Wednesday, March 18, 2009

All About Avacados

The first tips I have here are from eHow.com . . . Then I've also added some other info I've found elsewhere that I've personally found helpful. All of these are concerning Avocados.

How to Tell if an Avocado is Ripe
Is it Ripe?

Step1
Press gently on your forehead. This is an example of how an avocado should not feel when you press on it. This means the avocado is too firm and not ripe.

Step2
Press gently on your cheek. If your avocado feels this way, do not purchase it. Your avocado is too ripe and possibly rotten.

Step3
Press gently on your nose. This is how your ideal avocado should feel to your fingertips. Look for avocados with a little bit of give, but not too mushy.

Step4
Pull off the small stem attached to the avocado. If the underside of the stem is brown, do not purchase the avocado. There will be brown spots inside.

Step5
Look for an avocado that has the softness and firmness of your nose and has a nice, green spot on the underside of the stem. You have found the perfect avocado. Take it home, cut it open and enjoy.

Julie Note: In doing some searching about Avocados online, I've found over and over again that people say the you can't go by color, only touch to know if an Avocado is ripe. However, I know I read somewhere recently that while the color itself is no determinate, the evenness of the color is. That's how I choose my avocados now. whether green, reddish or black, all I look for in the color department is overall evenness. I've noticed that there are often ones that are green on one side and brownish or black on the other. I believe these are the ones you want to avoid.

How to Ripen and Store Avocados

Step
1
Allow hard avocados three to five days to ripen at room temperature. A ripe avocado is soft to the touch.

Step2
Store avocados in a paper bag. Put an apple in the bag to ripen them more quickly.

Julie Note: I've also read somewhere that putting the avocado in a brown bag and immersing it with flour works really well. I just can't seem to find where I read that now.

Step3
Store ripe avocados in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Julie Note: But don't store unripe avocados in the fridge. As one source has said: They won't ripen in the refrigerator and will turn brown, to boot.

Step4
To remove the seed from an avocado, cut in half lengthwise (going around the pit), and separate the avocado into two halves.

Inserted tip from Gardenguides.com: To cut an avocado, hold it in your hand and slice through the skin and the flesh to the pit all the way around, lengthwise. Twist each half in opposite directions to separate them.

(Back to eHow.)

If the avocado is ripe, this should be easy. Lightly knock your knife into the pit, so that it sticks there. Give the knife a small turn to the right or left and lift up to remove the pit.


(Julie Note: I've tried thess methods; turning the halves to separate and also with the knife in the pit and everything, and they worked really well for me. Better than a spoon removal I think.)

Step5
Scoop the flesh out of the shell or remove the peel (it should come off easily if the avocado is ripe) and slice.

Julie Note: Another method I just found on Gardenguides.com suggests slicing the avocado before removing it from the skin. This is how I personally do it. I think it's much easier, and less messy this way.

Here are their instructions on how to do that.

The next step depends on your use of the avocado. For slices or mashing, hold one half in your hand skin side down and slice through the meat to, but not through the skin. If you're going to use it in slices stop now. If you're going to mash it, turn the avocado and do the same thing cross-wise. Now just use a spoon to scoop out your sliced or diced avocado.

Julie Note: Or you can try what I do and turn the sliced half over and push on the back, it should turn the skin inside out and eject the slices. Just be sure you do this over a bowl.

Also, here is another tip from Gardenguides.com:

You can plant the seed and grow your own tree as a houseplant, but you'll need patience--avocados take five to thirteen years to bear fruit. It's a fun experiment, though, and they make an attractive houseplant.

Julie Note: I actually tried planting an avocado pit in my backyard a little while ago, but I don't think it worked. I probably should have put it in a pot and kept it indoors. I was just too lazy to find a pot.

The only reason I even attempted this however, is because a few years ago I was visiting at my sister-in-law's home and I noticed that she had a lovely plant by her back door which I did not recognize. I asked her what it was and she told me she had planted an avocado pit in the pot a while before just to see what would happen. So I know for myself that they do make lovely house plants. I'll probably try again one of these days, and plant it in an indoor pot this time. I didn't think about that it might not survive the freezing cold winter when I planted that one before.

And lastly, here is a bit more info from Gardenguides.com, and a Guacamole recipe:

Like apples, avocados will brown when exposed to air. And, also like apples, a little lemon juice sprinkled on cut pieces will help prevent that.

By themselves, the flavor is mild and almost buttery. A touch of salt does wonders, though, heightening the flavor and bringing out the depth. A touch of acid adds even more.

That's why guacamole is so irresistible. The salt and the lemon juice combine with the avocado and a hint of onion to produce a heavenly treat. You can add other ingredients such as tomatoes and cilantro, but I prefer this simple recipe that lets flavor of the avocado shine.

Guacamole

2 avocados
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon minced onion

Peel, pit and mash the avocados with a fork. Stir in the lemon juice, the salt and the onion, then let the flavors blend for half an hour before serving. Guacamole is terrific with corn tortilla chips, of course, but is equally good on a hamburger or other sandwich.

If you've only eaten avocados in guacamole, try them in salads, too, where they'll add richness and flavor. Consider them on sandwiches to add fiber, nutrients and flavor instead of plain old mayonnaise.

Avocados and tomatoes are a perfect match--the acid in the tomatoes perks up the flavor of the avocados. Try tossing them together as a simple salad, or adding some hunks of avocado to your next salsa.

Smoked fish and avocado are double treat together. Top slices of avocado with some smoked salmon or trout and a little green onion for an appetizer that will make you want to skip dinner.

Avocados are called "poor man's butter" in the tropics because of their texture and plentifulness there. The way I see it, one bite will make any man--or woman--feel rich.



Sources:
http://www.ehow.com/how_1621_ripen-store-avocados.html
http://www.gardenguides.com/how-to/tipstechniques/vegetables/avocadosla.asp