My dad started dating a woman named Laurie about two years ago. She’s sharp and successful and a joy to be around—and she keeps him in check, since I’m too far away to do that anymore. They’re great together. Over the past couple years she’s introduced him to many of the things that she loves, which have become things that he now loves as well: weekends at the cabin, Caribbean cruises, cats (Monumental this, since he despised the creatures back when I was a kitty-crazy little girl and all I wanted in the world was to have half a million of the things to snuggle and love forever and always. Now, as an adult, I am severely allergic to them and need to load up on Zyrtec before visiting any house that a cat has even looked at in the past ten years. There’s some sort of irony or something in that, right? But I digress….), and avocados.
During a phone call sometime last year he told me all about avocados. About how much Laurie loves them and how much he loves them and about how he bought one to slice up for a salad or something. He then proceeded to tell me about how he attempted to get into the thing. If memory serves, it involved a vegetable peeler(!) and consequently hacking the flesh away from the pit. I bit my tongue and let him describe it then, cringing, much as I’m cringing now reimagining it. Once he finished, I very gently told him that there is a far, far easier way to prep an avocado.
Which got me thinking: not everybody has spent an obscene amount of hours watching the Food Network like I have. I know so many basic cooking-related tips and tricks as a result of both that and my time in the kitchen—why not put some of it up here? I have no illusions about being an authority or the only/best resource for this type of information, but if someone that doesn’t watch cooking television shows up here and consequently never touches a vegetable peeler to an avocado? I’d say such a post will have been well worth publishing.
So, this hereby marks the beginning of a new series of how-to posts on GF in the City. I have a couple more in mind and will continue to keep my eyes open for things worth explaining, but if you have any ideas for something you’d like to see here, in step-by-step photos, please let me know.
On to the avocados!
Start with a ripe avocado. You don’t have to squeeze hard to find one–please don’t actually–but when you apply light pressure to the fruit with your fingers, it should give just slightly. Do not select one that feels soft. Conversely, if it feels like a rock, either pass it over or plan to leave it out on the counter for a couple days to ripen.
Avocados are one of those fruits that tend to oxidize and turn brown quickly. Choose something acidic to counteract this. Lime juice is a popular pairing with avocados (read: guacamole), but you could also use lemon juice or a bit of vinegar depending on how you intend to use it.
Have your acid standing at the ready. For me, this means slicing my lime in half so it’s ready to juice.
Now, take your avocado and use a sharp knife to slice it in half vertically. I do this by sticking the blade in one side of the avocado and running it around the vertical circumference–remember you have that big pit in the middle to work around.
Once you’ve sliced all the way around the fruit, grab each half and twist it–like an Oreo. Discard the little nub from the stem.
One half will come loose from the pit and you’ll be able to pull it apart easily.
Set the pitted half aside, cut-side-down to keep it from going brown. Now, take the half that still has the pit in it and set it up on it’s side.
Except, tuck your fingers in. The knife is coming back into play.
Strike the pit with the butt of your knife blade so that it sticks in. Do not raise your knife above your head and bring it down forcefully, like a psychopath. Simply position it a couple inches above the pit and give it a firm thwack. You’re putting, not driving. (I think. Right? Or maybe people who don’t play golf should just refrain from making golf-related metaphors….)
Using the knife as a sort of lever, pull the pit apart from the avocado. It may even practically fall out. If your avocado isn’t ripe, though, you’ll have a very difficult time with this and I’ll have to refer you back to the first step: “Start with a ripe avocado.”
Now that the pit is out, grab a large spoon.
Insert the edge of that spoon between the skin and the flesh of the avocado.
Run the spoon under and around the flesh, keeping it close to the skin, and scoop out the entire flesh in one piece.
From here, you can take your knife and slice the avocado. Sliced avocado looks pretty arranged on top of salads, is great for sandwiches or for sprinkling with salt and snacking, straight up.
If you want chunks of avocado, turn your slices 90 degrees and go through them again with your knife. Diced avocado is good for salads, tacos, as a garnish on chili or soup, or as a prep step before mashing them up for guacamole.
And in case it wasn’t obvious, repeat the scoop and slice/dice procedure with the other half of the avocado.
Once you’ve either sliced or diced your avocado, take your lime (or your acidic element of choice)…
…the juice down over the top of your avocado.
Toss or gently rub it around a bit to make sure it’s well-coated and use as desired.
An extra tip: Avocados are best prepped immediately prior to use due to their tendency to brown. This is why most good Mexican restaurants make their guac to order. Also, I’ve personally noticed that avocado stays bright longer if left at room temperature; for some reason a couple minutes in the fridge will make it turn.