Avocados are a fruit, (yes a fruit) that contains (unsaturated) fat. That’s what gives them that wonderfully rich, buttery taste. There are a lot of varieties of avocado but the two that are most readily available here in Boston are the Hass and the Fuerte.
The Fuerte avocado has a smooth thin green skin while the Hass is darker, almost black, with a pebbly textured skin. Many people prefer to use the darker (Hass) ones because they have a richer more pronounced flavor. (Unfortunately, they also have a few more calories than the Fuerte avocado.)
When using avocados, planning ahead is essential. For example, if you try to make guacamole with a hard, under-ripe avocado, neither the texture nor the taste will be very pleasant.
Buy avocados that yield to gentle pressure but are not soft or mushy. Unfortunately, this kind of avocado is difficult to find in many grocery stores since avocados, like bananas, continue to ripen even when they have been taken off the tree. Your supermarket will often buy fresh-picked avocados, so you usually don’t have any choice but to buy a really hard avocado.
Fortunately, you can hasten the ripening process by placing the hard avocados in a brown paper bag for 2-4 days. As with bananas, you can speed up the ripening process by sticking an apple (preferably a green Granny Smith apple) in the bag as well. (It’s the ethylene from the apple that does the trick!)
How to Cut and Peel an Avocado
Begin by cutting two avocados lengthwise rather than making the cut around the width.
(It will be virtually impossible to remove the pit if you slice it in half around the fat part.)
Separate the two pieces. Leave the avocado on the cutting board and (CAREFULLY!) give the pit a thwack with a big sharp knife.
Twist the knife and the pit should pop out.
If you now put the back of the knife against your palm, you should be able to pinch the pit off of the knife with your thumb and fore finger, with no danger of getting cut. (I’m right handed so I would continue to hold the knife in my right hand and put the back of the knife in my left palm to remove the pit from the knife.)
With a spoon…
…scoop out the avocado.
It’s OK to put the skin down the garbage disposer, but I just throw the pit (actually called the stone) in the trash. The stone is about as hard as a golf ball!
It’s important to note that, once exposed to air, avocado discolors very quickly. Adding lime or lemon juice helps to prevent discoloration. It is widely believed that an avocado pit left in guacamole will help to maintain the lush green color. Wrong. Stick with the lemon or lime juice.
Avocados are almost always eaten raw. If your recipe calls for adding the avocado to something hot, do it at the very last minute, just before serving. They actually turn bitter when they are cooked…Who knew?
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