As the popularity of avocados seems only set to soar higher, we reveal how to cut and slice this deliciously creamy fruit in a safe and straightforward way, as well as giving you tips on how to test for ripeness.
Although it’s technically a fruit, the mild-flavoured avocado is used as a vegetable. Native to central America, there are four main varieties: Hass (considered to be the best), which has a dark, knobbly skin; the pear-shaped, smooth-skinned Ettinger and Fuerte (of which a tiny, baby-sized variety is also available); and the more spherical Nabal.
How to cut an avocado
1. Slice it all the way around
Lay the avocado on its side on your board. Hold your knife in one hand and the avocado steady with the other, ideally in a bridge position so that your fingers will be well away from the blade. Carefully start to slice the avocado through the middle lengthways. In the centre of the thickest part of the avocado, you’ll find that your blade hits the stone and will not cut through it. Keeping your knife in the fruit, start to slowly turn the avocado over so that the blade can run around the stone, cutting all the way around in a line that joins up with where you started.
Put the knife down and pick up the avocado with both hands. With the long incision in the middle, turn the avocado away from you with one hand and towards you with the other at the same time. This will twist the flesh away from the stone and the avocado should come apart in two pieces.
3. Remove the stone
One of the pieces will still contain the stone. The safest way to remove this is to prise it out gently with a teaspoon. Run the spoon around and under the stone until it pops out.
To remove the skin, you can either peel it off with your fingers or use a dessertspoon to scoop out the flesh – run the spoon all the way around, as close to the skin as you can, so that the flesh comes out in one piece.
Lay the avocado flesh on your board, flat side down, and slice, chop or cut it into wedges. Spritz with a little lemon or lime juice to stop them from discolouring if you’re not going to serve it immediately.
How to stop avocado going brown
Stop avocado discolouring by sprinkling over an acid such as citrus juice or vinegar, or if mashing, placing the stone in the mashed avocado will have the same effect.
How to tell if an avocado is ripe
Hass avocados have green skin that turns a very dark purple when ripe. Other varieties such as Pinkerton will be a lighter colour, and the Fuerte avocado skin is green even when fully ripe.
To check for ripeness on any avocado, pick it up – it should feel heavy for its size. Give it a gentle squeeze – it should have a little bit of give in it but shouldn’t be squishy. If it feels very soft, then it’s either overripe or badly bruised.
Another good test for ripeness is to look at the top of the avocado where the fruit would have been connected to the tree. There should be a short round piece of stem, similar to what you’ll find at one end of an orange. Gently try and pull this out with your fingers or thumbnail. If it doesn’t pop out easily, the avocado is unripe and should be left to ripen for a day or two before testing again. If it pops out with very little effort and you can see a light green patch underneath, then the fruit is likely to be ripe and ready to use.
Under or overripe?
If your avocado is underripe but you’ve already cut into it, don’t fret. This chicken & avocado salad recipe suggests griddling and putting them in the oven to soften.
If your avocados are too squishy to slice but too good to waste, try using them in smoothies, guacamole or even baking.
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