Tag Archives: keep avocados green

Tips on How to Ripen that Rock-Hard Avocado

ripe-avocado

Can’t find a ripe avocado and you need one (or more) to make guacamole tomorrow?

You invited friends over tomorrow night for a viewing party of the finale of your favorite TV show and you want to make your famous guacamole.  You head to your local market for avocados and every single avocado they have is rock-hard!  What do you do besides scream at the produce manager or drive all over town hoping to find ripe avocados?  Here is my tip on how to solve your problem and have perfectly ripe avocados in time with no screaming.

First, you need to understand a little bit about avocados and how to pick them at the store.  Avocados don’t ripen or soften on the tree – this happens after harvest so depending on how those avocados were shipped and stored they might be ripening just in time or still be hard like baseballs.

A perfectly ripe avocado will be firm when held in the palm of your hand but will yield to gentle pressure.  Don’t be fooled by the skin color as different varieties are different colors – some are black and some will never get any darker than light green.  But, do avoid those with dark blemishes on the skin or have areas that are much softer than the rest of the fruit.  These ‘spots’ are likely bruises – pick a different avocado.

Avocados (and some other fruit) produce ethylene gas.  This gas causes the fruit to ripen and is normally released slowly.  But, what if you could only find unripe avocados in the store and you need that avocado to go from a rock-hard fruit that could hurt someone if thrown at them to a perfectly ripe item that will be transformed into your guacamole for your friends?  And you need that to happen in a day.

Here’s my tried and true tip that never fails:

You only need a brown paper bag, either bananas, kiwi or apples (these release ethylene gas at a much faster rate than avocados), hard avocados and about 24 hours.  Place the hard avocados into the brown paper bag, add at least one banana or kiwi or apple (the more fruit-the more gas is released-the faster the ripening), fold over the top of the bag and leave on your counter top for at least a day.  If you choose to add apples to the bag find either red or golden delicious varieties – these have not been bred to ripen slower (like a Gala apple) and will release more ethylene gas than some other types of apples.

I don’t recommend using the oven or the microwave to ‘ripen’ avocados.  These methods may indeed soften them but they don’t really ripen so they won’t have the same creamy, buttery texture and nutty flavor that a ripe avocado does.

My last tip: only put already ripe avocados into your refrigerator.  So, if you can only find fully ripe avocados at your market (lucky you!) and you don’t need them for a day or two then definitely refrigerate.  Now that you know how to ripen that avocado – have a party and make some guacamole for me!

We love our Avocados GREEN

You love green avocados

An easy to remember trick to keep your cut avocados from turning that unappetizing brown.

If you have been following me for a while, you know that I collect little stories about this and that. I think that’s one of the skills that a home entertaining expert should have: being able to dole out a quick story for any moment or situation. It’s better than trying to crack the ice at a party with talk about the weather. Right?

Here are a few tidbits about avocados.

If you haven’t heard, the avocado is actually a fruit. Botanically, they belong to the same plant group as do laurels. So, basically, we eat what amounts to an enormous berry that has a single large seed.

Originally, avocados were thought to have come from Mexico. A while back, a friend of mine who is an anthropologist (yeah, I have one of those too), told me that there was some new evidence that suggests that avocados started off as several distinct varieties that came from Peru, the Guatemalan highlands, and along the Central American isthmus. They’ve even found the remains of an avocado plant that they think is 15,000 years old!  It’s crazy that avocados have been around for that long.

Now for the practical part.

I love avocados. They’ve always been one of the staples in my home – ready to slice and eat at a moment’s notice. They’re a great “go-to” easy snack for friends who drop by and perfect for salads, sliced with veggies, or as guacamole (more on that later).  Don’t forget the ever popular avocado toast that you find in almost every restaurant and that is so incredibly easy to duplicate at home!

The downside for avocados – they have an enzyme called polyphenol oxidase that causes our tasty fruit to start browning almost immediately after cutting. This is really inconvenient when you want to save half in the fridge for tomorrow’s snack. I mean, who wants to spread brown avocado on toast? Seriously.

Everyone has their own little trick to keep their avocados from turning brown. Twenty years in the restaurant business – I’ve heard them all, seen them all and tried them all!

One of the most popular tricks is my least favorite: drip lime or lemon juice on the cut parts, which is the same trick we use on cut apples. It works but, in my honest opinion, not very well. They still turn brown after about 4 hours and then the avocado has an extra flavor that you might not want.

Then there’s the one about keeping the pit attached. I don’t know why, but it seems to work for about 4 hours or so, and then the oxidization starts. The big downside is that the pit has to be attached to the uncut half. You can’t add the pit back to an avocado that’s been sliced.

The fact is, many of us will eat an avocado that’s been stored in the fridge and has browned a bit, but not for company consumption.  So, a near miss just doesn’t cut it for me. If it’s going to work, it has to work really well.

The best method – tested in my own kitchen – place the cut half of an onion into an airtight container with your cut avocado. The onion releases sulfur dioxide which is a natural preservative – which puts a full stop on the browning. The great plus for this method is that it’ll keep cut avocados nice and fresh (cubed, sliced, peeled) for about 24 hours! And now you have a little onion to add to that toast.

See my video on this method. And enjoy your avocado!