The pear-shaped avocado grows on trees and is harvested unripe, just like bananas. From October until March they come from the Mediterranean but the rest of the year they’ll have travelled from other parts of the globe.
The gorgeously fatty and nutritious avocado goes perfectly with all kinds of citrus fruit and mango, even with a bit of sting from tabasco or fresh chili. Bacon, smoked fish, vinegar and red onion go very well with avocado too.
Buy unripe avocados: A tip from the professionals – who have to deal with this fruit/vegetable in vast quantities in the kitchen – is to buy it at an early stage of the ripening process (if you don’t happen to be in a country where they ripen on the tree). Wrap in newspaper if you want a more even, more reliable process. Then you can enjoy them as they reach their peak.
The avocado trick is said to be good if you’ve got to buy an avocado at the last minute: If the knob at the end of the stem comes off easily, the avocado will be ripe. Professional Secrets promises to get back to you with a statement about this method once we’ve fully investigated it.
Frozen avocado works relatively well, partly due to its high fat content. Frozen avocado dip, guacamole (the genuine article that in principle contains nothing but avocado – read the label carefully) can be an acceptable alternative.
If you’ve bought an unripe avocado, put it next to tomatoes or apples at room temperature so that it will be exposed to ethylene gas and ripen more quickly.
After harvesting it’s just a question of time before vegetables have used up their limited supply of water and nutrients. What you’re aiming towards when storing is to slow down the living processes and limiting the vegetable’s desire to grow. But your avocado has to ripen first.
Slow down in the fridge: Avocados that have been out and ripened quickly become over-ripe and bad. One way of slowing the process down is to put them in the fridge. That gives you a couple more days.
The most common way of checking whether an avocado is ripe is to gently press the stalk end. When it’s soft, it’s time to open the avocado, and easy to remove the peel and the stone.
Slicing avocado: Halve the fruit lengthwise. Squeeze out the stone and cut off the peel at the ends. Now it’s easy to pull off the peel and cut the avocado into slices, wedges or dice.
As soon as you have opened the avocado, the flesh will start to oxidize and go brown. Drip a little lemon juice on it and it will keep better. If you’re making a dip like guacamole, leave the stone in the dip until serving and it will slow down the oxidation process.
How to cook avocado
A perfectly ripe avocado is excellent to eat as it is with a few drops of lemon/lime, a good olive oil and a little sea salt. But it also goes well in salads or soups, as guacamole, in a rich dressing – or grilled.
Marinate avocado: Peel the avocado and cut it into wedges. Mix lime juice, olive oil, chili and salt and place the wedges in the marinade. Leave them for a moment and serve with fresh coriander as a starter or side dish.
Make a classic prawn salad but dice the compulsory half avocado and mix with mango, chili and fresh basil, for example.
Serve avocado soup: Warmed avocado is a mild and creamy addition to a soup or pasta sauce. Crème fraîche, garlic and chili add an extra flavor boost.
Grilled avocado takes on a delicious, smoky flavor. Halve the avocado and place it on the grill, cut side down. Serve immediately.
Avocado dips, such as guacamole, add flavor and a great texture to everything from snacks with drinks and salads to wraps and tacos.
The best avocado dressing: Take 1/2 an avocado, 500 ml olive oil, 500 ml 2 water, 2 tbsp white wine vinegar, a squeeze of lemon, 1 clove of garlic, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, black pepper and salt. Run through a food processor and serve with a good green salad.
The biggest threat to the avocado is oxidation. Cut it up last and squeeze some lemon or lime over the top.
Scoop out the avocado with a spoon for a more attractive presentation.
If you’re making an avocado dip, leave the stone in the dip until it’s time to eat it.
Guacamole isn’t always that attractive. Put it in a beautiful bowl, decorate with tortilla chips and/or fresh herbs, such as coriander.
Guacamole, the Mexican avocado dip with tomato, onion, garlic, lime, chili and fresh coriander. Don’t be stingy on the salty or sour flavors.