In part one of the Shrimp/Fish Taco series, the grocery list included avocados for the always popular guacamole. Guacamole has become a staple at our house, often starring as a spread on breakfast sandwiches or burritos, quesadillas, paninis or as a side with chips for Mexican Chicken Soup.
It has taken some trial and error on my part to get to the point where I am comfortable picking out avocados that will be ripe when I want to use them, either right away or in a few days. It wasn’t always pretty. I did learn that even if an avocado is a little more or less ripe than I thought, it still tastes pretty amazing! (See the link in part two of this series on how to pick an avocado.)
A lot of people seem to shy away from making their own guacamole for a couple reasons:
- the uncertainty of ripeness,
- the price, and
- how quickly it turns brown if you don’t eat it all.
Regarding choosing “ripe” avocados, my advice is to buy them a couple days ahead and buy them firm. Not hard, but firm. Allow them to ripen at room temperature until they start to “give” when a gentle pressure is applied. If they reach this point and you are not ready to use them, put them in the refrigerator to keep them from ripening further. If you do not think they will be ripe enough by time you want to use them, put them in a brown paper bag at room temperature which will expedite the ripening process.
As for the price, I think most of us would be willing to pay the price as long as we didn’t feel the avocados would be wasted due to over-ripening or the issue of the cut/mashed avocado turning brown.
There are three things that will help slow down the browning process. They will not eliminate it completely but the combination of these three things does help:
- the pit,
- lime juice, and
- eliminate exposure to air.
In each of the pictures above, the avocado pit is in the center. Exposure to the pit itself keeps the avocado from browning, a tip I received from a good friend who ran a catering company and served the most amazing guacamole at my son’s graduation party. So, if you only use half an avocado, use the half without the pit and refrigerate the half that still has the pit attached. If you use the whole avocado, place the pit in with the guacamole.
The acid in the lime juice also slows down the browning process. A good squeeze of lime as you mash and mix the avocado and even a little over the cut half of the avocado you are saving for another day will help a lot.
Finally, eliminate exposure to air when storing. The avocado half that you are putting back in the refrigerator should be wrapped carefully in plastic wrap, eliminating as much air space between the wrap and the cut portion of the avocado as possible. When you store the guacamole in an air-tight container, place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the guacamole and gently press it down as shown in the picture above. Put the lid on tight.
Now that’s a lot of talk for something that usually doesn’t make it to the leftover stage. But I thought I’d tell you just in case there is just enough of that beautiful green mixture left for tomorrow’s breakfast sandwich!
1 avocado, mashed, skin discarded and pit set aside
1-2 tablespoons finely diced onion
1-2 tablespoons finely diced green pepper
1 teaspoon finely diced jalapeno
1 garlic clove, minced
2-3 tablespoons diced tomatoes (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
Mix all ingredients together gently. Add more salt and/or pepper to taste.
Double or triple as you like. Mix and match ingredients and amounts to find your perfect combination.
There are tons of internet videos showing how to cut, peel and slice an avocado. If you like kitchen gadgets, I would highly recommend the one pictured above. Santa left this one for me in my stocking this past Christmas. That guy knows me pretty well!
Happy Christmas, Cinco de Mayo and every other day worthy of guacamole.
I think today is one of those days!
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