It happens to everyone: You’re strolling through the produce section of your supermarket and you spy a fruit or vegetable that piques your curiosity. Maybe you’ve never seen it before, so you wonder what it is and how you could use it. Or perhaps you see it all the time and you know exactly what it is and how you could incorporate it into your meal plans . . . but it’s the selection and prep work that leave you stymied. How do you pick the best fruit and know it’s ripe? How do you slice it? And how do you save and store it if you don’t use it all at once?
We may not be able to help you with dragon fruit, romanesco, or jicama, but when it comes to avocados, we’ve got you covered! Read on for Avo 101, your own personal crash course on selecting, preparing, and saving this great green fruit. It’ll be the easiest — and most delicious — class you’ll ever take!
1. How to Tell If an Avocado Is Ripe
There’s a tempting pile of avocados in the fruit and vegetable section of the grocery store, but you’re reluctant to buy any because you’ve never been sure how to tell if they’re ripe. Does color indicate ripeness? How about scent or texture?
It turns out, there’s no big mystery to decode when it comes to determining an avocado’s ripeness. There’s only one factor you need to consider, and that’s whether the avocado yields under the gentle pressure of your thumb. Still not sure? Check out this quick video for a demonstration.
2. How to Ripen an Avocado
Suppose you’ve perfected your ability to choose a ripe avocado, but it turns out that not a single one at the supermarket is ready yet. Should you still buy one? Will it ever ripen at home? Short answers: Yes and yes!
Longer answer: You can speed up an avocado’s maturation at home with a couple common kitchen and pantry items, namely, a paper bag and a banana. Simply place the unripe avocado in the paper bag along with a banana and check back over the following few days — four usually do the trick— to test ripeness. Need a visual? You can see the process in this video.
3. How to Slow Down Ripening
Sometimes, you have the opposite problem: You’ve bought an avocado that’s ripening too quickly. If you need to decelerate the process of maturation, there’s a trick for that, and it’s the easiest of them all! The only thing you need to do is move the avocado from the countertop or table and into the fridge, where the cold will put a literal chill on the ripening process. Learn more in this video.
4. How to Slice and Dice an Avocado
Have you ever bought a fruit or vegetable only to wonder, once you’re at home in your kitchen, which way to slice it? This how-to question may seem to pose an even bigger challenge when the fruit has a pit or seed, as the avocado does.
But don’t be intimidated: This little green fruit is user-friendly. Check out this short video for the secrets of slicing and dicing avocados. You’ll be serving up avocado in salads or as garnishes on soups in no time!
5. How to Save Half an Avocado
It’s hard to resist using the whole avocado once you’ve sliced into it, but if you ever have an avocado half that you need to save, what should you do? And how can you keep it from turning brown and mushy? Chef Pati Jinich lets you in on her secrets (Hint: The trick involves a lemon and some plastic wrap) in this fun video.