In her biweekly column, Kitchen Basics, Susan Pachikara of Cardamom Kitchen demystifies essential cooking skills with step-by-step instructions and her own handsome photos. Whether she's showing us how much brown sugar we're meant to "pack"(or is it cram?) into measuring cups or how to detect when our onions are properly caramelized, Susan is the nonna we never had -- until now. Now, go on and get cozy under her wing.
This week, Susan demonstrates how to pit, slice, and dice avocado.
As creamy as butter and as subtle as white chocolate, avocados add sophistication to many a dish. Their bumpy, alligator-like skin hides melt-in-your mouth yellow-green flesh. Here are some tips to use, whether you’re shopping for a batch of rippled, purple-skinned Hass, thin-skinned Fuerte, or another variety.
How to Select Avocados
Avocados only ripen after they have been harvested. To test whether an avocado is ready to eat, give it a gentle squeeze and look for a shallow imprint in the skin. If the flesh is as hard as a bowling ball, it will need time to mature. If you feel the flesh collapses under the skin, the fruit is past its prime.
How to Store Avocados
Ripe avocados can be stored in the refrigerator for two to three days. Once cut, be sure to sprinkle them with lemon juice, lime juice, or another acid to keep them from turning brown (or "oxidizing"). Unripe avocados should be kept at room temperature until they ripen. To hasten the ripening process, place the fruit in a paper bag with an apple or a banana.
To freeze: If, through great fortune, you end up with more avocados than you can use, consider freezing them. Use the steps below to pit and mash the fruit. Then sprinkle it with lemon juice, lime juice, or another acid to keep it from browning. Place it in an airtight container or freezer-safe bag before freezing it.
How to Prepare Avocados
To pit: Thoroughly wash and dry the avocado. Place it on a cutting board lengthwise. Hold a chef’s knife parallel to the cutting board. Starting at one pole, slice into the fruit. Rotate the fruit and continue to slice it along the equator.
Grasp the avocado with both hands and twist in opposite directions.
Carefully insert a spoon under the pit and lift it out.
To slice: Place half of the avocado on a cutting board with the cut side down. With a chef’s knife, cut it down the middle lengthwise.
Carefully pull off the skin.
Place the fruit on the cutting board and slice it lengthwise or widthwise.
To dice: Hold half of an avocado with one hand, flesh side up. With a butter knife, cut the flesh into half-inch strips lengthwise. Cut the flesh into half-inch strips widthwise.
Use a spoon to scoop out the diced fruit.
To mash: Scoop out the flesh from a pitted and diced avocado with a spoon and place it in a bowl. Then mash it with a fork.
Sliced avocado finds itself at home with tomato, fresh herbs, and cracked black pepper
I’d love to see your tips for prepping avocados! Share them with your fellow cooks in the comments section below.
Are you new to cooking? Tell me what skills you'd like to learn and your idea could be featured in an upcoming post!
Want more basic tips from Susan? Check out her previous post: Kitchen Basics: Strawberries.
All photos by Susan Pachikara.
Susan writes the blog Cardamom Kitchen to share her culinary experiences as an Indian-American rooted in the Midwest.