The love + care of an avocado
Capturing an avocado at its absolute peak moment of ripeness is a not an enterprise for one who lacks determination. It’s a practice really, one you take on for life, if eating avocados is something you intend to do. You’ll need courage, fortitude.
It starts, of course, with learning to pick the right one from the market; not too hard, not too soft. It still makes me a little anxious.
You can never expect to run to the grocery for a last minute avocado. The love and care of an avocado requires a strategy as well as time management skills. You must plan ahead.
And then there is the wait. You must be patient. Moreover, you must exhibit the willingness to observe, to study actually, the subtle changes as they are happening. You are building a skill here and this requires focus. Avocados ripen slowly but don’t take that for granted. There is a magic window of time for perfect ripeness; and when it closes, nothing but disappointment can come to you.
The avocado is elusive like that. I’ve squeezed and kneaded and pressed the skin of thousands of avocadoes so my game is pretty strong at this point. But don’t think I’m overconfident.
There is never a time that I cut into an avocado, even after applying everything I know about the process, that I don’t breathe a sigh of relief at the sight of smooth, blemish free, bright neon green flesh. I celebrate my luck.
Here are some tips to consider for your personal practice of avocado care:
1. While color is important, the tautness of the skin is more so. Hold an avocado in your hand and press on the skin.
If it’s rock hard and neon green, it will take time to ripen and should sit on the kitchen counter until it does.
If it’s rock hard and black, it may never ripen. Skip it.
If the skin yields slightly the touch and is neon green, it should be kept on the counter a couple of days before being refrigerated. You could take your chances on this one though and open it now.
If the skin yields to the touch and is black, this avocado has perfect potential. If not opening it the same day, it needs to go straight in the refrigerator where it will likely keep a few more days.
If the skin caves in to the touch, this is an avocado whose time has likely come and gone. If the skin buckles, that means that air has gotten in between the flesh and skin. Oxidation turns the flesh brown, and destroys the flavor.
See how the skin collapses in this video? That's a sign of a brown, mushy inside.
2. Once the skin is yielding to the touch, an avocado should be kept refrigerated to extend its potential. Continue to watch it though, because once air gets under the flesh, time’s up.
3. If you are only using half of an avocado at a time, be sure to leave the pit snugly inside the unused half. Cover it with the empty half shell and wrap it tightly with plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator.
4. Anytime you want to extend the bright color of a dish made with avocado (guacamole comes to mind), lay plastic wrap as tight as possible on the surface.
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