Avocados RULE

Welcome to avocado season! Let the celebration begin now that the emerald gems are on sale for as low as a dollar a piece. Not just any avocados mind you, but the HASS avocado. We can also thank Cinco de Mayo for this glorious windfall, which officially launches the spread of guacamole from now through Super Bowl Sunday.   

Sure, we can be frivolous with money in the presence of such abundance, but buyers beware. If you’ve ever spent $2.49 on an off-season avocado – only to find rot and disappointment inside, you’ll want to learn my selection secret: only buy the ones that have a stem attached.  That’s the little stubby knob that most avocados still have when they reach the market.

Why does this matter?  Some noteworthy facts:  The thick avocado skin is almost impervious to damage. It is one of the few fruits that do not ripen on the tree, making it smart to harvest early and store until needed. Avocados are harvested by hand with special sheers that often leave a stubby nub behind. This is a boon for merchants and consumers because the nub protects the only entry into the fruit from bacterial invaders.

Once the nub is removed, the opening sounds a siren for micro organisms to wreak havoc on the inside of the fruit, virtually undetectable from the outside (you might see some depressions in the skin). Select your avocado with a snugly fitting stub without removing it (bright green around the nub is another indicator of freshness). To tell if the fruit is ripe, squeeze it gently. If it gives under pressure it is ripe and ready to eat (or refrigerate for a day or two). If it doesn’t give under pressure it is not quite ready. Check each day for a change in firmness.

It is just a tremendous bonus that avocados are a healthy food or I’d be hard pressed to drop it from my diet. Of about 500 varieties of avocados on the global market, the Hass is the most highly prized for its rich, nutty flavor and velvety texture, thanks to a healthy dose of healthy fat. 

In closing, the avocado gifts us with a good source of fiber, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate and vitamin B6. Half of an avocado is 160 calories with about 15 grams of unsaturated fat, 2 grams of saturated fat and no cholesterol.  To learn more about avocados visit the California Avocado Commission website, (image from their website) or just ask me. I have a PowerPoint. 🙂

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10 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Maria on May 4, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    Joy, thanks so much for the information on picking a fresh avocado. I didn’t know about the nub. Maybe, that is why the last couple of avocados I bought looked dark on the inside. Much to my disappointment had to throw them out. I will make sure I check the nub from now on.
    I’ve got a couple of questions for you. 1) Which is healthier roasting or steaming your veggies or are some better roasted than steamed? 2)Should you wash all your veggies when you come home from the grocery or as you use them?3) What is the best way to cook brown rice and could you recommend a brand that you like?
    Thanks for your help!!!!

    Reply

    • Maria, I’ve had such good luck with avocados ever since I figured out the difference between those that had the nub and those that didn’t. Hope that helps you, too!

      On your questions, #1) Steaming is a healthier method for vegetables because it retains more nutrients by cooking for a shorter length of time. #2) I typically wash fruits and veggies right before I plan to use them. ALthough I will wash 2 – 3 days worth of lettuce and wrap it in paper towels then put in loosely closed plastic bag. That saves time when I am making salads. Be sure to wash even those foods that you don’t eat the peeling – like cantaloupes and lemons, for example. Your cutting board can become contaminated by whatever is on there as can your knives. #3) I like Lundburg rice which I can find usually at Publix and always at a health food store. They make it a point to be gluten free so I don’t have to worry about cross contamination. I use a rice cooker that saves time but the traditional stove top method seems to work fine, too. I will often use chicken broth or other broth just to enhance the flavor, and have been known to use coconut water as well.

      Reply

    • Hi Maria, on your recent question about a rice cooker it can be found at stores that sell kitchen appliances such as Bed Bath & Beyond. Hope that helps!

      Reply

  2. Posted by Lois Szydlowski on May 6, 2012 at 6:00 am

    I didn’t know about the nub either….I will have to look for that from now on. Great tip! I am always running around from store to store when I need to buy them ripe, because I keep forgetting to plan in advance when needing a lot of them for guacamole. Are there other avocados besides the Florida large green ones?…have any advice for those?…they really don’t have the flavor that Hass do.

    Reply

    • Hi Lois, I can’t say I’ve ever seen any other varieties of avocados here in Tampa than the ‘Florida’ or ‘Hass’. I agree the FLorida avocado just doesn’t have the flavor of the Hass. It is much larger than the Hass but it has a much larger percentage of water than fat and that makes all the difference in taste (and calories).

      The tip on only selecting avocados that have the stubby nib still applies for other varieties as they are all harvested in the same way. I often buy avocados at different stages of ripeness so I can count on at least one being ripe on any given day. Otherwise it is hard to plan on their ripeness. In a pinch you could use the avocado puree available in the refridgerated section of the produce market in your grocery store. That product, combined with fresh avocado works pretty well.

      Reply

  3. Posted by pam on May 10, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    This is one of my favorite foods too. I like to make extra guacamole and use it as a spread on sandwiches/roll-ups, in place of fattier/less healthy choices like mayo. Thanks for the tip on choosing the best ones.

    Reply

  4. Posted by Deb G on May 14, 2012 at 7:45 am

    Use the nub tip and it worked to perfection , perfeclty ripe beautiful avocado for my eating pleasure!!

    Reply

  5. Posted by Peggy on September 2, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    Love you and your posts but why not the Florida avocado?

    Reply

    • Hi Peggy, thanks for your post! I have to say I’m not a fan of the Florida avocado because it has less fat (and that translates to less taste, in my opinion). If I were going to buy one I’d still look for a plug at the stem end. The skin on the Florida avocado is thinner than the skin on the Hass, so that still seems like a good idea to me..

      Reply

      • Posted by Peggy on September 4, 2012 at 5:16 pm

        I gotcha on the stem. That’s a great tip and I no longer get ones with skin openings based on your advice before. I guess I thought I was doing good to get a less fatty avocado since I use “whole” mayonnaise in my guacamole! 🙂 Thanks for all the great advice!!

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