I was given some very good advice recently, and whether relating to your current friends, your living situation, your job, your finances or something else, it applies: take what you have right now and learn everything you can from it.

It’s maybe not a very new idea, but its impact is undeniable, even with something simple, like, say, an avocado.

A few weeks ago, I can’t remember if it was on that day we lost all power at work or another afternoon, while Alicia and I were talking, we said something about avocados and how we’d grown to love them over time. I hated the idea of an avocado when I was little—much like the idea of tomatoes and onions and certain types of cheese—but finally at some point I’d had guacamole with tortilla chips and then later, some avocado on a sandwich and eventually in some type of sushi, and I was sold. And that same day we talked about avocados, Alicia came home to one, completely by surprise, and so I declared it great providence or, at least, a sign that I should buy some, too.

I purchased three. There was no rhyme or reason behind the number; I don’t even think there was a special sale going on. I took them, threw them in a plastic bag and into my cart and skirted through the produce section.


Later, at home, I tried to cut into one, planning to re-create On the Border’s guacamole live that I’d seen them make so many times, right in front of me, at the table. And here’s where the learning begins—if the avocado feels firm to the touch, it’s not ripe yet. One avocado in the garbage.

Over a week went by with my squeezing the fruit when I’d pass them, trying to see if they were, finally, soft and at least something like the spreadable consistency I’d seen in real-life demonstrations near a bowl of chips. When they were, with the skin giving a little when I pushed, I sliced them in half long-wise, spooned out the pits and simply scooped out bright green flesh that was as soft as butter that’s been sitting on the counter.

finished guacamole

The resulting guacamole was fine—good, even—a simple blend of tomatoes and onions and lime juice and a jalapeno. It even made an impromptu addition to a dinner-party spread Mother’s Day evening, after it had darkened a little and we stirred it together to make it seem fresher. That was when I learned two more tips from a lovely lady from California:

1) If you leave the pit in the guacamole, it will stay bright green longer and 2) If you’re in a pinch, just combine avocado with salsa, which has most of the things you’d be adding anyway.

The thing about learning cooking is that it’s an awful lot like learning anything else—you gather information, you test, you try—but in this case, with one chief advantage: you get to eat it all in the end.

Adapted from On the Border’s Guacamole Live

2 fresh, ripe avocados
1 lime wedge
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoon tomato, seeded and diced
1 1/2 Tablespoons fresh jalapenos, diced fine
1 Tablespoon red onion, diced fine
1 Tablespoon cilantro, chopped

Scoop out ripe avocados into bowl and mash until chunky. Squeeze lime on top, and then add all the remaining ingredients. Combine until desired consistency. Enjoy.

Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. Risa

    I love making fresh guacamole. Your photos make me want to whip up some today.

  2. dawn

    crunch crunch crunch! that would be the sound of me devouring this with my corn chips. fresh guac is the best!

  3. Jacqui

    i ate an under-ripe avocado last night. and i knew it wasn’t quite ripe yet. but after seeing your photos on flickr, i had to have one.

    here’s a trick for pitting: hack into the pit with a sharp knife so it’s good and jammed in there, then twist the knife. it turns right out and leaves the green goodness untouched.

  4. postcollegecook

    Yummm I love guac!

    I had heard the “leave the pit in the bowl” tip before and tried it many times… but unfortunately it’s a myth (according to my own experiences and a culinary instructor I know).

    What does work to keep it green though is by covering it tightly in plastic wrap. And by tightly, I mean have the plastic wrap touching the surface of the guacamole, so it hugs the inside of the bowl and the pile of guac. That works pretty well.

  5. Lan

    i adore avacodo, so much so that my bff actually bought me an avocado scooper thing from pampered chef. it’s my most prized kitchen utensil. (dorkus, i know).

    more tips:
    to hasten the ripening of avocados, put in brown paper bags and leave in a dark place. should ripen up by end of day. also, to prevent or slow down the browning process, lemon juice. works for apples, works for avocados.

  6. maris

    Funny, I put avocado on my sandwich for lunch and I’m literally staring at the clock waiting for lunchtime.

    Not that 11AM ISNT an appropriate lunch time, of course :)

    I have another avocado at home that I can’t wait to turn into guacamole!

  7. Adam

    I know it’s weird, but when you wrote “one avocado in the garbage” I immediately thought, in a Count from Sesame Street voice: “one. one avocado. AH AH AH….”

  8. lo

    Nothing like some good guac. One of my favorite foods.
    But yes, ripe avocadoes help it out immensely :)

    Adam – I heard the voice too… glad I’m not the only one. *eek*

  9. Shannalee

    Risa – Thanks! I hope you did (and of course now I want some again).

    LOL, Dawn, love it!

    Jacqui – Yes! I was hoping for more good tips like that one. You are my favorite fruits and veggies cook, so thank you!

    PostCollegeCook – Oh, no! How disappointing! Well, I will definitely try the plastic wrap. Thanks!

    Lan – Awesome! For the lemon juice, do you mean I should just add some lemon juice to the guac? Brilliant!

    Maris – And now I’m starving. Your sandwich sounds wonderful!

    Adam – I had to ask Becky what you were talking about, which prompted her to demonstrate. How do I not remember that, with all my years of Sesame Street?

    Lo, Glad you knew what he was talking about, too. Hilarious!

  10. Vicki P

    I am a late discoverer of avocados. I just threw one out that was soft and looked a little gray on the inside. I will definitly try this recipe next time avocados are on sale at Jewel. :)

  11. Alicia

    YAY you tried it! Mmmmm and this recipe sounds delicious. I might just have to try it, if I don’t eat all my avocados before I get the chance. (I’m now in the habit of adding it to every salad and sandwich I make, which is a LOT.)

  12. Tim

    Yes, yes this post caught my eye. And your first experience with testing for ripe avocados makes me laugh cause I have done the same thing which is why I wrote this.

  13. Jenny

    We love our avocados here, too – I buy them green, store them in the fridge and then get out 2 or 3 at a time to ripen (next to the bananas) which does help with the 12-avocados-all-ripe-together problem. They are a staple here, and both kids’ first foods. I make a very tame, slightly lame guac for them. Smushed avocado + Lawry’s seasoned salt. The kids eat it up!!

  14. Shannalee

    Jenny – great idea to stagger the ripening! And btw just between us, I think I like avocado + salt any day of the week.

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