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Oh, how I love you, guacamole! You’re so creamy, zesty, and festive. Even more, you’re downright delicious on tacos, eggs, sandwiches, baked potatoes, soup, chips, and the list goes on…and on. You are perfect just the way you are.

If this sounds like a love letter, IT IS. Food SHOULD taste scrumptious. And this guacamole rocks my family’s world. To make the best possible guacamole, it’s important to use avocados that are ripe. Certain kinds of avocados will wind up being obscure green or black when they’re ripe, while other types will turn ripe but avoid darkening. Therefore, while color is sometimes one of the indicators for whether an avocado is ripe, a more reliable way to identify if an avocado is ready to make its debut in guacamole is to feel it. If you hold an avocado in your hand and softly squeeze it - without using your fingertips to avoid creating a dark spot on its flesh - a ripe avocado should feel a bit soft, but slightly firm. Avocados that are not ripe will be hard. If an avocado is past its prime/overly ripe, then it may have a dented exterior or not feel slightly firm when squeezed with the hand.

If you cannot find avocados that are ripe, you can buy them firm and store them inside a closed paper bag on your countertop – distant from the sunlight. This will help the avocados ripen more quickly for a few days (I check once a day to see if the avocados are ripe. For one thing, I don’t want them to become overly ripe. Secondly, and most importantly, I can hardly wait to eat them!). You can also add an apple to the same paper bag to make the ripening process even more efficient- thanks to the ethylene gas that the apple releases. If your avocados ripen before you’re ready to use them, you can place them in the refrigerator to halt the ripening process.

So back to the guacamole recipe at hand! Even though the citric acid from the lime delays the rate at which the avocado turns brown/oxidizes, it’s best to serve the guacamole shortly after preparing it. Some people add the pit of the avocado to freshly prepared guacamole to slow down the browning process. But I typically store my prepared guacamole in glass jars with a small opening, followed by putting plastic wrap directly on top of this creamy goodness. For one thing, the small opening in the jar reduces the amount of surface area that’s exposed to air (Avocados contain the enzyme, polyphenol oxidase. When oxygen and this enzyme meet, the avocado oxidizes. If you have a smaller surface area exposed to the oxygen, less guacamole will turn brown). Secondly, the plastic wrap-when pressed right against the guacamole-reduces the amount of oxygen that can reach the guacamole. And then of course closing the lid to the jar helps too (You can see my storage technique below)! If the top layer of the guacamole turns brown in the jar, I simply scrape off the brown layer and enjoy what’s underneath! Using this technique, I can typically store the guacamole in the refrigerator for up to two days. This is a bonus given that my hubby will inevitably be lurking around the kitchen on the second day with the hope of scoring some chips and guacamole. You’re welcome, Colin!

Ingredients: 3 ripe avocados 1 lime, juiced ¼ to ½ cup red onion, diced *1 jalapeño pepper, minced (Seeded-but reserve the seeds) (See cook’s note) 3-4 tablespoons fresh cilantro, minced (Adjust to taste) ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt (Adjust to taste)

* The jalapeño’s vein is the part of the pepper that contains most of the heat. However, the compound, capsaicin, which is what makes the chile pepper spicy, regularly comes into contact with the seeds, making them hot as well. I typically add all of the jalapeño’s seeds to my guacamole to create more heat. However, I add a little at a time, give the guacamole a good stir, and taste test it to see if it needs more spice (It’s easier to add heat to a dish versus trying to make it less spicy after the fact). I also mince the vein of the jalapeño and add it to the guacamole little by little as well.

Directions: 1. Cut each avocado in half and discard the pit. Scoop out the flesh of an avocado half into a medium size mixing bowl. Mash with a fork until there’s a creamy texture (Or until there’s a chunky texture if desired. A potato masher is better for a chunky texture). Repeat this process until the flesh of each avocado half has been mashed in the mixing bowl. 2. Next, pour the lime juice into the mixing bowl containing the mashed avocado and stir with a spoon a few times. 3. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well with a spoon. 4. Adjust seasonings to taste and serve.

Makes around 2 ¼ to 2 ½ cups.

This recipe has been adapted from Chantal Clabrough Blazqez's guacamole recipe (I increased the quantity of the jalapeño in this recipe. I also added the seeds from the jalapeño to generate a bit more heat).

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