The other day when I was at the grocery store, I had a mini conversation with a lady about buying avocados. The poor woman had no idea how to pick one, and even worse she thought she should store the rock hard avocado in the refrigerator to get it to ripen. In an attempt to avoid avocado troubles, I gave her a quick lesson about the fruit. As I was walking away, I realized that we have access to so many different kinds of fruits and vegetables these days that sometimes it’s hard to know how to pick each one. So, with that being said, let’s talk about avocados.
First, you need to know some funny trivia. In Spanish, the word for avocado is aguacate. This word originates from the Náhuatl (language of the Aztecs) word ahuácatl, which means testicle. It is thought that this meaning might reference the avocado’s shape. Haha…I hope that doesn’t turn you away!
The most common variety of avocado that you will see is the Hass avocado. They are usually a dark green/black color and have bumpy “alligator” skin. Hass avocados are typically grown along the Pacific coast from California to Chile. In Mexico, the city of Uruapan, located in the state of Michoacán, is considered the avocado capital of the world. I like to check the sticker on the avocado to see where it is from. I know I’m biased, but I think the avocados from Uruapan taste especially buttery and delicious. However, 90% of the avocados sold in the U.S. are grown in California. With this in mind, generally, the best time to eat them is from the beginning of spring to the end of summer.
Hass avocados do not ripen on the tree, but rather mature once they are picked. If you are looking for an avocado that’s already perfectly ripened, you need to test for softness. Gently squeeze the avocado being careful not to bruise it. If the fruit gives in slightly to the pressure of your touch, then the avocado is ready to eat. If it is too hard, then the avocado will need to ripen for a few days. You can place an unripe avocado on your countertop to ripen, or you can speed the process by putting it in a brown paper bag and leaving it at room temperature. Once an avocado has ripened, you can place it in the refrigerator to slow down the process.
You can also check to make sure that an avocado is not overripe. In order to avoid a spoiled avocado that is slimy and brown inside, carefully take off the nubby stem at the top of the avocado. If a small yellow-green circle is peering up at you, then the fruit is an ideal buy. But, if a little patch of brown color is revealed, then the avocado is already rotting inside.
Once the avocado is ready to eat, run a sharp knife around its perimeter. Then, twist the two halves of the avocado in opposite directions to pull it apart. Give your knife a whack into the large seed. The knife should dig in slightly. Give the knife a turn to pull out the seed and then discard it. Finally, use a large spoon to scoop the avocado from its skin. You can cut it up however you would like. However, once you have opened an avocado, it is a good idea to sprinkle some lime juice on it to keep it from turning brown.
Hopefully, the next time you are confronted with a mountain of dark green avocados at the store, this will help you pick the best one. Hey, maybe you can even pass along some avocado knowledge to the next person.