Using Avocados

Using Avocados

These pear-shaped fruits crop up mostly in Mexican and South American cooking. They are best known as the base for guacamole. To choose an avocados, cradle each avocado in the palm of your hand and take home those that feel heavy for their size. Most avocados are sold unripe and are firm. Fruit that yields slightly to a gentle squeeze is further along in the ripening process. To test for ripeness, pry the small stem off the tapered end with your thumb. If it comes off easily and is green, it is ripe. If it comes off easily and is brown, it is overripe. If it does not come off, then it is unripe. Never buy avocados with soft spots or that rattle when you shake them (which means that the pit has pulled away from the flesh).

Always keep unripe avocados at room temperature. Store ripe ones in the refrigerator where they can last for as long as 10 days. With a chef's knife, you can cut an avocado in half from top to bottom through the peel and around the pit. Twist the halves apart. Place the half containing the pit face up in your hand or on a cutting board (nest it in a towel if it falls to the side). Whack the pit with the blade of the knife. Twist the knife and lift out the pit. To get the pit off the knife blade, bang it smartly on a cutting board. The knife will cut the pit in half, releasing itself. Or knock the pit off with a wooden spoon.

If you need to slice or cube avocados, cut it in half lengthwise and remove the pit. Place a double-up kitchen towel in the palm of one hand. Cradle one of the avocado halves, flesh side up, in the towel. With a paring knife, slice the flesh inside its skin in parallel slices. To cube, cut across the slices you have already made. Be careful not to cut through the skin. With a large spoon, scoop the sliced or cubed avocado from its skin starting at the wide end.

Cutting it into wedges is simple. Just trim off the avocado's top and bottom. Using a chef's knife, cut it in half from top to bottom through the peel and around the pit. Turn the fruit and cut it in half again from top to bottom. Repeat to make 2 more cuts, creating slim segments. Peel off the skin and separate the wedges from the pit.

To mash, just remove the flesh from the skin and place it in a bowl. Then for a silky-smooth consistency, mash with an old-fashioned potato ricer. For a coarser texture, mash with a fork or pastry cutter.

In order to prevent the avocados from browning, drizzle with lime or lemon juice. Or store halves avocados, cut side down, in a bowl of acidulated water. The avocados will keep well without browning for several days. For slices or cubes, place in acidulated water for up to 3 hours. Forget what you may have heard about leaving the pit in mashed avocado. It will only protect the small portion that surrounds the pit.

And to avoid the bitterness, never cook avocados, as they will turn bitter. Eat them raw or add them to a cooked dish after the dish is taken off the heat.

Avocado Tips and Guide

To speed ripening, put firm, unripe avocados in a brown paper bag. The bag will trap the ethylene gas that naturally emits from the fruit and hasten the ripening process. Crimp the bag closed and set it aside at room temperature, and the avocados will ripen in 1 to 3 days. Or, for a single avocado, add a few strips of banana peel, a whole banana, or a whole apple to the bag. The extra fruit will increase the amount of ethylene gas and speed ripening.

More Cooking Guide

Visitors Currently Online: 11