The Avocado is a fruit that is often mistaken for a vegetable.
Avocados come in different shapes, from oval to pear depending on which variety they are from. But green or dark, rough or smooth, they are all the same inside. With a large inedible stone surrounded by soft, buttery, creamy-white to greenish-yellow flesh which has a delicate nutty taste.
Avocados, sometimes called alligator pears, or butter pear, are a fruit in the Lauraceae family (laurel). They come from the highlands of Mexico and Central America and the lowlands of Columbia and South America.
Avocados don't ripen on the trees. It's actually the harvesting action that triggers the ripening process. This is the reason that avocados are often still hard at the market, its not a sign of an inferior fruit but of one that still needs some time to undergo full ripening. Be careful though not to purchase avocados that rattle when you shake them. This means the pit is pulled away from the flesh and it is too overripe.
When you get the Avocados home, do not refrigerate the unripened ones, because they will not ripen in cold temperatures. The unripened Avocados are best stored in a cool dark place until they have ripened. To speed up the ripening of an Avocado, place the fruit in a plain brown paper bag and store at room temperature until ready to eat. This will usually take two to five days. Including an apple or banana in the bag accelerates the process, as these fruits give off ethylene gas - a ripening agent.
Only refrigerate ripe avocados. Avocados will keep for up to 3-5 days when refrigerated but leaving them too long in the refrigerator will cause them to lose their flavour. Avocado flesh darkens rapidly when exposed to air. If not eating straight away brush the cut surfaces with lemon or lime juice to stop it browning.
STONING AN AVOCADO ~ Halve the avocado lenghtways and twist the halves in opposite directions to separate. Place the halve with the stone on a board and carefully strike the stone with a large shap knife. Twist to dislodge the stone.
Serve Avocado with Spicy Chicken Tortillas
Or try a tangy Avocado Salsa, quick and easy to prepare. This Salsa makes a good accompaniment to warm dishes.
1 ripe Avocado
2 tbsp lime juice
2 spring onions
1 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
salt & freshly ground blackpepper
red pepper, diced to garnish
Halve the avocado lenghtways and twist the halves in opposite directions to separate. Place the halve with the stone on a board and carefully strike the stone with a large shap knife. Twist to dislodge the stone. Peel off the skin and cut the avocado into 1-cm / 1/2-inch dice.
Put the avocado flesh in a bowl with the lime juice, spring onions, and coriander. Season to taste with the salt & pepper, and toss lightly to combine. Cover and refrigerate until required. When ready, serve garnished with diced red pepper.