We heard a suggestion to pickle unripe avocado slices and we had to try it ourselves.
When we saw a Facebook post that suggested pickling hard avocados rather than waiting around for them to soften, reactions around the office ranged from skepticism to curiosity. But above all, we were hopeful: Waiting for an unripe, hard avocado to turn into creamy goodness is a test of anyone's patience—but what if we could quick-pickle the unripe fruit into something useful?
Using a simple pickling brine, we sliced up some rock-hard specimens (so much easier to find than ripe ones!) and poured the liquid over them. Then, the avocados were left to sit in the fridge all weekend to pickle. We passed them around at our Monday morning editors' meeting to a hesitant bunch of tasters. A few announced "I don't hate them..." while most felt that they just tasted like vinegar. But the bigger issue was time: What good is it to pickle your hard avocados if it takes days? Might as well let them ripen and make toast.
On the second try, we tried something more practical: We only let the hard avocado slices sit in their pickling liquid, in the fridge, for about two hours. This time, many agreed that, while there was still a vinegary bite, the unriped avocados tasted like, well, avocados! Plus, they were softer, without that strange raw flavor that characterizes hard ones.
Our takeaway: A quick pickle (around two hours) makes an unripe avocado slice softer and tastier, transforming it into something you can actually use in the kitchen. As with many pickles, the flavor of the solution does in some ways eclipse the flavor of the fruit itself, but in this case that's a good thing.
While we can't imagine making guacamole from a batch of avocado pickles (too tart!), they could be used as a condiment wherever avocado and pickles might—atop tacos, in a grain bowl, amongst slices of cheddar in a grilled cheese, or slipped into a steaming soup.
So next time you pick up a hard avocado and just can't wait to use it, consider soaking the slices in a quick brine. You might even like avocado pickles enough to shop for hard avocados on purpose!
Would you eat pickled avocado? What other foods have you tried to preserve? Tell us in the comments below!
First photo by author; second photo by James Ransom