I don’t know how this happened! How is it possible that I hadn’t discovered the magic that is the avocado until adulthood??? Well, I know now that one of my favorite things is avocado covered in lime (or lemon) juice and sprinkled with salt. And that limed and salted, they are fantastic in salads. And just how amazing a simple guacamole is. And that adding 1/4 – 1/2 an avocado to a smoothie will give it a beautifully thick and smooth texture. And that adding cubed avocado to an omelette is simply fantastic! What about some of the amazing deserts that can be made? And now that I’m living Paleo I understand how important the healthy fats in avocados are.
But how do you pick out a good avocado at the store? And how do you cut an avocado? And can you plant the pit? Well, let me answer some, actually all of those questions – and more!
How Do You Choose Avocados?
This is going to depend on when you’re planning on using it. Most often I find that the avocados in the store need some ripening before they can be eaten. If you squeeze them gently, they’re too firm- almost rock hard. An avocado that is ready to eat is soft to the touch, but not so soft that it feels like gelatin or liquid underneath the skin.
Speaking of the skin, it should be dark, sometimes with a hint of green.
Hi all, Holley here crashing Raj’s post: How DO you choose an avocado?? I was having dinner (and making salsa) with friends and they told me this story, which had me giggling. Like Raj, they had previously steered clear of intimidating avocados, had purchased ones that were too hard or too soft, but were determined to get it right this time. There they are standing at the avocados (the testicle fruit, really: “avocado” is derived from the Aztec word for testicle. I do not make this up). Smart phone in hand and the other hand free for avocado groping. The inter-web said: “touch your forehead; if the avocado feels like pressing your forehead, it isn’t quite ripe enough. Next, press your cheek; if the avocado feels like your cheek, it is too soft, and over ripe. Press your nose, right at the tip; if the avocado feels like pressing on your nose, it is likely just right.” Apparently it worked, but they felt a little silly pressing on their faces and handling the avocados. Wish I could have seen it!
If you won’t be using your avocado immediately, but want the avocado to ripen faster (stored in the fridge, ripening is delayed and may last a number of days without going soft), put it in a paper bag with apples or bananas. The apple or banana will release ethylene gas as they ripen which in turn also encourages ripening. The more fruit which release ethylene, such as apples, that you put in the bag, the faster the ripening of your avocado.
Un-ripened avocados can last in the refrigerator for at least 5 days (when I buy mesh bags of unripe avocados, they have lasted up to a couple of weeks in the crisper – depending on the other fruits and vegetables in the same bin). Just remove what you need 1-4 days before needing it (likely only a day if using the above ripening method).
Cut avocados turn brown (like apples and bananas do) when exposed to oxygen in the air with time. Lemon or lime juice, or vinegar, will prevent that. Leave the un-needed portion in the skin and coat the exposed flesh with lemon or lime juice, then wrap in plastic-wrap to prevent oxygen exposure.
How To Cut An Avocado
Here’s the moment you’ve been waiting for! Actually the moment you’re probably waiting for is getting avocado into your mouth, but here’s how to get closer to that stage:
- Avocado - as many as needed
- Start by washing the outside of the avocado (you don't know where this thing has been...).
- Dry it off with a towel (you don't want it to slip out of your hands).
- Holding the avocado in your non-dominant hand, use a sharp knife to cut into the avocado vertically in middle (the knife will hit the large pit in the middle, and "roll" the fruit so that you are able to cut all the way around the pit, leaving two halves still attached.
- Twist the two halves in opposite directions to release one half from the pit.
- Holding the half with the pit still attached, carefully (for the love of all things wonderful, don't cut yourself) strike the pit with your knife blade so that it lodges into the pit.
- With the blade securely wedged into the pit, turn the knife clockwise of counter-clockwise to twist the pit out of the second half. Yay! You're pit-free!
- Holding one half in your non-dominant hand, use a knife to slice ½"-width length-wise slices (or whatever width you need), careful not to cut through the skin (maybe hold it in place on a cutting board as opposed to in your hand - that way you can't blame me if you cut yourself).
- If you make the middle cut all the way through the skin, it's easier to pop the flesh off of the skin. I typically just pull the skin back with my hand rather than using a spoon or some other tool. Double yay!
- This is the same idea as the slices, but this time do NOT cut through the skin, and cut both length and width-wise. Again, ½" or whatever size you want.
- Now push the skin from the outside, forcing it to be inside-out. This will pop the avocado cubes off. It doesn't always push out that easily, but I'll just use my thumb or a spoon to pop the flesh free. Nailed it!
I’ll be honest, I don’t have much experience in this department, but I will tell you about my experience and what I read afterwards.
I grew my first avocado plants by wrapping 3 pits in a damp paper towel, then placed everything in a Ziplock bag and leaving the bag in a dark place. I think I left it under the bed or in a closet or something for a few months. When I stumbled upon it all three had sprouted. I planted them in a pot and each of them shot up a stalk very quickly. So quickly in fact that they grew to 3 feet in no time. But they were super skinny stalks that actually couldn’t support the weight of the leaves! I ended up braiding them together and they continued to grow in height and were still unable to hold themselves up. So weird.
It really made me wonder so I did some quick Google research at the time and found that avocado plants can grow in the form of bushes or trees. Apparently if you prune the top few leaves as they start to grow, it will encourage the plant to stay shorter and form a bush. Botany: crazy times.
Holley here with more post crashing… I have grown avocados, but not long enough: they take 6-10 years to mature enough to make fruit, and you need multiple plants as they have a male/female flower pattern, and both need to be mature and flowering to produce the “offspring”. My great Granny (lived to be 102) had an enormous avocado tree by her mail boxes, and I remember kicking them off the path as a kid. Little did I know about the deliciousness inside!
As I said, I’m clearly not the expert on this, but I thought you’d enjoy my story. Here also are some pros to tell you how to do it, instead of how not to do it:
And here are a bunch of recipes that contain the amazing avocado.
I hope you found this helpful… and entertaining (thanks for weighing in Holley!). Oh! Now I get the testicle thing: