Most avocados sold in Canada are grown year-round in sunny Mexico, so it’s always the right time to stock up. And there’s so much more to “alligator pears” (as they were called 100 years ago) than guacamole. Delicious on their own with a sprinkle of salt, these smooth, buttery fruits will also boost the flavours of any dish they’re added to, from salads to sides to chocolate cake.
How to Buy
Look for avocados with smooth, dent-free skins. Ripe ones will give slightly when squeezed. Rock-hard fruits are also fine—they will just take a little longer to ripen. Also check that the stem is intact: It keeps out oxygen, which can discolour the fruit or cause uneven ripening.
Is It Ripe?
Keep unripe avocados on the kitchen counter until they’re ready to eat, from two to seven days. The skin on popular Hass avocados will darken as they ripen, but other varieties, such as Fuerte, will stay green.
How to Speed Ripen
Grab a paper bag and a few apples—Red or Golden Delicious are best, as they produce more of the ethylene gas that helps ripen fruit. Pop the avocados and apples into the paper bag, fold over the top and let it stand on the counter. Check on them later that night or the next morning; if your avocados started out really hard, they may need a couple of days.
Even if you’ve cut into an avocado and found it’s too hard to eat, there’s still hope. Squeeze lemon or lime juice onto the flesh, put the avocado back together, wrap it tightly with plastic and refrigerate it until ripe. It will be ready to go in three days or less.
How to Store
Hit the pause button on ripe avocados by popping whole uncut fruits into the fridge. They will stay delicious for up to five days.
Just like an apple, a cut avocado browns quickly when exposed to oxygen. Sprinkle the flesh with lemon or lime juice, wrap the avocado with plastic or seal it in an airtight container and eat within one day—any longer and the texture won’t be as nice. You can also peel, purée and freeze avocados in an airtight container, adding 2 tsp (10 mL) lemon juice per avocado to prevent browning, for up to six months.
Tip: If you stored an avocado half with the seed intact and it developed an orange tinge overnight, don’t panic. That’s just the pit reacting to oxygen; this red-orange tannin is natural and not harmful. Your avocado is perfectly safe to eat.
How to Cut and Peel
Opening an avocado is easy. Using a large kitchen knife, cut through the avocado lengthwise until you reach the pit and then turn the fruit so the blade slices all the way around. Gently twist the halves with your hands and pull them apart. Spoon the pit out, or hit it with the knife blade, twist and pull it out.
You can slice or cube avocado flesh right inside the skin and then use a large spoon to scoop out the pieces. Or peel it: Cut the avocado into quarters and then slide your thumb under the skin and pull it off.
Lots of people want to eat avocados because they’re nourishing—but many have no idea how to use them at home. Relax! It’s easy, and they are good in both sweet and savoury recipes. Here are some of our favourite ways to enjoy them.
While almost everyone is familiar with guacamole, our Guacamole with Goat Cheese & Tomato is an even creamier, tangier version for dipping and spreading.
Did you know you could grill avocados? Cheesy Grilled Avocados with Cilantro-Jalapeno Vinaigrette are an easy addition to dinner on the barbecue.
Our Green Power Salad with Avocado Dressing blends creamy avocado into a rich and satisfying salad topper.
If classic guacamole flavours are more your style, try our Honey-Lime Avocado & Tomato Salad as a side or stuffed into taco shells.
Our Easy Salmon & Avocado Salad is a mid-week lifesaver, tossed together in minutes with bottled balsamic dressing.