There are few things I like better than guacamole. The flavor and texture are amazing, and it seems you can’t avoid feeling festive when you serve it.
Another thing I’ve noticed, sampling guacamole throughout the US, is that there are often subtle but distinct differences in what goes into it and how it’s prepared.
Along with those differences come some surprisingly strong opinions about what makes for the “best-ever” guacamole. Smooth or chunky? Spicy or mild? Simple or complicated? I’m pretty passionate about my own recipe, which you’ll find below. The one constant among all opinions? The best-ever guacamole starts with ripe, high-quality avocadoes.
The Avocado Forecast
With that in mind, I’d say 2012 was a banner year for guacamole lovers, with more to come in 2013! Avocado production declines in the US and Chile led to a 30% reduction in available US supply in 2011. But that decline rebounded with a vengeance in 2012. By year’s end, nearly 1.5 billion pounds were produced or imported into the US, and the forecast for 2013 projects an increase of 200 million more pounds over last year! Guac lovers, get those big bowls out!
More than half of the avocadoes come from Mexico, with the state of Michoacán being the leading source for the early months of the year. US production (mainly from California) starts to overlap with Mexico later in the spring, followed by Chile and Peru later in the year. These overlaps in availability from different growing regions throughout North, Central and South America are extremely important to securing the best fruit. Lots of supply means we don’t have to stay with one growing area too long. It also means avocadoes should remain reasonably priced throughout the year.
Monitoring the Situation
Avocado trees produce fruit (yep, an avocado’s a fruit) year round but the key to a good eating experience is the avocado oil content. If the oil’s too low the fruit can be watery and flavorless, too high can also be undesirable. That’s why we here at Whole Foods Market’s Produce Team keep a close eye on those avo’s and move from one growing area to another to get the fruit with just right oil content and the very best flavor and quality.
Picking the Best
When I’m buying avocadoes at the store, I try to get them a couple of days before I need them. This way I get firmer, bruise-free fruit that I can soften at home. Ethylene gas (gas produced by other ripening fruit) will speed the ripening process, so if you are in a hurry, place an avocado in a paper bag with a banana, apple or orange. Ripe avocadoes should have a slight give when pressed.
My Best-Ever Guacamole Recipe
My best-ever guacamole recipe has stayed pretty consistent over the years with a few tweaks to how I prepare it:
4 ripe avocadoes
1/4 cup thinly sliced grape or cherry tomatoes (or mangoes if you’re feeling adventurous)
1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
1 jalapeño or serrano pepper, seeds removed and finely chopped
Coarsely chopped cilantro, to taste (I like about a teaspoon and a half)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Juice of one half lime- I grill it in a skillet (it enhances the flavor and warm limes produce more juice- it also smells heavenly)
1/2 teaspoon each cumin and chili powder (or to taste)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Combine all the ingredients except the avocadoes, salt and pepper to give the flavors a chance to meld for a half hour or so. Mash the avocadoes with a fork so there are whole pieces of avocado and then gently fold in the other ingredients. Serve immediately.
The final ingredient for the best-ever guacamole is opinionated friends. In all honesty, while I have my favorite go-to recipe, I’m always on the hunt for new and interesting variations.
If you have a great guacamole recipe, unique variations or secret ingredients please share them in the comments below. There’s no reason the best can’t get even better!
Many thanks to Rodrigo Velasquez for contributing to this post.