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I'll Tell Ya This For Free: Pickle Your Leftover Avocado
I don’t like to complain, but it wasn’t until I moved to the East Coast that I finally understood why people so often talked about the short shelf life of avocados. It seemed to me, dwelling as I did in the sheltered lap of the Santa Cruz Mountains1, that if you wanted a fresh avocado or two, you had simply to speak to the nearest vendor, paying the agreed-upon price, and take it home, or wherever else you cared to eat it. It wouldn’t last as long as, say, an acorn squash, but you could safely leave it alone for a day or two on the counter and it would be just as good, maybe even a little better, than the day of purchase. And if you didn’t use the whole thing at once, a little lemon juice and saran wrap would keep it in reasonable condition for the next day.
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Not so here – I have, late and at last, been catechized into the avocado problem.2 Saran wrap and lemon juice have the same effect on a cut avocado here that they might on a fresh corpse on a July afternoon. I’ve tried freezing my leftovers, which works kind of okay, but only if I want to use them in a smoothie later, because it messes up the texture.
I’ve tried leaving the pit in, lemon juice, vinegar, wrapping partially in cheesecloth, leaving it bareheaded out of sheer frustration, buying those stupid baby avocados, throwing it in the fridge, and various combinations of all of the above, but the result has been the same: within an hour, maybe two, the flesh browns and begins to curl back from the skin, like the Wicked Witch of the East’s feet under Dorothy’s house.
I am not asking for the moon here. I understand that an avocado cannot be treated like a potato or an onion. I am not seeking eternal life. What I want, and what I believe I am frankly entitled to, is an avocado preservation method that buys me twelve to thirty-six hours of usability after I first cut it up. And at last I believe I have hit upon it:
Pickle your leftover avocados. Don’t do this to a big batch of avocados. This should not become a part of your weekly meal prep, if that’s the sort of thing you do. This is a decent medium-term solution for anywhere from one-quarter to three-quarters of a ripe avocado, so you can peacefully enjoy a few slices with your breakfast without being forced into finishing the rest at lunch.
Here is the method I have hit upon:
One cup vinegar (I used half a cup of red wine vinegar and half a cup of pumpkin vinegar, as it happens, but you could just easily do a cup of apple cider vinegar — maybe cut it with a little sherry or malt vinegar, but let something basic like ACV or wine vinegar handle the heavy lifting)
A tablespoon Diamond Crystal salt
A spoonful of sugar
Half a smashed garlic clove, a few peppercorns, and some leftover basil stems (completely optional, do not knock yourself out here)
One cup boiling water
Combine vinegar, seasonings, and spices with boiling water in a glass container (or a jam jar, or whatever, as long as you can seal it with a lid). Let it cool down for a minute, then add the leftover peeled avocado. It doesn’t really matter whether it’s been cubed or left in halves/quarters, although I will say if you cube it, you’ll probably start to see some little flecks in the brine after twelve hours. The last time I did it, I threw some halved cherry tomatoes in too, because I had about a half a punnet left that was in danger of going bad before I could figure out what I wanted to do with it. It was terrific. The next day I microwaved some frozen rice, thinly sliced some cabbage over it, tossed in my pickled tomatoes and avocado, and topped it with a little canned smoked salmon with chili crisp, and I was in business.
My friend, you have just bought yourself some real, substantial avocado time! As I said, this is not revolutionary — you can’t pickle a few slices on Monday and expect them to retain structural integrity on Friday. But the advantage of submerging the cut avocado completely in a brine is significant, not just because it stops it from turning brown and mummifying, but also for pleasantly pre-seasoning it. Now you can make yourself some respectable avocado toast, or a little single serving of guacamole, out of the leftovers on Tuesday evening, and that’s not nothing.
Daniel lived at a big house in the sun-kissed Santa Clara Valley. Judge Miller’s place, it was called. It stood back from the road, half hidden among the trees, through which glimpses could be caught of the wide cool veranda that ran around its four sides. The house was approached by gravelled driveways which wound about through wide-spreading lawns and under the interlacing boughs of tall poplars. At the rear things were on even a more spacious scale than at the front. There were great stables, where a dozen grooms and boys held forth, rows of vine-clad servants’ cottages, an endless and orderly array of outhouses, long grape arbors, green pastures, orchards, and berry patches. Then there was the pumping plant for the artesian well, and the big cement tank where Judge Miller’s boys took their morning plunge and kept cool in the hot afternoon. And over this great demesne Daniel ruled…
And salad greens! My God, they liquefy in the time it takes you to put away your groceries here. As I said, I don’t like to complain, so please fix this as soon as possible.