I no longer believe I have the “best ever” guacamole recipe. Every year about this time, the search for the ultimate guacamole comes up in the office or the blogosphere and I gather another nugget that raises the bar on my personal concoction.
New ingredients and theories get added or subtracted – things like the right texture (creamy or chunky) or the right balance of ingredients (simple or complicated). Even the question of if putting the pit back in the bowl of guacamole really keep the guacamole from turning brown is a subject of seemingly endless debate.
For some the business of guacamole is a serious, exacting science. For others, you just mash an avocado with a fork and your work is done. I’m somewhere in the middle but my recipe evolves every year. Rodrigo, our office avocado buyer and resident expert, is crazy busy right now. Avocadoes are very popular and demand is strong year round but in January demand really takes off.
This is due in part to very strong, overlapping availability from Chile and Mexico, both of which are producing excellent fruit. But the main reason demand increases in January is football. For the week of the big game, Rodrigo will book more than double the amount of avocadoes shipped in a normal week. This year supplies are much stronger and the fruit is ripening beautifully.
Mexico is the largest producer of avocadoes in the world. In fact, you would have to combine the production of the next four countries on the list of top producers (including the US) to come close to matching Mexico’s annual output. Next on the list for commercial production is the United States followed by the Dominican Republic, Brazil and Indonesia.
Here in the US most of our fruit comes from Mexico, Chile and domestically, when in season. California produces most of the domestic fruit and the season can start as early as December but peak production is later in the spring. Depending on the size of the crop, the US season can last into September. When selecting avocadoes at your store or farmers market, there are a few simple things to look for to avoid fruit that is over ripe.
Touch is the best indicator of ripeness, the fruit should be firm with just a slight give with no overly soft spots. Avocadoes bruise easily when ripe so they should be handled with care. Too soft fruit with wrinkling on the narrow tip is likely overripe and should be avoided. If you can, it’s best to buy firm fruit a few days in advance to avoid the risk of bruising altogether.
Put your firm avocadoes in a bowl with citrus or apples — both produce naturally occurring ethylene gas, which speeds the ripening process.
My current “best ever” recipe has gotten a little simpler:
4-5 medium avocadoes (ripe)
1/3 cup cherry tomatoes (grape or regular variety, interior pulp removed and sliced into small pieces)
1/4 small red onion (finely chopped)
1 hot pepper (jalapeño, seeds removed and finely chopped)
Chopped cilantro to taste 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon chili powder (or to taste)
Juice of 1/2 grilled lime (sliced in half and grilled in a skillet or on the barbeque)
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all the ingredients except the avocadoes and set aside for the flavors to merge. Set aside the pits and roughly mash the avocadoes with a fork, taking care to leave whole chunks. Fold in the rest of the ingredients carefully and correct the seasoning to taste. Return the pits to the bowl and serve.
As always I enthusiastically encourage input — if you have a family favorite recipe or special process that works, please share. My guacamole is better than ever but the “’best” is yet to come.