Avocados are all the hype nowadays – these pear-shaped fruits, otherwise called alligator pears, have found a way into our daily lives in more or less obvious ways. We can find these green fruits basically anywhere, in the supermarket’s fruit aisle, in a salad luring us from the next table in a deli or simply in online recipes. There’s a good reason why avocados have gained so much popularity all throughout the world – they’re delicious, easy to integrate in your diet and pretty much affordable.
The Basics on Avocados
Avocados have originated in Mexico and since been grown into hundreds of different varieties. You’ll actually find that this is where the famous guacamole originated too – the popular dish that has avocados at its very core. The fruit itself has a rich and creamy texture on the inside, while the outside is actually made of a yellowish-green flesh. Its consistency is quite creamy, with a nutty taste – a combination that makes avocado ideal as both a dessert and an ingredient in many different dishes.
There are many types of avocados out there and each of them has its unique set of characteristics, from varying sizes and flesh colors. They all however have one large seed inside and are cut and enjoyed in mostly the same ways.
What Makes Avocados Healthy for You?
What makes avocados truly special is that apart from their versatility and great taste, they also pack in tremendous nutritional value. They’re some of the richest fruits out there in terms of the antioxidants, minerals and vitamins they provide you with.
A brief overview of the nutritional value that avocados pack in looks like this:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin K1
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin B6
By introducing avocados into your regular diet, you can be sure to benefit from a world of nutritious power, the kind that will perk up your immune system and prevent several unpleasant health conditions from happening down the road.
It’s important to take note of the antioxidants these fruits pack in, since they contribute to decreasing inflammation in the body and play an important part against cellular oxidative stress. This means that antioxidants will effectively fight free radicals – the compounds that accelerate the body’s natural aging process.
These compounds can be found in a polluted environment, in cigarettes and alcohol. They all contribute to bringing the body down ahead of its time and the antioxidants contained by avocados do a terrific job in keeping these unpleasant effects at bay.
Vitamin C will help your body maintain and repair tissues all around. Fiber will give you a feeling of satiety and keep you from snacking, while also regulating your bowel movements. Vitamin E plays an active role in maintaining the health and healthy appearance of the skin, among others. Vitamin K will help with blood clotting, while also regulating blood calcium levels. Protein is also responsible for the healthy maintenance of the tissues in the body – nails and hair, for example, contain plenty of protein.
Vitamin B6 may help with easing symptoms of depression and may promote brain health. Potassium supports cardiovascular health and proper blood pressure. Copper is responsible for better absorbing iron in the body, while also supporting build collagen.
So, as you can see, avocados truly bring a lot to the table and certainly a lot to your meals and snacking habits. Now that it’s established how nutritious these antioxidant fruits really are, it’s important to also know how you can pick the best avocados and how you can properly store them in order to get the best they have to offer.
How Do You Pick the Best Avocados?
As mentioned above, there are hundreds of avocado varieties to choose from and each of them will look and feel differently. Some of the most important types include: Hass, Reed, Gwen, Choquette, Ettinger, Zutano, Bacon, among others.
Some of these will have a darker flesh and will be bigger, while others may seemingly look unripe, when in fact they are ready to be consumed. This may seem confusing and will require you to know how to best distinguish between the types of avocados, although Hass avocados tend to dominate the market.
Regardless of this, most avocados have the same guidelines you can follow when looking to choose the best, most ripe ones. The skin will always be the most trustworthy indicator of an avocado’s ripeness. Having said this, if the avocado has a lighter skin, it means it still has about 4-5 days more to ripen. When it’s close to ripening, the skin gets darker, switching from an intense green to a dark purple hue, with a tendency to even blacken.
How an avocado feels to the touch is also an indicator of the fruit’s ripeness. If it’s firm to the touch and it doesn’t yield to a bit of pressure, it means it still has some way to go until you can consume it. If however you can apply slight pressure and you feel it yielding, it means that your avocado is ripe and ready. Similarly to other fruits out there, if an avocado feels mushy to the touch, it’s an indication of it being overripe – in this case it would be best to pass on this experience and simply choose ripe avocados instead.
How Do You Store Avocados?
If you haven’t cut your avocados yet, it’s important to remember that their shelf life will be a bit longer than if you did already do that. Storing cut avocado is a bit different and you can find tips on that by further reading this article.
Having said this, you can still keep an unripe avocado, that has a greener look and firmer touch, on the counter for 4 or 5 days extra. This time should be enough for the ripening process to take its natural course. If you choose to refrigerate it, then this ripening process can extend to up to 1-2 weeks. Of course this will depend on how ripe the avocado was to begin with and what temperature you set your refrigerator to.
However the situation will look entirely different when you’re looking to store a cut avocado and this is because avocados are such perishable fruits. If you’re wondering how to keep a cut avocado fresh, let’s see first what the best cutting technique is and then we’ll delve straight into tips on how to store cut avocados.
How to Best Cut an Avocado
- Get a cutting board and a good cutting knife and cut straight through the middle of your fruit until you feel the knife has made contact with the pit. Once you get to this point, don’t remove the knife and instead cut through the entire avocado until it reaches the initial incision point.
- Twist the knife gently – this will enable the pit to come right out.
- At this point you can separate the two halves quite easily.
- Take one half in the palm of your hand and use a spoon to scoop its content. Insert it carefully straight between the flesh and the buttery content and use a smooth motion to cover the entire half. The content should come right off.
- Place the peeled half face down on the cutting board and start cutting in pieces that are as small or as large as you want them to be.
As soon as you do this and if you’re not consuming your avocado straight away, you will need to take certain steps in order to keep a cut avocado fresh.
If it’s the first time you’re doing this and may be a bit nervous to botch the cutting job, you can watch this video on how to slice an avocado in three different ways. Injuries do tend to happen when cutting up an avocado, so it may be best to let the video guide you through the process. It will take you step by step and enable you with the visuals you need to get creative with your avocado in terms of cutting it, before you actually start preparing it.
How to Store Cut Avocado
If you’ve cut your avocado and are looking to store it properly in order to keep it from going bad, it’s essential to remember one key aspect: you will need to cover the exposed green part at all costs.
Keeping this in mind, the next helpful insight to take into consideration is to cut this fruit horizontally as a horizontal cut will expose the least flesh possible. If you put it face down in a bowl and take it straight to the refrigerator, it should last for a couple of more days.
Otherwise there are several tips on how to store a cut avocado and each of them implies that you add something to your avocado:
- Leaving the avocado in the refrigerator next to a slice of onion.
- Drizzling a bit of lemon juice on your cut avocado.
- Coating your avocado in oil.
- Simply wrapping your avocado in foil and letting it sit in the refrigerator.
- Placing your avocado in a container straight into the refrigerator.
Elle Penner from Open Fit experimented with all options above for 48 hours in order to see which one may better help keep a cut avocado fresh for a longer time. In her experiment, the lemon-brushed avocado did the worst – it browned the first and took a citrusy flavor. However other sources claim this to be a good technique to help preserve your avocado, so it may depend from avocado to avocado.
The one avocado half that was kept near the onion did fare better than the lemon-drizzled one and did get a specific taste that ultimately made it ideal for guacamole.
The oil-covered avocado did better than the two above, but did change color in about 72 hours.
The avocado that was wrapped in plastic film did pretty well in this experiment, as the flesh didn’t change much in terms of color and consistency and the taste remained mostly the same.
The one avocado that sat in the container in the refrigerator actually did better than all the other halves of avocados. Due to the lack of air, the flesh did get a bit drier than all the other ones, but in this context it made perfect sense. It’s only up to you to choose which storing version you prefer.
So although this test is pretty suggestive of what does and doesn’t work in terms of storing a cut avocado, it’s important that you test these suggestions yourself as well. It’s only by trying that you actually see which one does better and, after all, which one works best for you – if you prefer a drier skin, for example, compared to one that’s slightly onion-scented.
How to Use Avocados After Being Cut?
Now that you’ve cut your avocados, it’s important to choose what you next want to do with them. The best part about these fruits is that you can use them in a variety of ways that can satisfy both your cravings and your creativity:
- Raw, as a snack.
- Avocado salad – take for example this one, the Caprese salad Napoleon with avocado, and a video that shows you how to prepare it step by step.
- Avocado soup.
- Avocado brownies.
- Coconut avocado popsicles.
- Chocolate-peanut butter avocado pudding
- The list really does go on and you can see more Avocado recipes here.
As you can see, avocados are pretty wondrous fruits with plenty to offer in terms of both taste and possibilities of use and health benefits. Having said this, it’s a shame to buy perfectly ripe and good avocados only to see them quickly brown and spoil after you’ve cut them. However if you follow the storing suggestions above, you may very well enjoy your avocados for as long as you possibly can. Apart from this, by keeping them fresh, you’ll also benefit from all the nutrients for much longer – healthy, fresh and delicious.