Photo by: Jiggs Images
The avocado is a weird and wonderful fruit. The weirdness starts with the name. Sometimes called the butter pear or alligator pear, the name avocado comes from the Nahuatl or Aztecan word ahuacatl. Ahuacatl means testicle, an obvious reference to the shape of the fruit. Ahuacatl can be combined to form compound words like Ahuacamolli (guacamole), avocado (or testicle) soup.
The avocado is a natural anachronism. It appears to have co-evolved with animals that are now extinct. The large size of the fruit and pit indicate that avocados developed as a food source for mega-fauna, such as giant ground sloths. These giant mammals would eat the fruit and disperse the undigested seed in their dung.
Courtesy of Mark Bittman, we have an easier method for peeling and removing the pit of an avocado. Score the avocado lengthwise, all the way around. Grab the two halves of the avocado in either hand, and twist them in opposite directions. Pull the avocado apart. The pit will be lodged in one half. Tap the pit with your knife, just hard enough to embed the edge in the pit. Use the knife to pull out or dislodge the pit. Once the pit is removed, use a spoon to scoop the fruit out of the two halves, leaving the tough alligator skin behind.
Although avocados are at their peak in the Spring and Summer, they are often shipped before they are fully ripe. Growers and retailers expect the avocado to ripen en route and while sitting in produce bins. This means that the avocados at your local grocery store may not be ready to be eaten right away.
There are a few tricks that can help you speed ripen your avocados. I put apples in the bottom of a fruit basket and set my avocados on top of them. Apples release ethylene gas, which speeds up the ripening process. If you need the process to run faster, set your fruit basket in the sun. The heat will speed the release of the gas and step up the ripening process. You can also place your avocados in a paper bag with some apples. The paper bag traps the ethylene gas, leading to faster ripening times.
You will want to use your ripe avocados right away, because they have a tendency to transition from ripe to rotten quickly. In keeping with the weird and wonderful theme, here are three unexpected ways that you can use ripe avocados and a few honorable mentions for future experiments.
In vegetarian chile, avocado can be added before serving to provide a meaty quality to the dish. Note, you don’t want to simmer the avocado with the chile, as this will change its consistency. Rather, add fresh cubed avocado to the bowl and pour the chile over it.
As a pudding: Avocado pudding has quickly become my favorite pre-workout fuel. @CastleGrok and lots of other paleo / primal people that I follow on twitter love this stuff.
There are various recipes. This is my version. Feel free to experiment with the ingredients, proportions, etc.
½ pint of whipping cream
½ teaspoon of vanilla
3 heaping tablespoons of cocoa
¾ teaspoon of cinnamon
Method: Place ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend to the desired consistency (add cream as necessary). Spoon from blender to serving bowls. Cover and refrigerate. As an extra treat, you can add shredded coconut and dark chocolate chips.
½ cup (or more) frozen raspberries
1 cup orange juice
Method: Place ingredients in a blender. Blend to the desired consistency (add more orange juice as necessary).
The utility of the avocado may be the one thing that paleo / primal eaters and vegans agree on. So, here are two honorable mentions, one from each camp.
Paleo / Primal honorable mention: @RogerDeRok‘s concept for a breakfast grenade. One avocado peeled and pitted. One peeled hard-boiled egg. Remove the white from the egg and place the yolk in the space left by the pit of the avocado. Reassemble the avocado and wrap / serve with bacon.
Vegan honorable mention: Vegan Explosion’s avocado pie has lemon lime flavor, cheese cake consistency, graham cracker crust, and chocolate sauce. What’s not to like.
The fun does not have to stop in the kitchen, as avocado’s also make great pets. Meet Patricia – Taryn’s pet avocado plant.
At first, working with avocados may seem a little weird, but they are a wonderful super-food (for detailed nutrition information, you should click here) and are easily incorporated into multiple creative food projects.
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