Avocados: the best thing to happen to toast since sliced bread. From that basic brunch food to guacamole, the velvety fat just makes everything taste better. They're the bacon of the fruit world, if you will. Whether you're slicing, dicing, or mashing them up, here's everything you need to know about avocados, including how to prevent browning so you never eff up the football snacks again.
How to select and store avocados
A ripe, ready-to-eat avocado is slightly soft but not squishy. Look for avocados with a slight neck (not rounded on top) because those ripened longer on the tree, which means they'll taste better.
A firmer, less mature avocado is less likely to have bruises and can be ripened at home. Place it in a paper bag at room temperature and it'll ripen in two to five days, depending on where you live. Stick a banana or apple in with it to speed up the process. These fruits emit ethylene gas, which spurs ripening.
Once ripe, avocados can be kept refrigerated for up to a week.
How to tell if it's ripe
When the outside of an avocado is black or dark purple and yields to gentle pressure, it is ready to eat or refrigerate. Still not sure? Pluck the stem. If it's bright green under there, it's not ready yet. If it's brown, it's past its prime. If it's a yellowish brown, like this one, it's just right.
Slicing, dicing, and peeling avocados
Wash avocados before cutting so dirt and bacteria don't get crammed into the pulp (eww).
Insert a paring knife into the top of the avocado (where the stem was) and gently press down until you reach the pit. Keep the knife steady and rotate the fruit so the knife travels all the way around the pit, cutting the entire avocado in half. Remove the knife and slowly twist the two sides in opposite directions to separate. Strike the pit with the blade of your knife and twist to remove the pit. Use the knife’s tip to slice the flesh in horizontal and vertical rows. Be careful not to cut through the skin. Gently invert the avocado to release the pieces, or scoop them out with a spoon.
The only bummer about avocados is the browning. It happens once the flesh is exposed to oxygen because of a chemical reaction with the fruit's enzymes. Luckily, it can be prevented in several ways, and no, leaving the pit in the avocado doesn't work.
If making something, like guac, that also contains citrus, squirt lemon or lime juice on the exposed flesh immediately after you cut the avocado open.
But sometimes you don't want tart avocados, and that's when you use the boil method. Dunk avocados into boiling water for 10 seconds EXACTLY, then transfer to an ice bath to cool. This is long enough to kill those pesky enzymes, but not long enough to actually cook the avocado. Your avocado won't turn brown for several hours, even sitting out in the open air.
Storing open avocados
If you're saving some for later, just store it in an airtight container with lime or lemon wedges. You can also wrap it in cling wrap, making sure the plastic covers all the flesh to prevent browning.