How’s it hanging in your kitchen these days? Over on Instagram last week, I briefly mentioned that I’m dealing with a bit of seasonal malaise/social media fatigue/work-related burnout, and based on the response I got in my DMs, I know I’m not alone. If you’re *feeling it*, I’m sending you big virtual hugs and also a little reminder that it’s okay to cut yourself slack in the kitchen if your mental health requires it! I have been, and let me tell you, it’s been helpful.
So, for the last couple weeks, my kitchen’s been graced with a decent amount of takeout, more than a few bowls of cereal standing in for lunch, and a somewhat astounding number of haphazardly composed quesadillas and wraps. I know that all this is temporary and that I have the tools to pull myself out of this particular kitchen slump whenever I’m ready, but until then, in order to get some fiber (and joy!) into my diet, I’ll be leaning heavily on the little powerhouse of a veggie (fruit?) that is the topic of today’s Fresh Letter: the buttery-smooth, flavorful, but seemingly illusive perfectly ripe and fresh avocado.
We’ve all seen some version of the meme below. And until relatively recently, I too considered avocados to be the least reliable and most finicky member of the produce aisle.
But now I have a METHOD. And let me tell you, it works. Gone are the days of random bruises, fleeting ripeness, and astringent-tasting guacamole. Now when I open an avocado, I am, without fail, greeted with stunning, bright green, creamy, satisfying fruit. Without fail! Okay, are you on the edge of your seat? Good. Now let me share my (actually quite simple) secrets:
Here’s how I pick out (and care for) the perfect avocado. Every. Single. Time.
The first step is the most important. I repeat! The first step is the MOST IMPORTANT and it is this: When you’re in the produce aisle, please, I beg you, pick yourself an underripe avocado.
We’ve all been tempted by avocado-related instant gratification, but avoid it at all costs. This is how you end up with a sub-par, bruised, overripe, or too-quickly ripening avo.
Instead, look for one (or two, or three, or four! you do you, bestie) that’s quite firm to the touch, has mostly green skin, and a stem that’s still in tact as pictured below. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but we’ll talk about why in a moment.
Now, take your bounty home, set it out on the counter and check it every day-or-so for ripeness. Look for a slight give to the flesh when you press lightly with your thumb, a darkening of the skin away from green and toward deep brown or black, and a loosening of the stem. This’ll probably take 2-3 days, but maybe up to 4.
Underripe avocados are so much heartier than their ripe counterparts, so in selecting one that’s not quite ready, we’ve pulled it from grocery store shelves before it’s ripe and much more likely to get damaged by taking a tumble onto the supermarket floor, the pressure of other avocados stacked on top of it, or by the groping hands of the avo-grabbing masses. We’re giving it a chance to ripen undisturbed and in peace in our own homes! This is key.
Once ripe, do one of two things:
If you’re ready to enjoy it, cut in and do so!
Or, pop it whole, directly in the fridge until you’re ready to eat it. Put it someplace in the fridge where it won’t get crushed by other produce (read: not in your crisper drawer.) Your avo will remain perfectly ripe for another 2-3 days at least. Yep, you read that right. Pulling the avocado off the counter and moving it, whole, to the fridge extends its seemingly tiny window of ripeness by days.
I acknowledge that this method does involve a bit if delayed gratification, but if you’d like a never-ending supply of ripe avocados, it’s simply a matter of a bit of advanced planning. Buy enough avocados to get you through to your next grocery trip plus the 2-ish days it’ll take for the next round of underripe guys you buy there to ripen and voila, you’ve got perfectly ripe avos, always.
Finally, my tip for storing a partial avocado, because I’ve tried everything (storing face down in water, wrapped in cling wrap, doused in lemon with the pit still in, etc. etc.) and this is what works for me: run the flesh of the open avocado under a bit of cold water before popping it in an air-tight container and into the fridge. It doesn’t need to be sopping wet— a quick in and out from under the faucet will do. The little bit of water left on the flesh helps seal out some of the air in your container, which is what causes browning. And then I just slice off any browning that does show up before I use the other half. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty good and very low lift. Here’s a quick look at what the avo I opened yesterday looks like after about 24 hours in the fridge using this method:
And that’s it! I’ve written a bit about storing veggies in the past, and briefly touched on avos, but got a few requests to specifically discuss them when I did, so I hope this was helpful for you. And again, sending you *big hugs* to ward off those seasonal blues and wishes for a well-fed (perfectly ripe avocado laden?) week ahead!
With love and a tip of my chef’s hat,
P.S. If you’re in the market for a last minute gift that’ll definitely arrive in time (no supply chain issues here!), might I recommend the virtual meal prep classes Abigail and I are hosting in 2022? We offer a four-pack of classes at a steeply discounted rate. It would make the perfect present for the person in your life looking to establish a meal prep habit (or maybe that person is you? I’m very pro-self gifting!) and you can head this way to take a peek at it.