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Avocados and the “Best Ever” Guacamole

By James Parker, January 7, 2009  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by James Parker
Our super field guy Chuck in an avocado orchard in the Mexican state of Michoacán There is something I’ve observed about guacamole and the people who make it — everyone has the “best ever” recipe and each is as individual as the person who makes it. Mike, the berry buyer here at our national produce office in Watsonville, has a simple, five ingredient recipe he got when he worked at a Whole Foods Market in Santa Rosa, California. Amy, a research and information administrator in Austin, has a “secret” recipe from her grandmother who insisted the spices be fresh — “not the 10 year old stuff in your cupboard.” My personal recipe — which, by the way, is the best ever —  has sour cream to improve the texture. This, according to the Southwest purist, is not “real” guacamole but some fancy-pants California dip that only looks like guacamole. The truth is great guacamole is a matter of taste and like wine, is largely determined by what the person consuming it likes or dislikes.  But all the recipes have one thing in common – they all start with avocados. Also know as an Alligator Pear, the avocado is actually a fruit. Originating in the Americas, the avocado was a large part of the diet of the indigenous people of Central and South America at the time they were encountered by Spanish explorers (who were credited with introducing the fruit to Europeans). Commercial cultivation of the avocado did not happen until the beginning of the 20th century and it wasn’t until the chance discovery of the Hass variety in 1926 that avocado production began in earnest. Mexico is the largest producer of avocados in the world. The next four countries on the list for commercial production are the United States, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, and Indonesia —and you have to add all four together to come close to matching Mexico’s annual output.  In the U.S., California and Florida produce the most fruit. Here in the U.S .most of our avocados come from Mexico, Chile and domestically when in season. The California season starts in December but the peak in production is March, April and May. The season usually lasts until September but it’s hard to know how long the California season will last this year since a reduced crop is expected. The weather, the fires in Sothern California and the water shortage will make a crop about 30% lower than normal. Summer is the season for green skinned fruit out of Florida and we see Hass variety from all three locations in the summer as well. By September Mexico and Chile take over for almost 100 percent of our avocado needs as California finishes harvesting for the year. Chilean Hass avocados — with companions While the varieties produced all over the world number in the hundreds, there are two broad types of avocadoes. The most common commercial variety for sale here in the U.S. has a dark, bumpy skin — a type dominated by the Hass variety. This variety can be produced year round and is coveted for its high oil content and creamy texture. The second type of avocado commonly produced is a green skinned type — these varieties keep their green skin when ripe and commonly have lower oil content. Bacon variety avocados – Los Angeles, California Like most citrus, avocado trees are extremely sensitive to cold temperatures and will not tolerate prolonged periods below freezing. In favorable conditions, though, the avocado tree and fruit are remarkably resilient – needing little in the way of input and having few natural pests. In fact the biggest challenge to bringing avocados to market is weather and the fruit itself,  which like many tropical fruits, need some help to ripen once they are off the tree and must be stored and shipped in a very narrow temperature range to avoid chill damage. Avocados on the tree - Central Mexico The challenge for a grocery store is to keep fruit on the shelves that is ripe enough to eat but not too ripe that it bruises (which will turn the interior black).  It is for this reason that most avocado displays are shallow and the fruit is still firm to the touch. I like to buy my avocados firm to keep from have to cut out and dispose of bruised sections, so I try to get mine a few days before I need them. To finish ripening at home I place them in a bowl with any type of citrus or bananas. Both release ethylene gas which will help the avocado ripen. If you buy a lot of avocados at one time, make sure you check on them every day — avocados generate a lot of heat when ripening so the fruit at the bottom of the bowl will ripen faster that the fruit at the top. Fancy-pants avocado “dip” – Watsonville, California Here’s the recipe for a big bowl of my “best ever” guacamole:
  • 8-10 medium avocados (ripe)
  • ½ pint of cherry tomatoes (grape or regular variety- sliced into small pieces)
  • 3 oz sour cream
  • ¼ red onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 hot pepper (I like Anaheim- finely chopped)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin (or more to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder (to taste
  • Juice of 1 lemon (or 2 limes)
  • Cilantro to taste (or not if you don’t like it)
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
Combine all the ingredients except the tomatoes, mashing first with a fork (or potato masher) and then blend with a firm whisk.  Taste and correct the seasoning and then fold in the tomatoes at the end so they will be intact.  Serve with tortilla chips to lots of opinionated friends. Okay...bring it on. What’s your “best ever” guacamole? Many thanks to Chuck Anunciation and Rodrigo Velasquez for contributing to this post.
Category: Food & Recipes




adrienne says ...
easy breezy: 2 avocados, ripe but not mushy 2 garlic cloves chopped half a small red onion finely chopped juice of half a lime salt and pepper to taste blend in a bowl...best guac ev-ah!
01/07/2009 12:45:34 PM CST
Karen Poulson says ...
My recipe is soooo simple! I use two ripe avocados and mix with 4 1/2 tsp of Wildtree All Natural Guacamole Seasoning mix and refrigerate for 2 hours and VOILA'...the best guacamole ever!
01/07/2009 2:32:46 PM CST
C. Love says ...
4 ripe avocados, 1/4 white onion finely chopped, squeeze of lime juice, salt, chili powder, cumin and a dash of cayenne pepper. Sometimes I add tomatoes.
01/07/2009 6:02:20 PM CST
Anne F says ...
Guacamole from a Texas who knows Avocadoes Garlic Finely chopped red onion cilantro tomatoes cumin salt lime juice Pure simple ingredients with bold impact on flavors
01/08/2009 12:39:04 PM CST
DawnM says ...
AnneF's recipe, minus the garlic, is my standby recipe but here is one a friend prepares that gets rave reviews every time. Consider it a "fancy" guacamole. 2 large chopped avocados 2 chopped roma tomatoes 1/4 minced red onion 1 minced clove garlic 1 TBLS olive oil 1 TBLS chopped fresh parsley 1 1/2 TSP red wine vinegar 4 oz. crumbled feta cheese salt and pepper to taste Combine all ingredients, mix gently. ps--people who hate feta cheese love this guacamole.
01/08/2009 3:29:50 PM CST
Cynthia NYC says ...
My best ever guacamole recipe is the one I buy freshly made at Whole Foods... ;-)
01/08/2009 9:25:13 PM CST
Gilbert Munoz says ...
you guys are making me hungry
01/09/2009 5:45:34 PM CST
cristin says ...
2 avocados juice of 1-2 limes 1/2 jalepeneo minced with seeds salt
01/09/2009 7:13:08 PM CST
Janice says ...
My daughter's favorite "Guac" 2 or 3 avocados, peeled and chopped 2-3 tbsps Pico de Gallo from Whole Foods, of course either mash with fork or whirl in food processor. Serve atop mixed green salad and garnish with crumbled tortilla chips, olives and a sprinkle of cheese. The best!
01/10/2009 2:42:33 AM CST
Californian who also knows says ...
The Texan who knows, using those simple ingredients, is dead on! I would only add that one will find best flavor and least pesticides (presumably) when those ingredients are organic. Cheers!
01/10/2009 11:11:30 PM CST
Sandra says ...
3 - 4 Avocados 2 Tbsp Sour Cream 2 Tbsp Mayo 2 cloves garlic 2 tomatoes, diced 5 - 6 drops red hot salt & pepper Mash avocados, mix in sour cream & mayo. Crush garlic & mix in with red hot. Taste & adjust to liking. Mix all & serve. Best when chilled.
01/12/2009 2:00:22 PM CST
Cindy says ...
This isn't a guacamole recipe, but my favorite thing to do with an avocado is halve it, peel it, remove the pit, and slice off a bit of the round part so it will rest firmly on a plate. Then I just pour some fresh vinaigrette over it and into the hole where the pit was, and eat. You can make the vinaigrette with lime to pick up on the citrus flavor of guacamole. Simple and delicious!
01/13/2009 12:18:51 PM CST
Alex says ...
3 ripe Hass avocados 2/3 jalepeneo- de-seeded & sliced 1 vine rippened tomato- preferrably not hot house (de-seeded) - chopped 1/2 red onion - finely chopped sea salt - generous pinch cilantro -6 or so stalks and leaves finely chopped lime juice gentle squeeze mash with a fork or pulse for a few secs in a processor enjoy!
03/17/2009 11:30:34 AM CDT
Ivan Walters says ...
The "Best Ever" is definitely to use Jason's Guac Starter and Haas Avocados... For 2 reasons... it's super easy, and It ROCKS!
08/04/2009 1:20:12 PM CDT
Ariel Renae says ...
I second that!!! JASON'S GUAC STARTER is the BEST way to make awesome homemade guacamole!!!! Just cut up a few avocados and add the guac starter (its all-natural ingredients!) and it ROCKS!!!! luckily, its available at WHOLE FOODS in Franklin, TN and Green Hills, Nashville, TN :)
01/25/2010 1:16:51 PM CST
Judith Fine-Sarchielli says ...
When I developed and taught at Whole Foods Market Patio Cooking School in Woodland Hills, CA, I was also their Food Coach.I also contributed recipes to this site. One thing I learned from my Mexican cooking teacher was something I have never seen in a recipe for guacamole. Dry the avocado seed and grate it into the other ingredients. It is a somewhat nutmeg-like flavor, a bit spicy, and preserves the guacamole from turning brown. Judith FIne-Sarchielli THE TOPANGA CHEF
01/27/2010 10:34:03 PM CST
franki astrauckas says ...
The 'really ' best guacamole I've ever eaten came from the Whole Foods Market in Cupertino, Ca.. Steven's Creek Road. I would love THAT recipe!! Is that the one you are publishing here? Thank you! franki We have no Whole Food Stores in East Tennessee.... how sad.
01/29/2010 7:20:20 AM CST
Gunn Family says ...
Best Homemade Guac EVER! Mix together Avocado Garlic Tomato Onion Cilantro Lime (fresh) Salt Pepper Cumin Chili Powder YUM!
01/29/2010 11:07:59 AM CST
SAndy Snyder says ...
I have tried many versions of guacamole and my favorite one I have adjusted to make it more healthy without giving up taste so I eliminate any sour cream or mayo. I love the tomatoes but if I am not going to use the whole batch at once I do not use tomatoes, they weep and get soggy. 5 ripe avacadoes Juice of 3 limes, or 1 1/2 Lemon, or combo of lime & lemon juice 1 lardge garlic clove mashed 6 green onions salt to taste 6 to 8 drops favorite hot sauce to taste
02/04/2010 5:26:01 AM CST
Bob Campos says ...
I have a wonderful avocado tree that gives hundreds of fruit every Christmas time. I have had fruit on the tree up to April and they are good. I use a potato peeler to take off the smooth and thin skin and have very good tasting fruit. I am not certain of the kind of avocado I have but I think it is either Fuerte or Zutano. I don't care about the kind it is I just enjoy the fruit and my neighbors enjoy seeing me come to their homes with a bag full for them. Rather than trying to get a seed to grow into a tree, go to a good nursery to get a tree because it takes seven years before you get any fruit. If you try to plant a tree from seed you might waste seven years if it doesn't bear fruit. One year I had over 350 and each over one pound each. You have to keep the tree below 30 feet high or you will have trouble reaching them at the top.
02/19/2010 7:53:37 PM CST
warrington says ...
As for varieties, I've found Gwen to be a reliable Haas alternative. Reed and Bacon are the two green-skinned varieties with the best flavor in my opinion. Lastly and most importantly to my tastebuds, any avocado will be watery and unpalatable if picked too early. So true that good guacamole is in the mouth of the beholder. Most folks I know love to put lemon juice in their guacamole, which is a deal-breaker for me. I prefer to keep it super-simple: avocado, garlic, salt, the latter two to taste. Cayenne for kick if I'm feeling like it. Yum.
10/07/2010 9:45:50 AM CDT
Barbara says ...
I live in Southeast Missouri. Our winters are usually 2 months long but doesnt freeze below 20 above for very long at a time. a day or so, sometimes a week ( rare)The worst part is in Feb. when we have occasional (not every year though) ice storms. Would I be able to grow an avacado tree? And do you need a pollenator tree if you can.
11/02/2010 1:53:38 PM CDT
bepkom says ...
Thank you for your response however growing avocado trees isn’t our forte. We suggest you check with a local natural gardening store. And good luck!
11/02/2010 2:13:28 PM CDT
Larry says ...
May we have the 5 ingredient recipe from Mike in Watsonville,CA?
12/29/2010 6:24:57 PM CST
Alexia says ...
Do u have the other recipes without the sour cream??? Cilantro is a must! Please....
02/04/2011 1:15:50 PM CST