Avocados: my own personal green eggs and ham. If you read my blog, you’ll see a trend: When I was a kid, I was the pickiest eater known to man. And I REALLY hated avocados. These days, avocados hold a special allure for me. Especially when become guacamole. Guacamole recipes are a dime a dozen and everybody has their own version. I like the simple and straightforward approach. It puts ripe, nutty, buttery, earthy avocados right up front and center. It accents those avocados with light, bright, sour limes, a subtle amount of spice and tons of floral flavor from habaneros and uses just a hair of cumin and cilantro for that characteristic flavor that just screams Mexico. Ready to make some guac? Then what you need! Let’s make some just spicy enough guacamole.
Good Seeding Results in Good Spiciness
Spicy food frightens some people. If you’re one of them, you might never have tasted just how fruity, citrusy and pleasant hot peppers are. Instead, you probably bit into something spicy and practically died from the heat, unable to taste anything at all! Sound familiar?
Here’s why: The heat that you feel from most hot peppers comes from capsaicin. Capsaicin is a compound that irritates parts of your nasal cavity that perceive flavor. Your brain interprets this irritation as pain. Ever eaten something that was so spicy to you that it was like you couldn’t taste anything else? Also caused by the irritation from capsaicin. In other words, it (probably) isn’t the taste of a hot pepper that you don’t like; it’s the irritation of the capsaicin.
So what can you do to remove capsaicin and use spice effectively? You can seed the peppers!
Inside of a hot pepper, there’s a white membrane-looking thing right next to the seeds. That’s where most of the capsaicin lives. When you seed a pepper, it means that you use a knife and carefully cut that white membrane out, thus removing a great deal of the capsaicin. Remember, less capsaicin = less heat and more of the habanero flavor that really elevates guacamole.
Why Do I Need So Much Lime Juice?
For one thing, it’s tasty as heck! More importantly, though, lime juice has a lot of vitamin C, otherwise known as ascorbic acid. That’s really good for you, and it’s really good for your guacamole. Why?
Like most fruits, avocados have proteins called enzymes that, when exposed to oxygen, start a reaction that turns the flesh of the fruit brown. Why is that bad? We eat with our eyes. Studies show time after time that food that looks more appetizing tastes more appetizing. Brown avocado is far from appetizing. And the second that you cut your avocado it will start to brown, even if you put the pit in it. The ascorbic acid in lime juice DOES stop browning in a flurry of chemical interactions with the enzymes responsible. Lime juice: both tasty and useful!
And now you know! Guacamole is even better when you understand the science behind it! Go take these lessons and use them in this recipe, which is creamy, a little chunky and definitively avocado-y.
- 10 very ripe (but still green) avocados
- Juice from 1 lime, fresh (perhaps one more if you want a smoother consistency)
- 2-3 oz. cilantro
- 1 seeded habanero, 2 if you like spice
- Seed habanero
- Juice the limes
- Chop cilantro
- Cut open avocados and scoop the flesh, along with the habanero, lime juice, cilantro and a pinch of salt into a food processor
- Pulse until well combined, process further if you prefer a smoother guacamole mixture
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