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Avocado Selection, Storage and Preparation

Delicious green avocados are a nutrient-dense fruit, not a vegetable.  They contain healthy fatty acids, essential amino acids, and more than 20 vitamins and minerals, plus they are a good source of fiber.  They have more potassium than bananas and have the highest protein content of any fruit.  A serving size of an avocado is 1/3 of a medium avocado, or 50 grams.  They can also serve as a fat replacement in baking and are a great substitute for foods that are rich in saturated fat.

Avocado Nutrition:
  • Serving size: ½ cup

    Avocado cut in half with seed still in it.

  • Calories: 117
  • Total Fat: 11 g
  • Saturated Fat: 2 g
  • Total Carbohydrates: 6 g
  • Protein: 1 g
  • Sodium: 5 mg
  • Dietary Fiber 5g
  • Protein 1 g
Selecting:
  • Avocados are highly perishable so unless you plan to use them right away, it is best to purchase them a little under ripe.
  • Gently squeeze the fruit in the palm of your hand. Ripe, ready-to-eat fruit will be firm but will yield to gentle pressure.
  • Avoid ones with bruises, loose skin or the ones where the stem end is showing decay
  • Avoid fruit with dark blemishes on the skin or over soft fruit

    Fresh avocados at a farmers market

  • Pick unripe avocadoes that you can ripen if you plan to serve the fruit in a few days.
  • Keep in mind: Cool temperatures slow down avocado ripening. Room temperatures encourage it.
  • Use the Stages of Ripe to understanding the ripening process and help you determine which avocado is best for you to purchase.
Stages of Ripe:
  • Stage 1: Firm:  Very hard fruit, usually green in color and some fruit may be a darker shade.   Can ripen at room temperature (65°F to 70°F) with good circulation.
  • Stage 2: Pre-Conditioned:  Ready to eat in approximately 3 days if held at room temperature (65°F to 70°F) with good circulation.
  • Stage 3: Breaking:  Pre-ripened fruit/ready to eat in approximately 2 days if held at room temperature (65°F to 70°F) with good circulation.
  • Stage 4: Firm Ripe:  Pre-ripened fruit that yields to gentle pressure.  Good for slicing.  Will be ripe next day if held at room temperature (65°F to 70°F) and can be stored in a refrigerator at 36°F to 40°F for up to one week.
  • Stage 5: Ripe:  Easily yields to gentle pressure.  Is good for all uses and will remain in this conditions for 2 to 3 days if held at room temperature (65°F to 70°F).  Can be stored in a refrigerator at 36°F to 40°F for up to one week.
Handling:
  • Wash your hands in warm, soapy water for 20 seconds and dry them with a clean towel
  • Use a clean disinfected cutting surface and utensils to avoid cross-contamination

    Avocado cut in quarters–showing how to peel skin from a quarter.

  • Thoroughly wash and dry fruit before slicing it.
Cutting:
  • Make sure the avocado is ripe/ready to eat and washed.
  • Carefully cut the avocado in half lengthwise around the seed.
  • Rotate the avocado ¼ turn and cut length-wise around the seed to make ¼-avocado segments.
  • Separate the quarters and remove seed by pulling it out gently with your fingertips.
  • Peel the fruit by sliding your thumb under the skin and carefully peel it back on each segment. Discard the peel.
  • If you are not using the avocado immediately, sprinkle all cut surfaces with lemon juice, lime juice or white vinegar and cover them with plastic wrap against the surface of the avocado to prevent discoloration.
Storage:
  • In refrigerator: To store cut fruit, sprinkle it with lemon juice, lime juice or white vinegar, wrap tightly it in plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container, and then refrigerate it. This will prevent it from discoloring.

    Avocado in Mexican dish

  • Select avocados that yield to gentle pressure with rinds free from dark blemishes. Peel fruit, cut in half and remove pit.
  • Avocados are best frozen as purée – unsweetened for salads and sandwiches, sweetened for other uses. Avocados are not satisfactorily frozen whole or sliced. For a better quality product, add 1/4 teaspoon (750 mg) ascorbic acid to each quart of purée or add 1 tablespoon lemon juice for each 2 avocados.

    Fried avocado with dipping sauce

  • Firm, Pre-Conditioned and Breaking stages of ripe avocados can be held at room temperature (65 °F to 70 °F) in an area with good circulation to continue ripening.
  • Firm Ripe and Ripe stages of ripe avocados can be stored at 36°F to 40°F for up to one week.
Cooking Tips/A Few Ways to Use Avocados:
  • Sprinkle with salt or pepper, eat plain, grilled, pickled or fried.
  • Paired with citrus, garlic, scallions, beans, tomatoes and onions.
  • In scrambled eggs/omelets or as a garnish on eggs
  • Stuffed with your favorite tuna, chicken, vegetable or fruit salad
  • On toast
  • Guacamole or in dips
  • Substitute for mayonnaise, sour cream, shortening, butter, eggs and oils in baking
  • In soups

    Avocado in soup and guacamole

  • Smoothies
  • Ice Cream
  • On salads or in salad dressings
  • Hummus
  • Paired with cocoa for cake, puddings and breads

Eating more fruits and vegetables may be one of the best things you can do for your health

For more information on avocados or other fresh fruits and vegetables contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Office http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/find-your-local-office/  or in Alachua County contact either:  Martha B. Maddox, Family and Consumer Science Agent at mmaddox@ufl.edu

Avocado on Mexican Ceviche

 

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