Avocados are one of the more nutritious fruits you can choose, and the good news is that they are in season now through late summer. California is the main source for these popular berries (yes, they’re a real fruit because they meet the criteria of having a seed and fleshy pulp), where more than 3,000 growers supply fans with this green and sometimes black fruit.
One-third of a medium avocado has 80 calories and contributes nearly 20 vitamins and minerals, according to the California Avocado Commission. They also act as a “nutrient booster” by helping increase the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients like vitamins A, D, K and E.
Is it ripe?
The best way to tell if a California avocado is ripe and ready for immediate use is to gently squeeze the fruit in the palm of your hand. Ripe, ready-to-eat fruit will be firm but will yield to gentle pressure. Color alone may not tell the whole story. The Hass avocado, for example, will turn dark green or black as it ripens, but some other avocado varieties retain their light-green skin even when ripe.
To speed up the process of ripening avocados, place the fruit in a plain brown paper bag and store it at room temperature (65 to 75 degrees) until ready to eat, usually two to five days.
Including an apple or a kiwi fruit in the bag accelerates the process, because these fruits give off ethylene, a natural hormone that promotes ripening. When the avocados yield to gentle pressure, they are ready.
Tip from the California Avocado Commission: The more apples or kiwi fruit you add, the quicker your avocados will ripen. Soft, ripe fruit can be refrigerated until it is eaten and should last for at least two more days.
BLT Stuffed Avocados
From Brooke Burks, The Buttered Home:
I love a good BLT sandwich, but let’s be honest. When we’re trying to eat a tad better, we have to be creative. Aside from taking the bread out of the equation, there are only so many ways a BLT can be made better. But do I have a surprise for you! We got creative and used the freshness of avocado to add to the BLT mixture and combined it with a baked base that results in a buttery-smooth goodness.
2 large avocados, halved and seeded
4 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/2 cup green leaf lettuce, chopped
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Carefully cut the avocados in half and remove the seeds. With a spoon, scoop out half the flesh of the avocados and place in a bowl. Drizzle avocado boats with olive oil and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Bake for 10-20 minutes until remaining flesh is soft and browned. In a separate bowl, mix the scooped avocado with bacon, tomatoes, lettuce, remaining salt, garlic, pepper and lime juice. When avocados are done, spoon BLT mixture into each avocado boat.
2 ripe avocados, mashed
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 cup tomatoes, chopped (cherry or grape tomatoes work well)
1 16-ounce carton cottage cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
Mix ingredients in order. Serve or store in an airtight container. This is best eaten the day it is made. Cook’s note: can remove the cottage cheese and substitute lime juice for lemon juice for a rustic guacamole dip.
Addictive Avocado Tacos
2 large ripe avocados
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons almond milk
3⁄4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil. Whisk together almond milk and olive oil in one bowl. Mix bread crumbs and spices in another bowl. Cut avocados in half and remove the pits. Lay avocado halves skin-side down and cut into 3 equal parts. Gently peel away skin. Dip avocados first into almond-oil mixture, then transfer to the bread crumbs-spice mixture. Use a spoon to coat. Transfer to foil-lined baking sheet and repeat until all avocados are coated. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned on the exterior. While avocados are baking, prepare toppings. When avocados are done baking, remove from oven, place in tortillas and add toppings.
Avocado Deviled Eggs
6 eggs, hard-boiled
1 avocado, peeled and mashed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
Boil six eggs in 2 inches of barely boiling water for six minutes. Turn off the eye of the stove but leave the pan on the eye for 4 more minutes. Cool and split the 6 eggs into halves. Scoop the yolks into a mixing bowl. Mix one well-mashed avocado with the 6 yolks, salt and white pepper. Fill the 12 egg-white halves with this mixture. You will not need mayonnaise because the mashed avocado replaces it. May garnish with parsley, cilantro, pimento, olive slices, snipped chives, etc. Place in the fridge until time to serve.
3 underripe avocados
1 3⁄4 cup white distilled vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 cloves garlic, cut in half or sliced
Sliced jalapeno, optional (remove seeds for less heat or leave them in for more heat)
Add vinegar, water, sugar and salt to a saucepan and heat to boiling. Allow it to boil until the sugar and salt dissolve. Turn off the heat and allow to cool completely. When the vinegar mixture has cooled, cut the avocados in half and remove the seed. Cut each half into 3-4 pieces (the slices need to be kind of thick, about the same as sliced peaches). Add red pepper, garlic and jalapeno to the bottom of a quart-sized jar. Pour the cooled vinegar mixture over the top of the avocados and fill to the top (if more liquid is needed, add more vinegar/water mixed 50/50). Refrigerate for at least three days before eating. Store in the refrigerator.
Savory Tart of California Avocado
1 frozen puff pastry sheet
4 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon tamarind paste
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 Ruby Red grapefruit, peeled
2 ripe, fresh California avocados, seeded and peeled
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
Sprigs of mint, lavender or marjoram for garnish (optional)
Thaw the puff pastry in the refrigerator or on the counter overnight until pliable. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Once the puff pastry is thawed, unfold or unroll it, removing any packaging papers or liners. Cut and shape puff pastry into four 2×4-inch rectangles. Place the rectangles between two layers of parchment paper and two half sheet trays, with one on top as a weight. Place the pastries in the preheated oven and bake until brown and crisp, about 12 minutes. An additional 2 minutes with the top sheet tray and parchment paper removed may be needed to finish even browning and crisping. Set aside and let the pastries cool. While pastries are cooling, create honey sauce by heating honey, tamarind paste and white wine vinegar until warm. Set aside and cool before using. Using a sharp knife, cut between the grapefruit’s membranes to release the segments. Be sure to remove all of the white pith. Set aside. In a mixing bowl, use a fork to mash the avocado with salt and pepper to taste. Spread evenly mashed avocado onto cooled pastry sheets. Top with grapefruit segments, then honey sauce. Garnish with herb of choice.
Chef Charleen Badman of FnB Restaurant for the California Avocado Commission
1/2 lime, juiced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup red pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 cup green pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 cup onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, pressed or grated
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon Sazon seasoning
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 pound ground chicken
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup chicken stock
Heat olive oil on medium high and sauté onion and peppers until almost tender. Add garlic and stir. Add spices and stir. Add ground chicken and salt and pepper. Stir and cook thoroughly. Add flour and stir until chicken is coated. Stir in chicken stock. Reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 15 minutes. While chicken simmers, cut avocados in half and remove pit. Use 3-4 avocados, depending on how stuffed you like them. When chicken liquid is gone from chicken mixture, stuff avocados. Squeeze lime juice over top of chicken. Add your favorite taco toppings.
Deanna Eckenfels, Cook of the Month
**Large avocados are recommended for these recipes. A large avocado averages about 8 ounces. If using smaller or larger avocados, adjust the quantity accordingly.
This story originally appeared in Alabama Living Magazine.