Avocados- you’ve probably seen them used in many different recipes lately. And rightfully so. Not only do they taste delicious, but avocados provide about 20 essential nutrients. They are high in fiber, Vitamin E and B, potassium , folic acid and also a great source of monounsaturated fat (the good kind of fat). And did you know they are actually a fruit, not a vegetable? Avocados were once a luxury food, provided only to royalty. And no wonder, judging by all of the great things you can make with them! Here are some tips that will help you the next time you want to use an avocado, from selecting to preparing, along with some great avocado recipes that showcase their wonderful flavor.
Selecting an Avocado
- To tell if an avocado is ripe and ready to use in your recipe, squeeze the avocado lightly. If the fruit is ripe, it will feel slightly firm, but will yield to the pressure of your hand.
- There are seven varieties of avocados grown commercially, but Hass avocados are the most common variety, and are characterized by their green skin that turns darker as it ripens. Other varieties, such as Fuerte, maintain their light green color and do not darken as they ripen. Avoid avocados that have dark spots on the skin, or if they feel overly soft.
- When used in cooking, both butter and olive oil help carry the flavors of the food, and warming them accentuates this property. Butter is smooth and creamy, adding a dairy richness that no oil can match. Olive oil provides a unique flavor and aroma. Together, they enhance the flavor of your foods.
- If you plan on using your avocado immediately, purchase one that yields to the pressure of your hand and is slightly soft. If you aren’t using them for a few days, purchase slightly harder avocados — they will ripen in the next couple of days.
Ripening an Avocado
- To speed up ripening, place the avocado(s) in a brown paper bag and keep at room temperature until the fruit is ripened and ready to eat, usually around 2 to 4 days.
- Adding a banana or apple to the bag will help the avocados ripen faster, as the ethylene gas the fruit gives off is a ripening component.
Cutting an Avocado
- Start by cutting a ripe avocado lengthwise, around the pit. Twist the halves to pull apart.
- Remove the pit by gently sliding a spoon underneath and lifting it out. Although you may have seen people striking the pit with a kitchen knife, this can be unsafe and isn’t recommended.
- The easiest way to remove the avocado meat from the skin is by scooping it out with a spoon. You can always peel the skin off with a knife or your fingers, too.
You can store avocados whole in the refrigerator, uncut, for about two or three days. To store avocados that have already been cut, you’ll need to take a few extra steps to make sure the fruit doesn’t turn brown. To prevent browning, sprinkle the cut avocados with lemon or lime juice, or white vinegar. Place them in an air-tight container and store in the refrigerator.
Did you know you can freeze avocados? This can come in especially handy when you have extra avocados in the kitchen that are ripe and won’t be used within the next day. To freeze avocados:
- Prepare the avocados as listed above, removing the pit and peel.
- Puree the avocado meat in a food processor, or mash with a potato masher. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice for every two avocados.
- Leaving about 1 inch of air space, place the pureed avocado in an air-tight container. Seal the container and freeze for up to 4 months.
- Pureed avocado can be used in sandwiches, dips, salads and pastas.
We have plenty of avocado recipe ideas on our website. Try these delicious dishes to get the most out of your avocados!