Considering how often I post avocados on Instagram and get questions about picking out good ones, I feel like this post is a little overdue. But hey, better late than never.
Would you believe me if I told you I never ate avocados until about two years ago? Now Ethan says I put avocado on “everything”, which isn’t totally inaccurate…
When I first published a guacamole recipe on my blog, I shared a little story about my total avocado-picking fail that happened when I tried to make it. Since I rarely (read: never) ate avocados back then — except in guacamole form occasionally — I had no idea how to tell if they were ripe or not. I just mindlessly grabbed four avocados, only to discover that they were all completely brown inside when I got home. I was super annoyed and had to take a trip back to the store and have an employee from the produce section help me pick some new ones. I felt like a complete failure as a dietitian.
I would absolutely hate for this unfortunate scenario to happen to any of you, so today I’m sharing all my advice on picking the perfect avocado, as well as storage tips, AND lastly, some of my favorite ways to use avocados in meals!
How to Know If It Is Ripe or Not
Good news: this is actually super easy once you know what you’re looking for. When you are picking out an avocado, you want it to be firm, but still be able to press your thumb into it and make a slight indentation. This is your indicator that it is ripe and ready to be eaten.
If it is hard as a rock, it won’t be ready to eat for several days. On the other hand, if it is super squishy, it is too far gone and will most likely be brown inside. You want to search for that happy medium!
HOWEVER, it also depends on when you are wanting to eat the avocado. Sometimes I pick out avocados that are on the harder side when I know I won’t be using them in a recipe for a few more days. Otherwise, if I want to eat it in the next 1-2 days, I go for the ones that are firm, but that will still get that small dent when I press in with my thumb.
The color of the avocado on the outside can be a quick indicator as well. If it’s bright green, you can expect it to be super hard. The darker it gets, the softer it gets. For read-to-eat avocados, look for a purple-black color. If it’s really dark brown/black, it’s too far gone. You will want to check both color & firmness to ensure you are getting the ripeness you desire that day. Color can sometimes be deceiving.
Size of the Pit
In my personal experience and from what I have heard from others, the size of the pit (the round, brown thing in the middle) varies pretty significantly and depends on the shape of the avocado.
Avocados that are more round typically tend to have a large, round pit. Avocados that are oval-shaped typically have longer and skinnier pits. See the pictures below for a comparison.
Why does this matter? It doesn’t make an enormous difference (in most cases), but it is ideal to get one with a smaller pit so you don’t get ripped off with very little actual avocado goodness once the pit is removed! In most cases, you will get roughly the same amount of avocado flesh in avocados of the same-ish size, but I have definitely had some extremely small (as seen above) and extremely large pits. You just never know when that is going to happen!
How to Cut an Avocado
I think it is much easier to see this done than to explain it in words, so I’m attaching a quick video clip for you to watch if you are unfamiliar with how to do this, or don’t feel confident doing it. I know I didn’t at first! Click here to watch this video (only 0:46 long) by Kraft Recipes.
I also have one of these 3-in-1 avocado tools and absolutely love it. It makes removing the pit so much easier and less frightening (sometimes I thought I was going to cut my finger off using a large knife to do it), and you can also cut it open & slice it using this tool! This is a great item to have if your kids like to help out in the kitchen. It’s a much safer way for them to remove the pit. Click here to check it out. It is only $9.99!
Avocado Storage Tips
Avocados that are still pretty hard can be stored at room temperature. I usually keep mine in my fruit basket until they are ripe. (Click here for my pretty, copper fruit basket!)
Once they are ripe, you either want to use them (duh) or stick them in the fridge! Refrigerating them seems to help them stay at the perfect ripeness for a couple of extra days, which is nice if you’re not ready to use them yet. Otherwise, it may ripen and spoil too quickly at room temperature.
Now, there is a lot of debate about how to keep an avocado fresh in the refrigerator once it has been opened. I usually only eat 1/2 of an avocado at a time, and try to use up the other half within a day or two. The method that I have personally found works best is tightly wrapping the remaining half in foil or Press ‘n Seal wrap and then placing it in a plastic Ziploc bag. If possible, use the half without the pit in it first, and leave the pit in the half that you plan to store in the refrigerator for an extra day. The next day, remove the pit and dig in. It’s okay to scrape a little bit of brown off the top layer (it’s also okay to eat it, it’s just not as pretty). After 1-2 days, it might get yucky, at which point, you should toss it. If you struggle to eat it within a few days, you could freeze what is left to throw in smoothies!
I have tried the method where you squirt some lemon or lime juice on it, as the citrus is supposed to prevent browning, but that honestly hasn’t proven to be super effective for me. It tends to make a mess and go bad just as quickly. Unfortunately, it’s just a food that doesn’t last a long time! That’s what you get with real, whole foods, so eat it up within 1-2 days! ; )
My Favorite Ways to Use Avocado
Since you know you need to use the whole thing up quickly, you might want a few different ideas on how to do that! Here are some pictures & links to recipes that I personally love to add avocados to. So delicious!
Avocado Toast with Trader Joe’s Everything But The Bagel Seasoning
Crockpot White Chicken Chili — I need some pretty, updated photos of this recipe! Stay tuned. I promise it’s yummier than it looks in the current photos. ; )
One-Pan Mexican Quinoa by Damn Delicious (one of my favorite quick & easy weeknight recipes! It is meatless, but we also love it with ground chicken added.)
Other delicious meals with avocado, if you just wanna see some #foodporn:
I hope this was helpful for all you fellow avocado-lovers or wanna-be avocado-lovers out there. 😉 Let me know if you have any awesome tips that I missed!
Have a great weekend!
#WellnessForTheWin #AvocadoObsessed #AvocadoTips