Everyone loves avocados -- or ‘avos’ as we like to call them. We eat on average around 3kg each per year, smashing them on toast, adding to salads and letting them star in guacamole.
Avocados are not only delicious, they’re healthy, too.
“They’re a plant food so they’re incredibly nutritious,” accredited practising dietitian Caroline Trickey told The Huffington Post Australia.
“Avocados are full of healthy monounsaturated fats and helps us absorb other nutrients -- a good example of this is when you combine avocado in a salad,” Trickey said.
Apart from being a healthy fat food, avocados are also a great source of fibre, vitamin C and vitamin E.
Although we eat avocados in abundance, many of us still struggle with how to tell when an avocado is ripe, how to store them and how to make them ripen more quickly.
Well, struggle no more.
How to tell if they’re ripe
Avocados are unique in that they don’t ripen on the tree, but after they are picked -- which can make it even more difficult to tell when they’re ripe or not.
“It’s best to work off feel and you’ll be safe for any variety of avocado,” Jim Kochi, an avocado grower in Atherton, north Queensland, told HuffPost Australia.
“A lot of people try to push right at the stem and you end up squeezing it too hard and bruise it -- and then everyone else does the same thing,” Kochi said.
Instead of pressing the top of the avocado with your thumb, Kochi recommends using three or four fingers as a guide.
“Wrap your fingers around the fruit and give it a gentle squeeze. You want to feel that it’s not hard any more -- you can feel it give a bit,” Kochi said.
“As soon as they start to soften, that's when you know they’re ready -- that’s what we call firm ripe.”
The feeling when you open a perfectly ripe avocado.
And the trick of seeing whether the stem at the top of the avocado easily comes out -- does it work?
“No -- they will ripen and soften first near the stem, especially avocados with a long neck, but they may not be ripe further down the fruit,” Kochi said.
The colour of an avocado may also help you know when an avocado is ready to eat, but not for all varieties.
“Green skin avocados -- that’s a Shepard, Reed and a Wurtz -- have a green skin when they are ripe and when they’re not ripe,” Kochi said. “But it will start to soften a bit and that’s when you know it is firm ripe.”
Some Hass varieties, depending on the growing location, will go a chocolate colour before they turn purple-back.
“They’ll start to soften at the chocolate colour,” Kochi said. “If you wait for a Hass to go completely black, it’s overripe.”
How to ripen them quickly
“Put them in a bag with ripe bananas, tomatoes or apples,” Kochi told HuffPost Australia.
This is because most ripe fruits give off a gas called ethylene, which acts to stimulate the ripening process.
“So if you put the avocado in a paper bag on your kitchen bench with a ripe banana or some ripe tomatoes, they will release a bit of ethylene and the avocado will ripen a bit quicker,” Kochi said.
This process still takes two or three days, so if you have avo smash on your mind, it’s probably best to buy one that’s ready to eat.
How to store avocados
There’s nothing worse than putting an avo in the fridge and taking it out a day later covered in brown spots. Or even worse -- making fresh guacamole to find it looking very sad an hour later.
Good news: there’s a way to keep avos looking fresh as a daisy.
“What I do is take the avocado seed out, squeeze on some lemon juice, lime juice or plain vinegar, slap it down on a sheet of Glad Wrap, fold the Glad Wrap over the top of it and stick it in refrigerator,” Kochi said.
The acidity prevents browning, while the plastic wrap helps slow down oxidation on the avocado flesh.
“You want the Glad Wrap flat on the avocado surface to keep all the oxygen out away from the fruit,” Kochi said.
If you think leaving in the pip is the key to keeping an avocado fresh, you have been duped.
“No, I just take it out -- if you leave the pip in it’s very hard to get cover the whole surface area with the Glad Wrap,” Kochi said.
Bought an avocado that has gone ripe before you want to eat it? Problem solved.
“If an avocado is ripe, leave it on your bench until it starts to get to the stage of ripeness you want, then put it in the refrigerator -- and it will stay like that for a week,” Kochi said.
“You just put it to sleep in the refrigerator.”
“The hardest part for people with avocados is getting to learn how to pick a ripe one, but it’s like riding a bike -- once you get that it’s a skill you have for life (and at every barbecue you should pass the knowledge along to all your friends).”
If you’re worried about the fat content in avocados (or about how many you go through in a week), be assured in knowing Kochi goes through an avocado a day, at the least.
“Oh yeah, easy,” Kochi said. “Every day we have avocado on the table -- mainly eaten with salads or sliced over grilled steak or seafood if I’m doing a barbecue.”
“You can use avocado to replace your usual saturated fat. Wherever you use fat -- so if you’re making a smoothie and use ice cream -- you just avocado to replace the ice cream.”
“I call avocados 'green butter' or 'green margarine' -- it’s so much healthier than saturated fats," Trickey said.
“One of the things about avocados is that everyone is so scared of the high fat content,” Trickey said. “Your body is going to utilise the fats and nutrients in an avocado much more readily than it’s going to utilise fat in a processed food.”
“Foods that are high in fat are actually very satisfying and filling.”
There you go. Avocados are officially the best thing ever.