The need to preserve fruits and vegetables, crops, in general, is necessary in most cases. Most of these are seasonal so they will not be easily accessible any time of the year. So consider the scenario where it is in season and you harvest or can access lots of it. Then what will you do to ensure you have some till the next season? That is where preservation can come in and does more than bridge the gap. It also helps avoid losses because the excess supply can lead to rotting and the like. The need to process is also there for lots of personal and commercial reasons. So starting with this article I want to look at ways to preserve and process particular farm produce. In this one, I am discussing the preservation and processing of avocados.
There are many ways you can do this but it is not wise to do it with whole avocados. It is literally impossible to freeze them whole. One method you can use to freeze them is by mashing them up first. You can do this manually or by use of a mixer, blender, or masher (that one used for potatoes). Whilst mashing them up you can add lemon or even lime juice, whichever you can find. This will help preserve their freshness of taste when you eat them later.
Then you put them in airtight plastic bags (ziplock plastic ones would be ideal) – make sure all the sir is sucked out before you freeze. You can also plastic wraps ensuring they tightly hug around the avocados. Afterwards, you can place them in the freezer. This can preserve your avocados for 12 good months. This is my personal favourite method because normally I mash up my avocados before eating them.
There is also a simple variation to the freezing approach. You can just cut the avocados in half and remove the seed. You then place those halves in airtight plastic bags. This can still considerably produce the same outcome as the mashing method.
Important Note: Exposure to oxygen is detrimental to any preservation efforts for avocados that have been cut. That is why the use of airtight ziplock plastic bags, plastic wraps, or plastic containers is imperative. Any exposure will lead to discolouration or rotting.
Pickling is one of the most common food preservation techniques and it can also be used for avocados. To pickle them you will need vinegar, water (not mandatory), and sugar or salt (your choice). You need avocados that have an appreciable firmness – they should not be overripe. So you take the flesh out but you have to dice or slice it. You then add the aforementioned ingredients together and stir till properly mixed. Make sure the sugar or salt are fully dissolved. You will proceed to add that solution to the diced or sliced avocados. You place them in containers or jars that can be closed or covered. Then you put them in a refrigerator – this can preserve them for about 3 days or so.
Avocados can be processed into many things. Common examples are pulp, juice blends or smoothies, and drinks, amongst others.
The processing method is simple and you can even add ingredients of your liking e.g. milk. You cut out the flesh and place it in a blender. You add more ingredients you want e.g. milk, sugar, salt, even other fruits (or vegetables). You then run the blender until the mixture gets to a preferred thickness you like. Juice blends are best served chilled, so after blending you should refrigerate the mixture.
For pastes, you still use the same steps of taking out the flesh and then blending. The major difference is that you add things like gums, spices, water, and thickeners whilst blending. The addition of the thickeners will help achieve that paste finish. Once finished you place in polythene jars and then you freeze at below zero temperatures – something like -18 degrees Celsius.
You use the blending technique once again. Whilst blending you add citric or ascorbic acid. This plays the role of making the enzymes inert or non-reactive. You can also add preferred spices such as garlic or pepper, amongst others. Once the mixture is well blended, you then place and store the mixture in airtight glass or plastic containers or jars. This sauce making approach is somewhat a variation of the freezing method used in preservation.
You are probably wondering but the avocado powder can be added to many things. It can be added to salads, yoghurt, ice cream, soups, gravies, and smoothies. You cut out the flesh into pieces and place them on platforms or trays to dry using the sun. If you have solar driers that would even be faster and more efficient. Once the pieces have completely dried, you can then grind them into powder. The powder will still have to be kept in airtight packages.
Once again you use the blending approach. The variation here is that you will add either fresh juice from an aloe vera plant. You can also add egg white if you want, then you blend till well mixed. You then extract the paste into a container by squeezing say, through a cloth. Once you are done freeze the paste. When you want to use it must be within 3 days.
Avocado can be used for cooking and you can apply it to your skin or hair. You cook the paste under low heat. Once it begins to boil you will notice the oil forming at the top. As this happens continue to stir until the paste is a rich dark green colour. It will turn brown as oil continues to settle at the top. You will use the cloth squeezing method to collect the oil in a container.
So these are methods you can all do at home. They can of course be expanded to commercial scales. I just thought it would be great to share methods of preservation and processing you can do yourself with you.