Avocados are the ultimate darlings of the produce section. While they’re our personal favourite ingredient for dips, they’re turning up in everything from salads to sandwiches. Many people still equate them with their high fat content, but that’s not giving this super fruit a fair chance – most of the fats in avocados are monounsaturated, which means they’re easy to digest and good for the heart. Even better, they also contain a significant amount of potassium (60% more than bananas, ounce by ounce) and vitamin E. Read on to find out how to buy, store and use avocados, then scroll to the bottom for a few awesome recipes.
HOW TO BUY
The best avocados will feel slightly heavy in the hand. A ripe one will give a little when gently pressed.
Tip: If the avocado still has its small stem attached at the top, pop it off. If the skin is green underneath, it’s ripe. If the stem doesn’t come off easily or the avocado is brown underneath the stem, choose another—this one isn’t ripe.
HOW TO STORE
If it’s ripe, store it in fridge. If it’s unripe, store it at room temperature.
Tip: Speed up the ripening process by placing avocado in a brown paper bag. Add an apple or banana and it’ll ripen even quicker!
HOW TO PEEL IN 3 STEPS
1. Use a sharp knife to carefully cut the avocado lengthwise around the pit. Then, rotate the halves to separate. They should easily pull apart.
2. Remove the pit by sliding the tip of a spoon gently underneath and lift it out. Or, strike the pit with a knife, then rotate it to twist and pull it out. But be careful – this method requires some skill, caution and practice.
3. Place the halves cut-side down to peel off the skin with either a knife or your fingers, starting at the small end. Or, hold the avocado flesh-side up in the palm of your hand and gently scoop out the meat with a spoon.
HALF FOR LATER
If a recipe calls for only half an avocado, wrap the half containing the pit with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Don’t worry if the meat discolours slightly. When you need it, you can gently scrape the first (oxidized) layer off without losing too much meat.
Tip: Sprinkle all cut surfaces with lemon juice, lime juice, or white vinegar to prevent oxidation.
• Add avocado to salads as a substitute for creamy dressings.
• Stuff with crab or shrimp and make it a meal.
• Substitute mashed avocado for mayonnaise.
• Use as a garnish in soups, on chili or in fruit salad.
IF YOU SEE IT, GET IT
Avocado Oil: This rich, vibrant green oil is pressed from the meat of the avocado, not the seed. It’s great for salad dressings, marinades or as a dipping oil for bread. It also has a high smoke point, making it perfect for a stir-fry. Bonus: High in monounsaturated fats and vitamin E.
Avocado Leaves: Found in Latin food markets, these can be used to cook fish or chicken “en papillote”—wrapped in the leaves and baked or steamed.
Cocktail Avocados: Pitless “baby” avocados can be eaten with a teaspoon!
AWESOME AVOCADO RECIPES
• Avocado Egg Salad Sandwich