Everything you need to know about avocados!
A perfectly ripe avocado is one of life’s great little pleasures. When you cut into an avocado and discover perfectly smooth, creamy, pale green flesh, you can’t help but smile and think it’s your lucky day.
An avocado can be a meal on it’s own, after all it is considered the most nutritious fruit (yes, technically it is a fruit) in the world, because it contains all the macronutrients – fat, protein and carbohydrates, as well as an array of vitamins and minerals. They’re also super high in monounsaturated fats (the good fats that help lower cholesterol), fibre, potassium, vitamin E and folate. They’re so good for you that I think the old saying should be changed to “an avocado a day keeps the doctor away!”
I eat avocado in some way or another almost every day, whether it’s in a smoothie (like my everyday green smoothie, or avocado, berry and spinach super smoothie!), slices with my eggs for breakfast, in a salad at lunch or dinner, guacamole as a snack, or even dessert (my chocolate avocado mousse is amazing!).
The large majority of avocados grown in NZ are the hass variety, and are grown in Northland and the Bay of Plenty.
What’s the best way to pick an avocado? And how should you store them?
NOT by squeezing it! Squeezing avocados causes bruising, so don’t be one of those people that goes through squeezing all the avocados at the supermarket (I admit I used to do it many years ago before I knew any better!). Hass avocados change colour as they ripen so choose an avocado based on its colour:
Bright Green – not ripe
Store in fruit bowl until skin turns brown green. If you want to speed up the ripening process, pop your avocado in a paper bag with an apple or banana – these fruits release ethylene gas, which is a natural ripening agent!
Olive Green – not ripe
Store in fruit bowl until skin turns brown green.
Brown Green – firm ripe
Ready to eat. Perfect for slicing or dicing for salads. Store in fridge to keep firm or continue to ripen in fruit bowl until purple brown.
Purple Brown – soft ripe
Ready to eat. Perfect for mashing, guacamole and dips. Store in fridge to avoid it becoming over-ripe.
Dark brown (almost black) – over-ripe
Past its best. So avoid any this colour and that are very soft or have dented or flattened areas (a sign they’ll have rotton bits inside).
I prefer to buy avocados when they’re slightly under-ripe (at the olive green to brown green stage), then leave them out on the bench and within a day or two they’re perfect!
If you have lots, keep any you don’t want to use just yet in the fridge to delay them ripening, then just pull one or two out every couple of days to ripen!
Half eaten avocado or too many avocados?
Once you’ve cut into an avocado, you can store it in the fridge to eat within a couple of days, however to prevent oxidisation (the browning you get on the surface), squeeze over lemon/lime juice or white vinegar and store in an airtight container. If the surface goes a little brown, that’s fine…just scrape it off and the flesh underneath will be fine to eat. If you’ve got more avocados than you can use, you can always freeze them – either whole (their colour and taste stays the same, however their texture will be softer when you defrost them, but will be perfect for smoothies, dips and guacamole) or puree it with lemon juice and keep in a ziplock bag in the freezer. They’ll keep for months! Imagine having avocados at your fingertips all through winter!
Some of my favourite avocado recipes
This simple prawn, mango and avocado salad is so incredibly tasty, it’s one of my favourite summer salads. The flavours and textures are perfectly balanced. I also love avocado with raw fish in a ceviche, so here is a recipe for a divine little marinated raw fish salad with pineapple, coconut and guacamole which would be a great as a starter for summer entertaining. For even more avocado recipes (I’ve got heaps!), click here!
Lastly, here’s an interesting avocado fact for you in case you get asked the question in a game of trivia. In some countries, they’re are called an alligator pear after their reptile-like skin and pear shape – how cool is that?!
To be doing what I am today is a dream come true. It all started when I was 12 years old. I was watching TV after school one day and Jamie Oliver was cooking up a storm on The Naked Chef.