Grocery Guide: Choosing Avocados

In the avocado bin of just about any market, you often can find the gamut of avocado ripeness stages, from the hard verdant green of unripe fruit, to the dark greenish-brown blobs that are beginning to cave. What surprises me is that even in well-maintained produce sections, end-stage avocados remain, leading me to suspect that some shoppers like them that way.

Avocados, known colloquially as "alligator pears," though I've never met anyone colloquial enough to call them that, are ideally selected when they give a little to gentle pressure. That's a good way to choose one, if you're going to use it immediately. I prefer to take a pro-active approach, by picking avocados when they are slightly unripe, and taking them quickly through the ripening process. Kind of control-freaky, I know, but it's easier than picking out the brown spots when I eat them.

I choose the avocados that are bright-green, or just turning dark on the raised areas. When I bring them home, I put them in a closed plastic bag and let the ripening gases do their work. The avocados will turn from bright green to dark green, with the raised portion of the skin darkening to brownish-green. Often, this will happen overnight, or within 24 hours. By this time, the fruit should give a little when squeezed. Then the ripe avocados go in the refrigerator, and the stragglers stay out for more ripening.

It's best to eat them within three days of this process, but some avocados will keep longer. When cut open and sliced, they'll have a nutty taste, and we'll eat them Puerto Rican style, with salt, pepper, and a splash of olive oil.

Avocado Sandwich

  • 2 slices whole-wheat bread or toasted English muffin
  • 2 slices Jarlsberg, or any Swiss-like cheese
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 1 small avocado
  • Mayonnaise, salt and pepper

Mayo one slice of bread, layer on cheese, then tomato. Coarsely and lightly mash the avocado slices, or one will slide out of the sandwich and into your lap like a wet frog. Put the avocado on the other piece of bread, salt and pepper it all and put both sides of the sandwich together.

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