Great guacamole comes down to one thing: great avocados. Before you select your mix-ins, you have to start with high-quality, flavorful avocados as a base. But these finicky fruits aren't always easy to handle! Today, we're sharing renowned chef (and guac expert) Rick Bayless ' top tips for picking awesome avocados.
Choosing the right type of avocados
Just like you can find dozens of apple varieties, there are actually lots of avocado varieties, too. But the most common are Hass avocados — in fact, more than 80 percent of all US avocados are Hass avocados!
The first Hass avocado was a cross-pollination of two others: The small-but-flavorful Mexican avocado and the large-but-flavorless Guatemalan avocado. Mix those things together and you’ve got a perfectly sized fruit with loads of flavor. The Hass avocado also has the perfect oil content, which makes them cream and easy to mash.
Luckily, you can probably find Hass avocados in your local grocery store. The toughest one is finding one that's ripe!
So, how can you tell when an avocado is ripe?
An avocado reaches maturity after growing for about year — but it's still hard to the touch. Once it's picked, it start to soften. After 5-7 days, it's soft enough to mash into the stuff of guacamole dreams. Allow for some travel time, and yours should be ready to eat within a day or two of purchasing it.
Avocados start ripening at the thinner end; the wider, bulbous end ripens last. To make sure your entire avocado is soft enough to eat, press on that bulbous end. If it gives a bit, it’s good to go!
How to prep an avocado for guacamole goodness
First, slice the avocado open vertically, working around the pit. Once the cut goes all the way around, grab each half in one hand, twist and pull the halves apart.
Next, it's time to get rid of the pit. You can scoop it out with a spoon, or do what the Mexican chefs do: Wedge a sharp knife into the pit, twist to loosen it and lift it out.
Finally, scoop the green flesh out of the hull. Don’t worry about small blemishes — they’ll all be mashed into the guac soon! Now, you're ready to add salt, lime juice and all the traditional (or not-so-traditional) mix-ins.
For three fiesta-worthy guacamole recipes, check out Rick Bayless' new class Mexican Cooking Essentials . He'll walk you through making traditional guac, plus two dips with a modern spin (hint: one recipe has bacon!).