What's cooking this week: how to pick a perfectly ripe avocado

Our food editor fills you in on the latest in the world of food and wine

05 November 2020 - 09:39
Did you know avocados are also sometimes called alligator pears because of their shape and the colour of their skin?
Did you know avocados are also sometimes called alligator pears because of their shape and the colour of their skin?
Image: Supplied/SA Avocado Growers Association

A chance meeting with a colleague in a local greengrocer inspired this week’s column. He asked me how to tell when an avocado is ripe and ready for eating.

My advice was to select a fruit whose skin has lost its glow, which is my benchmark of ripeness. Luckily for me, the tip worked, and he reported back that the one I helped him pick was perfect.

What do the experts say? The SA Avocado Growers' Association (SAAGA) suggest you look out for a “ripe and ready” sticker — I haven’t come across many in my time — or to go on colour, which is easy for the Hass or dark-skinned varieties as they turn purple/black when ripe.

Yet when it comes to the green-skinned avos, even SAAGA admits it’s more tricky. They caution against squeezing the fruit as you'll bruise it. Instead, they say, lift the avo into the palm of your hand and, if it yields to gentle pressure, it’s ready.

I’ll leave you with my top tip for ripening avos at home — it works every time: place the fruit in a paper bag with a couple of ripe bananas; the ethylene gas these naturally produce will help to ripen the avos quickly.

No paper bag? Rest your avos on top of ripe bananas in your fruit bowl.

Early December marks the end of avo season in SA and the appearance of pricier imports in the shops, so make the most of the local produce that's freely available now. Click here for hacks to stop cut avos from turning brown, and here for tips on how to freeze them.

Here’s what else has been cooking in the world of food, wine — and my kitchen — this week: