Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Avocado 101

By Madeleine Dee

Some of the questions I am asked most often as a chef are how to pick a perfect avocado, if avocados are healthy, and how one might go about getting into an avocado. The following  article addresses each of these concerns. :)
Avocados are available during all seasons, but that doesn’t mean they’re great all year long! They are grown in warm climates, so during the winter, they likely travel a little farther than normal to make it to your grocery store, and most will have some jet lag from the journey. 
When selecting an avocado, look for a shiny black skin. It should be firm but have a bit of a give when gently squeezed. However, it should not dent or ooze when pressed. If you feel uncertain, pop out that little stem tab at the top – if the hole you uncover is green, you’ve got a winner!
Avocados are quite nutritious and notably rich in vitamins E, C, and K, as well as potassium, folate, and fiber. They do contain fat, but it's just little ole monounsaturated fat, which helps to lower blood cholesterol and can aid in decreasing your risk of heart disease.
Now, as for cutting into one of these guys, follow the simple steps below:

1. With a sharp knife, cut through the skin and down to the pit in the center. Carefully roll the avocado, cutting a straight line around the entire fruit to get back to your starting point.

2. Split the two halves by twisting gently in opposite directions and pulling apart.

3. To remove the pit, hold the avocado half in your hand and gently but firmly whack the pit with your knife, then twist to remove. Cover your hand with a paper towel and carefully remove the pit from your knife.

4. “Score” your avocado by slicing even lines from top to bottom, then from side to side to form a grid pattern. Be careful not to cut through the skin. (You could also scoop out the flesh with a spoon and then dice it, but you’ll look like such a pro if you can master this scoring technique in the skin!)

5. Use a spoon to scoop out the scored flesh and enjoy perfectly diced avocado! To help keep the avocado green longer, toss it with a little lime or lemon juice.

Now you're an avocado pro! Go impress somebody. 
Go on - shoo! :)

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Executive Chef and Owner of No Place Like Home in Louisville, KY. Writer, actress, chef, professional cook and professional eater.