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Tips for Buying & Ripening Avocados, Bananas and Other Fruit

Dean Pomerleau

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Avocados are one of the most popular sources of healthy monounsaturated fat among CRers. But they can be a expensive, especially to buy them fully ripe, and to make sure they are ripe (and not overripe/rotten) when you want to eat one. It isn't quite this bad, but its close: 






I eat 1/2 an avocado every day, and to make sure I have a steady supply I've developed a system I figured I'd share with people. Plus, my favorite grocery store, Aldi's, has avocados on sale this week for $0.49 each - which is an amazing bargain, so you might want to run right out and stock up. This compares to my local "full service" grocery store (Giant Eagle), where avocados are on "Special Sale!!" this week at $1.50 each (down from the usual price of $1.99)...


The downside of Aldi's avocados (besides being a bit on the small side) is that they sell them rock hard. Many people avoid them because of that, not having the patience to wait for them to ripen (same with Aldi's bananas, which are always quite green, but a lot cheaper than other stores). But I consider underripeness in avocados (and bananas) to be an advantage, since it allows me to control and carefully time their ripening. Here is a photo of the stash of 14 avos I picked up this week at Aldi's, along with the nice ripe half I'll be eating tomorrow (I ate its twin this morning already  :)xyz).





The way I manage to always have a fresh ripe avocado half ready every morning is to store the bunch I've bought in the fridge at 34degF. At that temperature, they seem to stay rock hard virtually indefinitely. The trick is to have a ripening pipeline, and to always remember to take out of the fridge when you consume one (or in my case, the second half of one). In my 62degF basement kitchen, it takes about 5-6 days for an avocado to go from rock hard to silky smooth and creamy. Since I eat half an avocado per day, I keep 2-3 of them out of the fridge ripening at all times. Works like a charm for me. Depending on your fridge and kitchen temperature, and your level of preferred ripeness, you might need to adjust the length of the pipeline, by adding or subtracting an avocado.  I consider an avocado ripe when it gives a bit to a gentle squeeze. Inside the flesh should be a uniform yellowish-green color, like in the photo above (and video below). If for some reason you've got a ripe one you don't want to eat yet, you can put it back in the fridge and buy yourself a couple extra days before it starts to turn brown inside. 


At the bottom is a 10sec video of how to remove the pit from an avocado. I then scoop out the flesh with a big spoon. I store the other half of a ripe avocado, which I'll eat the following day, in the fridge, after wrapping it in plastic wrap to keep it from oxidizing. My favorite way to eat avocado is as a replacement for butter on the 1/3rd ear of corn on the cob I eat daily (from my summer CSA, frozen and vacuum sealed), sprinkled with turmeric & curry spice rather than salt. Here is an article with other tips on avocados, although I didn't find much that was very helpful beyond what I've said above.


I employ this pipeline approach to ripening other fruit and to growing sprouts as well. Here is a current photo of my fruit ripening table:





You can see the two avocados (lower left) between a big papaya (far left bottom), and nine persimmons, one of my favorite fruits, but which are very slow to ripen and which I picked up (along with 15 more stored in the fridge) during my monthly shopping trip to the Asian market.


At the top you can see my banana ripening pipeline as well. The very green ones on the right are from Aldis, where they were $0.29/lb last week (another amazing bargain). They are already quite a bit more yellow now than when I bought them, if you can believe it. I eat 3 bananas a day, so these will last me about 11-12 days. I'll shop again at Aldis in about six days and pick up another week's worth of very green ones to add to the back of the pipeline. In the meantime, the green ones you see here will have ripened - so I'll always have perfectly ripe bananas like those on the left - with brown spots. It just takes a little planning and organization.


One final thing. Someone asked me about my veggie prep and storage method on another thread. Since I chopped a week's worth of 'chunky' veggies this morning, I figured I'd snap a photo of them in the Anchor Hocking 2-gal glass jar I store them in, separated by layers of paper towels to absorb moisture:


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I've taken off the glass top, and the top layer of paper towels, so you can see all the veggie goodness. Buried in the very small print of this CRON-O-Meter screen capture (on in this older and somewhat out of date, but easier to read webpage) is the list of ~35 'chunky' vegetables mixed up in the jar (basically one of everything in the produce isle :)xyz), which I'll eat over the course of the coming week. Not shown is the mix of 'leafy' veggies (incl. kale, turnip greens, mustard greens, spinach, & pre-washed 'spring mix' baby greens) that I will also add to my big daily salad.


Using this pipeline strategy and weekly mega-chopping of veggies, I can eat the same thing every day, minimize prep time, never waste any food (something I'm loath to do), and only have to leave the house (actually the neighborhood - since I run/walk outside) once per week, to grocery shop. Yes, I'm pretty much a hermit...  :unsure:


Anybody else have tips on buying, processing, or eating avocados, bananas or other fruit/veggies they'd care to share?




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I used to buy avocados at the farmers markets here in Santa Barbara for around $1-$1.50 a pound but since the drought prices have about doubled and they're sometimes hard to find at all. For a time I was reduced to finding local people on Craigslist selling excess fruit from their back gardens. However by chance I discovered that a downtown dollar store sells quite large, presumably imported ones for - as you'd expect - one dollar a piece. It works out to about $1.30 a pound which per calorie is quite a deal - one large avocado provides almost 30% of my daily calories. Trader Joes have them at that price too but not as large. 


I use the quartering and peeling method (or halving and peeling with smaller ones) rather than a spoon as if it goes well there's less mess and waste. You can even remove the stone without embedding the knife in it this way - it would break my ceramic knife anyway. 

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