It’s official – Australia is avocado obsessed.
Never before has a fruit (or vegetable) generated so much publicity, from demographer Bernard Salt using smashed avo on toast to explain the housing market, to avocados becoming most photographed food on social media.
Indeed, according to John Tyas, CEO of Avocados Australia, our consumption of avocados has increased by nearly 60% in the past 10 years with us devouring 66,716 tonnes this year alone.
This is in no small part thanks to clever chefs country-wide creating amazing avo dishes, like Urban List’s 2015 #1 Smashed Avo dish at Tom Dick and Harry in South Yarra, Melbourne.
There, it’s served on chia seed toast, heaped with a super grain salad featuring raw greens, feta, corn, currants, fresh herbs, seeds and smoked almonds and topped with pomegranate and edible flowers.
A photo posted by South Yarra Cafe (@tomdickharrycafe) on
More recently, chef Ian Caldwell has created “Summer Avo”, a brand new dish for Collingwood’s Proud Mary’s menu.
He says it is fresh, full of flavour and all about summer with heirloom tomatoes, marinated avocado, sprouting mung beans finished with a salsa verde and goats cheese.
“We use a lot of avocados,” Mr Caldwell says. “Somewhere along the lines of 10 to 15 trays a week.”
That’s about 300 avocados a week – so this guy ought to know about how best to choose, use and store avocados.
“I really like the Hass avocado,” Mr Caldwell says.
Hass are oval in shape (not round like a ball like the Reed or oval like the Shepherd), dark in colour and have a wrinkly skin.
How can you tell when it’s ripe?
Mr Caldwell says choosing a ready-to-eat Hass avocado is simple.
“It needs to be firm with just enough give in them and the skin should be almost purple in colour.”
Avocados only ripen after they have been picked.
Hass avocados change colour when they are ripe from black to a purple colour, while Shepherds are green in colour and stay green when ripe.
For all varieties, gently press the top of the avocado and if it’s soft it’s ripe.
Once ripe, they’re usually perfect for only 24 hours.
How to speed up the ripening process
Avocados are best stored at room temperate until they ripen.
To speed up the ripening process, pop them into a paper bag with a ripe banana for 1-2 days.
To slow down the ripening process, store them in the fridge, then bring them out and ripen at room temperature.
If your avocado has ripened to perfection but you don’t need to use it at that exact moment, pop it in the fridge, but for only 2-3 days for optimum taste and texture.
How to keep them from going brown
The best way to store cut avocados is by drizzling them with lemon or lime juice to slow down the oxidation process, which results in them browning.
Place them in an airtight container or wrap them tightly in cling film. You can then store them in the fridge for 1-2 days only.
The health benefits
According to Australian Practicing Dietician and Culinary Dietician, Karen Inge, avocados are packed with good oils.
“The fat is mainly monounsaturated, similar to what we find in olive oil,” Ms Inge explains.
“Finally, we have finally stopped being fat phobic and are using avocados to replace some of the saturated fat in our diets, like using them as a butter substitute.”
She says they are also an excellent source of Vitamin E and C and folate as well as dietary fibre.
But can you ever have too much of a good thing?
“Yes,” says Ms Inge. “We do need to exert some caution with portion. Simply put, half an avocado a day is about right.”