What Food Service Staff Should Know About Avocado Preparation

Avocados star in many restaurants’ signature dishes, drawing in health-obsessed consumers and Mexican-food aficionados alike. But, if the kitchen staff ignores — or is unaware of — proper avocado preparation, safety, and presentation techniques, restaurants risk negative reviews and inspections.

Here’s what food service staff should keep in mind to keep customers healthy and businesses thriving.

Preparation

Scrub Your Hands — and Your Avocados
Always wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling fresh produce, like avocados.

Then, wash your avocados with water only — no soap. Even though customers will not be eating the skin, it’s important to remove any dirt or bacteria that could be transferred to the flesh of the avocado. Dry with a paper towel or clean dish rag for added protection against any microbial remainders.

Separate for Safety
Avoid cross-contamination by designating a specific knife in your kitchen for cutting avocados. Never use it to cut raw meat, poultry, or seafood.

Similarly, do not use the same cutting board for avocados that you use for meats. Commercial kitchens should use nonporous cutting boards, as they are easier to clean and less likely to hide bacteria in crevices. Wash cutting boards with hot, soapy water after use and let them air-dry.

Cooking

Pick the Proper Avocado for Your Purpose
If you’re planning to carve an intricate avocado rose or make thin slices for sushi, you’ll want to use an avocado that’s less ripe and more firm so things don’t get messy. On the other hand, you’ll have an easier time mashing your guac if you use a fully ripened avocado.

Cut Avocados Correctly
Cut the avocado lengthwise, top to bottom, with a sharp knife to avoid creating the wrong kind of finger food. Twist to pry the two halves apart. Remove the pit with your fingers or a spoon.

Remove Brown Spots
Once you have sliced open your avocados, cut away any small bruises and throw away avocados that are brown on the inside or leak fluid. Not only do you not want to serve this hazardous food to your customers, but it can also encourage the rest of your avocados to ripen too early: Overripe avocados produce high amounts of ethylene gas, which encourages surrounding fruits to ripen. This is nature’s way of signaling the change of seasons from plant to plant.

Presentation

Create Visual Contrast
Studies show that plating meals well not only increases the likelihood a customer will eat a larger portion of food but also increases their enjoyment. They’re also more willing to pay more for artistically plated meals. Consider topping guacamole with bright vegetables, like orange bell peppers or red tomatoes.

Sprinkle With Lemon or Lime Juice
Give your avocado zest and preserve its green color by sprinkling a little juice on top. The citric acid in lemons and limes acts as a preservative, slowing oxidation and preventing avocados from turning brown.

Storage

Keep Avocados at the Front of the Fridge
Because walk-in refrigerators are constantly being opened and closed, temperatures are colder toward the back of the unit. Keep your avocados toward the door, since they tolerate warmer temperatures better than other fruits and do not fare well when frozen. You can, however, place avocados in warmer temperatures briefly to help speed up the ripening process.

Separate Fruits and Veggies
You also want to allow plenty of space between your avocados and the other fruits and vegetables in the fridge. Other overripened produce can encourage avocados to ripen too quickly.

Armed with their newfound avocado knowledge, your food service staff will be fully equipped to rake in both revenue and positive reviews.

See more avocado food-service guidelines here.

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