}]; Noreen's Kitchen: Pick Your Produce! How to Pick the Perfect Avocado!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Pick Your Produce! How to Pick the Perfect Avocado!

Today we begin a new intermittent series called "Pick Your Produce".  In this series we hope to help you understand how to best pick particular produce that may be baffling you or maybe you just never understood how to choose the best one of something or other.  Today we begin with avocados!

Avocados are often associated with Mexican food and are best known as the main ingredient in Guacamole.  It is the fruit, actually it is botanically a large berry, of the avocado tree which is native to Mexico.    The avocado tree has a long history of cultivation in central and south America and there is some evidence that this history may go back as far as 5000 B.C.!  There are many varieties of the avocado, including heritage varieties.  In America the most popular variety hails from California and is widely known by the "Haas" name.  Avocados are grown the world over in tropical and sub tropical climates.

Picking the perfect avocado is easy, if you know what you are looking for and just like with everything else, there is a learning curve.  This isn't rocket science, but there are a couple of tips and trick to help you on your way to getting the best avocado you can for your meal. 

First you have to decide if you are going to want to eat the fruit immediately or if you are going to wait a day or two.  This will determine the ripeness of the fruit you choose.  Pick avocados that are heavy for their size, they should fit in the palm of your hand.  If they are on the bright green side, this is an indication that it is not fully ripe and when you give it a gentle squeeze with your finger, and it feels heard and does not yield easily to that pressure, your avocado is not good for eating today, but it will be in a day or two. 

If you want to eat your avocado today, then look for fruits that are greenish black to black in color and again, hold in the palm of your hand and apply gentle pressure.  If the flesh yields and leave a bit of a dent then you are good to go.  If you hold the fruit and it feels mushy like a water balloon, then leave it, that one is not fit for anything but the compost. 

To ripen an avocado you can simply leave it on your counter and wait a couple of days or some people like to put them in a paper bag with either an apple or a banana and close it up and the next day they should be ready to eat.

When your avocado is ripe you can cut it around the middle and give it a gentle twist and it should separate from the pit easily.  If you are only going to eat half, eat the half without the pit.  Leave the pit in the other half and put it in a plastic bag or sealed container with a squeeze of lemon or lime juice.  Leaving the pit in the other half will help it to retain its freshness.  At least that is my personal experience.  Store any ripe avocados in the fridge till you are ready to use them.  Don't buy more than you can eat in a few days.

Avocados are a love it or hate it type of fruit.  In our house we have two who LOVE them one who HATES them and one who can take them or leave them.  I could personally eat avocados all day long.  The are often seen on the side of a sandwich, or in a salad or on some hearty toast for breakfast.  They are also known to be thrown into a smoothie every now and then to add rich creaminess without adding dairy.

Avocados are nutrient dense super food that everyone can benefit from enjoying.  They are the only food to naturally contain good monounsaturated fats.  That is good fat for you and I!   They are naturally cholesterol and sodium free! Nutrient dense avocados provide a substantial amount of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients with relatively few calories. One-fifth of a medium avocado has 50 calories and contributes nearly 20 vitamins and minerals, making it a great nutrient dense food choice.  Avocados act as a “nutrient booster” by helping  to increase absorption of fat-soluble nutrients like Vitamins A, D, K and E.  So in short avocados are awesome for your health!  Avocados are also an excellent "first food" for baby!  The smooth creamy texture is something that most little ones will enjoy and with all the nutritional benefits contained in that little green fruit, how can you go wrong! 

So I hope this is helpful information about how to pick the perfect avocado for you to enjoy today tomorrow or the day after!  I hope that you will use it well and enjoy avocados more often!  While they are available most of the year, the spring/summer season is the time they are most plentiful and at their peak of deliciousness.  So that is how you pick your produce in avocados! 

I hope you give this method a try and I hope you love it!

Happy Eating!

You can see my demonstration of how to choose a great avocado in my YouTube video here:

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