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In season early summer: Avocados

The Hass variety is the most common variety of avocado grown in New Zealand.

When the pear-shaped Hass avocado is ripe the skin changes from green to purple-black and the fruit softens. Hass avocados have a creamy texture and nutty flavour. The Reed variety is a large and round green-skinned avocado that remains green when ripe.

Buying

Avocados do not soften on the tree — they soften at room temperature. Press the fruit at the stem end to check ripeness. If there is some give, the avocado is ripe. When the Hass avocado is bright green or olive green the fruit still has two to three days before ripening. Brown-green avocados are a firm ripe — ideal for dicing or slicing, while dark brown avocados are a soft ripe – perfect for mashing. Black avocados are overripe.

Storing

Keep unripe avocados at room temperature. To ripen an avocado, place the fruit in a paper bag with an apple or banana for up to five days (the ethylene gas from the other fruit helps ripening). Keep ripe avocados in the fridge for a few days. It’s best to keep the avocado whole when stored in the fridge to avoid any browning that happens when the flesh is exposed to air. Sprinkle avocado flesh with a little lemon or lime juice or white vinegar to stop any browning then cover with plastic wrap (also see tip).

Avocado flesh can be frozen. Simply purée the flesh, adding one tablespoon lemon juice for each two puréed avocados. Store puréed avocado in an airtight container leaving a little space at the top. Freeze and use within four to five months in sandwiches and dips.

Nutrition

A quarter of a Haas avocado provides 410kJ and 10g fat. While high in fat, avocados are rich in healthy monounsaturated fats, are a source of vitamin E and fibre and contain small amounts of omega-3.

Using

Cut an avocado lengthwise and twist slightly to separate the halves. To remove the seed, slide the tip of a spoon under the seed and lift out. To remove skin, hold a half in the palm and slip a spoon between flesh and skin to ease flesh away.

Recipe ideas

Avocado is a key ingredient for guacamole and salsa and salads. Try these summer salad recipes:

Fruity chicken and avocado salad
Barbecue lamb salad
Zingy prawn platter

Tip: Want to stop your unused avocado half from turning brown? Run cold water over the avocado flesh then put it in the fridge.

First published: Dec 2011



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