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Like the passionate love-child of a vegetable and stick of butter, avocados are creamy, fatty, healthy, and delicious. This video will demonstrate a couple tips on how to make the most of your avocado both in ease of preparing, and in presentation.
Shopping and Storage
A ripe avocado should give significantly to the touch, but not be mushy. An impression made by pressing firmly with your fingers should stay in the flesh. On a Hass avocado (the most common variety), the skin should be dark brown and pebbly, not green. Other varieties of seasonal avocados, like the smooth-skinned, crisper fleshed Fuerte may still be bright green when ripe.
Unripe avocados should be stored at room temperature in a fruit basket until fully ripened. To hasten their ripening, place them in a brown paper bag. This will concentrate the ethylene gas naturally released by them which is used as a signal to ripen. Adding a banana or an apple or two to the bag will also hasten the ripening process, as those fruits also produce ethylene.
After ripening, an avocado should be consumed immediately, although it can be kept in the fridge for a night or two. Allow it to come to room temperature before eating (unless you like eating fridge-cold avocados, weirdo).
Once exposed to oxygen, the flesh of an avocado will quickly darken. A good trick to keeping half an avocado from oxidizing is to place it cut-side down on a plate with a thin layer of oil at the bottom. Store the avocado in that position in the fridge. The oil should prevent the surface from browning. Unfortunately there's no real way to prevent an avocado that's been mashed into guacamole from browning pretty rapidly. The old "leave the pit in the bowl" trick is an old wive's tale. The best you can do is to put it in a bowl and place a triple layer of plastic wrap directly on its surface to form a "skin." Treated this way, it should remain green for a few hours. Stir any discolored portions back into the rest right before serving and nobody will know the difference.
About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.