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Everyday Food, Volume 18 December 2004

In addition to guacamole, this smooth, buttery-tasting fruit is good in salsas, salads, sandwiches, and scrambled eggs.

There are many domestic varieties of avocados, but the most common is Hass, grown primarily in California. It is covered with a pebbly, leathery skin, which changes from dark green to deep purple (almost black) as the fruit ripens.

What to Look for
Choose heavy, undamaged fruit. An avocado that yields slightly to pressure is best for slicing and dicing; if pressure leaves a small indentation, the avocado is best mashed. Avoid very soft avocados, as they will be overripe and unusable.

Storage and Ripening
Keep unripe avocados at room temperature. To speed ripening, place in a paper bag with an apple or banana; to stop ripening, refrigerate forĀ up to two days. Once cut, the flesh will brown rapidly. To prevent discoloration, sprinkle cut avocado with lemon or lime juice; if mashed (as in guacamole), press plastic wrap directly onto the surface.

Nutritional Value
Avocados are a good source of folic acid and other vitamins, fiber, and potassium. They are high in fat, but it's mostly unsaturated, or good fat.

How to Cut an Avocado
Cut Around Pit
Place avocado on a cutting board; holding it steady with one hand, use a large, sharp knife to cut all the way around pit.

Twist to Open
Hold cut avocado in palm of one hand; gently twist the top half with other hand to release from pit.

Remove Pit
Place avocado half with pit on board; carefully (but forcefully) whack the blade of a large knife into pit. Twist to remove; tap on pit to release from knife.

Score and Peel
Use a paring knife to dice or slice avocado, without cutting through avocado skin. Cupping avocado, scoop out flesh with a large spoon. To peel an avocado half without scoring it first, simply scoop out the flesh from the skin.

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