Archive for January 29th, 2009

It’s not a party without the quac

Almost every Super Bowl party has guacamole on the menu and with avocados on sale for $1 each, it’s a perfect time to serve this great appetizer.

After a few days of being cooped up in the house because of the snow and ice, you might want to slip on out to the grocery store today. It usually takes some planning because avocados are almost never ready to eat when you buy them.
Here are some tips from the California Avocado Commission on choosing the best avocados.

  • Ripe avocados should be soft, not squishy and you should be able to easily remove the little stem. Fully ripe avocados can be refrigerated for 2 to 3 days.
  • Avocados that haven’t fully ripened will lack great flavor.  So if you’ve got to make guacamoles in a hurry, keep avocados in a paper bag at room temperature in a dark place. And if you’ve only got a couple days, add an apple to the bag to speed up the ripening.

Here’s how to cut up an avocado
Cut vertically around the entire avocado, then twist the two halves apart. Whack the pit (but watch the fingers) with a heavy chef’s knife, then twist the pit out and discard. Use a butter knife to dice the avocado halves still in the peel, then scoop out the cubes.
What’s the best way to mash avocados?
Mash up avocados with a fork for chunky guacamole, or squash with a potato masher for a smoother dip.
What is in classic guacamole?
Classic guacamole is just avocados, lime juice, and salt. But you can add a lot of different things to jazz it up. Add garlic, chiles, seeded tomatoes, onions, cumin, and cilantro.

  • Roll your limes on the counter to get the most juice out. If you’re stuck with dry limes, try microwaving for about 10-15 seconds.
  • To minimize your chile heat, discard the seeds and ribs before dicing and adding; for extra heat, leave them in.
  • Soak chopped red onions in cold water for 10 minutes to beef up the crispness and lessen the bite.
  • Toast cumin in a skillet over medium-high heat till fragrant to boost its flavor.
  • Keep cilantro stems-down in a glass of water in the fridge; it’ll keep for about a week that way.

How to prevent browning
Nothing, not even an avocado pit, keeps guacamole green for too long once it’s made, so make your guacamole right before serving.  The acid in lemon and lime juice helps it stay green, as does a layer of plastic wrap placed directly on the surface.

How to keep a leftover half of an avocado fresh

Rub the cut edge of the unused half with lemon juice and keep the pit in. Then wrap it tightly and put it in the refrigerator. It should keep for 2 to 3 days.
Can I freeze avocados?
While freezing can affect the texture of the avocado, the California Avocado Board says you can store pureed avocado in the freezer for four to five months. Peel, seed and puree the avocado, adding a tablespoon of lemon juice for every two avocados.
How to select fresh avocados
The best way to tell if a California avocado is ready for immediate use is to gently squeeze the fruit in the palm of your hand. Ripe, ready-to-eat fruit will be firm yet will yield to gentle pressure.
Color alone may not tell the whole story. The Hass avocado will turn dark green or black as it ripens, but other varieties retain their light-green skin even when ripe.
If you plan to serve the fruit in a few days, stock up on hard, unripened fruit.
Avoid fruit with dark blemishes on the skin or over soft fruit.
Ripening an avocado
To ripen an  avocado, place the fruit in a plain brown paper bag and store at room temperature 65-75 degrees until ready to eat (usually two to five days).
Including an apple or banana in the bag accelerates the process because these fruits give off ethylene gas, a ripening agent.
Soft ripe fruit can be refrigerated until it is eaten, but not for more than two or three days.
The California Avocado Commission does not recommend using a microwave to accelerate the ripening process.