might be tempted to cut them off. Don’t! Those pigments are healthy antioxidants.
Are you seeing discoloration that’s more black, brown or gray and extends deeper into the avocado’s flesh? In that case, the avocado might be afflicted with a different issue. Check out the EatOrToss Avocado Library for more images of “imperfect” avocados.
- Mission Produce. Kristine White, director of quality assurance and research and development. Via Jenna Aguilera, marketing communications manager. Email exchange. April 2022.
- Skin colour and pigment changes during ripening of ‘Hass’ avocado fruit. Katy A. Cox, Tony K. McGhie, Anne White, Allan B. Woolf (The Horticulture and Food Research Institute of New Zealand Limited, Mt Albert Research Centre.). Postharvest Biology and Technology. Accepted March 2004.
- Pigments in Avocado Tissue and Oil. Ofelia B. O. Ashton, Marie Wong, Tony K. McGhie, Rosheila Vather; Yan Wang; Cecilia Requejo-Jackman; Padmaja Ramankutty; Allan B. Woolf. Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry. 2006.