I’ll be back next week with an actual recipe but for now, here’s everything you need to know about avocados! I have a ton of avocado recipes coming up and thought I’d post this avocado guide first.
I think it’s safe to say that the world is still very much obsessed with avocados. And why wouldn’t we be?
They’re completely versatile in their preparation: enjoyable both in savory and sweet dishes, both raw or cooked; they’re creamy and rich, slightly buttery and nutty in taste, yet so amazingly healthy for you.
It’s no wonder we haven’t been able to put down this wonderful green fruit after taking our first bite of it! They’re just about the perfect food, but picking the perfect avocado can oftentimes be a little tricky.
Luckily, I’m here to give you the ultimate avocado guide that’ll answer every question you’ve ever had about avocados from just how healthy they are, to how to pick avocados, and all the ways to prep them.
Avocados have been deemed a superfood with a variety of health benefits, and rightfully so. They’re packed with many essential nutrients, are naturally cholesterol-free, sugar-free, gluten-free, low in sodium, and high in fiber.
The average medium avocado is about 150 grams with 240 calories, 22 grams of fat, 11 milligrams of sodium, 13 grams of total carbohydrates, 3 grams of protein, and 10 grams of fiber.
They’re also a good source of 20 necessary vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin E, folate, and potassium. Vitamin C is great for promoting a healthy immune system, vitamin K is necessary for healthy bones, vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps repair cells, folate helps with the production of new cells and is needed for a healthy pregnancy, and potassium is great for lowering blood pressure.
With all the avocado’s many vitamins and minerals, they’re also great for healthy skin, hair, and nails; lowering the risk of depression; fighting cancer; and with the amount of fiber they have, they’re great for improving digestion.
Now, you might be thinking, “22 grams of fat?! How can that possibly be healthy?!” And I agree, avocados are high in fat, but it’s all healthy fat.
The majority of the fat in an avocado is unsaturated fat which help increase HDL (good cholesterol) and lower LDL (bad cholesterol), making them great for lowering your overall cholesterol levels and a heart-healthy choice in the battle against heart disease.
The fat in avocados also helps to improve insulin sensitivity, and that combined with the fiber, which helps lower your blood sugar, makes them a healthy decision for diabetics. They’re also great for weight loss as this fat, along with the tremendous amount of fiber avocados have, helps you feel more satisfied and fuller longer so that you don’t feel the need to eat unhealthy foods after your meal.
So adding avocados to your diet not only a delicious choice but a healthy one!
How to Pick Avocados
When looking at avocados, you’ll see that the colors range from a bright green to black. Too green and the avocado is probably unripe and too dark means the avocado is overripe.
You’ll want to pick an avocado thats color matches when and how you intend to use it. If you don’t have plans to use the avocado right away, you’ll want to pick a more green one that’ll ripen and be ready when you are. If you intend to use the avocado immediately, you’re going to want to buy one that’s darker.
The darker it is the more ripe and soft it’ll be, and these would be perfect for mashing for things like guacamole. If you’re looking to slice an avocado, look for one that’s still dark but slightly more green as these are more firm and will hold up better.
You’re also going to want to keep an eye out for any blemishes and dark spots on the skin and avoid those.
Another great trick to figuring out the ripeness of an avocado is to flick off its stem. Doing so will allow you to get a peek at the inside of the avocado.
If you can see that the flesh on the inside is a nice green color, the avocado is ready to eat. If it’s brown on the inside, that means that the avocado is probably overripe and should be avoided. And if you can’t even remove the stem, that means that the avocado is probably unripe.
However, the best way to tell the ripeness of an avocado is to just feel it. Hold the avocado in the palm of your hand, don’t use your fingertips as you may bruise it, and squeeze it.
For a ripe avocado, it’ll feel firm and yield to gentle pressure. An unripe avocado will be hard to the touch, and if the avocado is too soft and squishy and yields to too much pressure, it is overripe.
Now, let’s say you bought an avocado that was more on the green side, thinking that you were going to use it in a couple of days, but you need it sooner than expected. It’s alright, you can speed up the ripening process by placing it in a paper bag, with an apple or banana or some flour, and the avocado should ripen quicker than if just left out on the counter. It’ll still take about 2 days.
Now, what if you bought an avocado with every intention to use it right away, but somehow your avocado plans were thwarted? Don’t worry, you won’t have to let that avocado go to waste.
Just stick it in your fridge and it should slow down the ripening process. This won’t halt the process completely, but it should give you a couple of days to use up your avocado.
How to Cut Avocados:
To cut an avocado, all you’ll need is your cutting board, a knife, a spoon, and of course, your avocado. Start by placing the avocado on the cutting board and hold it down with a flat hand on top. Take your knife and cut it in half lengthwise, then hold the knife in place and rotate the avocado around the knife to slice the other half, cutting all the way around the seed.
If comfortable, you can always do this step in the palm of your hand. Just remember, no matter what method you use, always rotate the avocado, NOT the knife.
After halving your avocado, take each half of the avocado in each hand and twist gently to separate. From here, there are several methods to remove the pit of the avocado.
The first method, and the most popular, is to take your knife and hold it a couple of inches above the pit and then strike down hard on it with the heel of your knife. Then twist the knife and pull the pit straight out. You may hold the avocado with a dishtowel while doing this for an extra layer of protection and to make sure the avocado does not slip.
The second method is probably the easiest. Just take a spoon and scoop the pit out.
The third method is to quarter the avocado. After halving it, halve it once more to cut each half into quarters. Once in quarters, you can easily remove the pit with your fingers. This method also allows you to cleanly peel the skin off the avocado, meaning you won’t have to leave behind any of the flesh while scooping it out.
Once your avocado’s pit is removed, you can remove the flesh by simply scooping it out with a spoon. From here, you can either mash it up or place it flat side down on your cutting board and cut it into slices.
If you prefer your avocado to be diced, leave the avocado in its skin and take your knife and score a grid-board pattern over the flesh, being careful not to puncture through the skin. Then scoop out the flesh with a spoon to reveal perfectly diced chunks of avocado.
How to Store Avocados:
With a serving of avocado only being a third of it, you may not use all of it at once. But once you cut it, the avocado will begin to oxidize and turn brown. There are several methods that are recommended to store open avocados and I’ve put them to the test.
I would say that none of them really help if you want to store them for more than about 24 hours. I never bothered with any of these methods prior to doing this experiment and I’m happy to know I haven’t been wasting my time all these years. ;)
One method that I’ve seen that didn’t work at all for me was putting cut avocado into a bowl of water. That works for just hours and then takes on a terrible texture.
Sprinkling your avocado with lemon juice or lime juice is also recommended but you can see by the above photo that there’s not much difference between the control avocado and the lemon one. It also imparts a citrusy flavor.
Brushing on olive oil definitely works better than lemon juice but there wasn’t a difference between the olive oil and pit in avocado.
The easiest and best way to store them (in my opinion), is with the pit in and in an airtight container.
Just remember though, no matter what you do, the avocado will turn brown; it’s just the natural progression of things. Brown avocados may look unappetizing, but they still may be good to eat.
If the brown bothers you, just scoop it off and eat what’s still green. If it smells or tastes rancid, that’s when it has for sure gone bad, so use your best judgment and don’t let a couple of brown spots prevent you from enjoying a good avocado.
How to Freeze Avocados:
So sometimes you see avocados at a good price and you feel compelled to buy them all. I know the feeling.
What’s not so cool is that you’ll have a bunch of avocados ripening at the same time. Unless you stagger their ripening by refrigerating them.One other solution is to freeze them. Frozen avocados don’t have the same texture as fresh so I recommend using frozen avocados for guacamole and smoothies.
For guacamole, you can put avocado quarters in a Ziploc bag, mash them and then freeze.
For smoothies, cut up the avocado, put the pieces on a tray and freeze. Place in a bag and you have ready to go avocado pieces for your smoothies (like this Chocolate Avocado Smoothie)!
How to Use Avocados:
What I love most about avocados is just how versatile they are. They’re great in many savory dishes, like this Avocado Mac and Cheese, raw in a salad or a sandwich or cooked.
You can just about add it to any recipe, and it’ll give a nice flavor and health boost to whatever you’re making. Let me know how you use up your avocados because I’d love to hear how you prepare them!