Up until the early 1980s or so, the avocado was generally considered a regional fruit in America. (Yes, it’s a fruit.) Before then it had mostly been enjoyed by Californians – where the fruit mainly grows in the country – and those of Latino origin, too. At the time, the warm weather “alligator pear” was simply too pricey to export as well, especially to a consumer base that didn’t even know they had much need for it.
Nowadays, Americans consume over 80 million pounds of avocados per year. Of course, that’s mainly in the form of guacamole, that delectable dip of mashed avocados, salt, lime, and cilantro. But it doesn’t have to be. The avocado is far more versatile than you’d think. It’s tasty and healthful, and capable of becoming an even more prominent part of your life.
Finding a Good Avocado
Unlike most other fruits, avocados do not ripen on the tree, instead only softening and becoming edible after they have been harvested. Generally, a “good” avocado can be identified simply by noting the color of the fruit’s skin. In the case of the prominent Hass avocado, you should look for a dark purple, almost black, skin tone. Still, the best way to find an avocado that is ready to consume is by touch. Gently squeeze the avocado – if you are able to lightly indent it with your fingertips, then it is probably ripe.
A Hack for Rapidly Ripening an Avocado
Sometimes, you may be desperate for guacamole that very night, yet find your store only has bright-green avocados that are hard as rocks. That’s not necessarily a problem. Place your unripe avocado in a paper bag that is free of holes and fold the bag tightly shut. The bag will trap the ethylene gas being released from the fruit, ripening the avocado at a faster pace. Adding bananas and apples to the sack will cause even more ethylene to be released, allowing for even faster ripening.
How to Prepare an Avocado
Slice gently around the avocado lengthwise, halving it. Make sure your knife fully makes it to the pit in the center, assuring a clean separation.
Firmly plunge a sturdy knife – preferably a chef’s knife – into the pit. Use the base of the knife if possible. (Caution: there is always the potential for mishaps, so hold the pitted avocado half using an oven mitt if you are concerned.) Once the knife if fully embedded in the pit, twist until the pit releases from the avocado. Slide the pit from the blade.
For guacamole and many other avocado recipes, you can simply scoop the avocado meat out of the skin. However, if you want beautiful slivers of intact avocado, you will have to carefully remove the skin. Using a smaller paring knife, slice your avocado into your desired slivers. Then, run a thin but large spoon between the skin and the flesh to dislodge the avocado slivers. You can also peel the skin directly away if that is easier.
Some Hacks For Preventing Browning
Due to possessing the enzyme polyphenol oxidase, which can easily oxidize, fresh avocado is highly susceptible to turning brown and unsightly upon sustained contact with the air. A few methods are thought to counteract this problem, though:
• Rubbing the exposed avocado with lemon juice or another acid
• Keeping the pit in contact with the avocado at all times
• Adding water to the container where you are (briefly) storing your avocado.
Excerpted from an article written by Aaron Goldfarb originally published on Fix.com. Used with permission.