What is Guacamole?
Wow! As a hispanic female, it is rare that I ever have to explain what guacamole is! Guacamole is a mixture made of avocados (on most occasions, Hauss avocados), chilies, onions, and other various ingredients. While traditionally used as a dip, it is incredibly delicious on practically every meal- I mean, really, every meal.
What is the History?
Okay now this part I really didn’t know. Guacamole originated as a dip from the Aztecs in Mexico during the 1500s (man, what did those guys not know?!) Gourmet Sleouth’s page dedicated to this green beauty suggests that it was called “ahuaca-mulli” which may be translated to “avocado mixture.” The recipe was not much different- still consisting of avocados, salt, and some other delicious ingredients. When the Spaniards began to explore the world, they discovered the avocado and fell in love (but who can blame them?).
The Aztec’s believed that avocados were aphrodisiacs, which probably contributed to the Spanish fascination. Aztecs also loved the fruit because it has the highest fat content of all fruit and this paired with their mainly low-fat diet balanced their daily meals. Once the Spaniards decided to bring avocados back to Spain, the news of the fruit spread like wildfire and voila- you have guacamole served at virtually every party!
If It’s Such a Timeless Recipe, Where’s the Science?
I know what you’re thinking! Alright Ashley, where’s the science? Well let me tell you- there isn’t much of it when it comes to making fresh guacamole. The science-y part of this dish comes from the preventative measures people go through in order to keep their guacamole fresh, longer! You’ve probably been to a party and thought, “Why is the pit of the avocado in the middle of it all?” or “Why did someone put lemon in this?” Boom! Science! That’s why!
The Global Post has a wonderful featured article on the slowing of the oxidative process using lemon (citric acid). Most, if not all, plants and fruits contain an enzyme called polyphenol oxidase. This enzyme singlehandedly contributes to the browning of your favorite fruits and veggies and results from oxygen coming in contact with it. So obviously, the best way to keep your avocados delicious and vibrant green is to limit their contact with oxygen as much as possible. Once added to guacamole (or even just an avocado), the citric acid/vitamin C in the juice creates a barrier between the oxygen and the enzyme in the dish, thus slowing the browning process.
My Goal: The purpose of this lab was to create an amazing guacamole recipe (that did not brown) and effectively used lemon juice and saran wrap to slow oxidative browning of the dish.
-2 teaspoons Kosher salt
-1/2 a cup of fresh lime juice or lemon juice
-1 cup of minced red onion
-5 serrano chiles, stems and seeds removed, minced but we used canned jalapeños because they were easier!
-10 tablespoons cilantro (leaves and tender stems), finely chopped
-1 teaspoon of freshly grated black pepper
-2 ripe tomatoes, seeds and pulp removed, chopped
- Cut the avocados in half. Remove seed. Scoop out avocado from the peel (carefully), and put in a mixing bowl.
- Using a fork, roughly mash the avocado. (The guacamole should be a little chunky- don’t get crazy.) Sprinkle with salt and lemon. The acid in the lime juice will help delay the avocados from turning brown. Add the chopped tomato. chopped onion, cilantro, black pepper, and chiles to the mixture.
- Place plastic wrap on the surface of the guacamole to cover it and to prevent air reaching it. When doing this step, make sure to cover every square inch of the guacamole, don’t just lay the saran wrap around the edges of the bowl! Make sure to press down so that the actual avocado is pressed firmly up against the wrap. This prevents more oxygen from reaching it. (Remember: the oxygen in the air causes oxidation which will turn the guacamole brown.) Then we refrigerated for about an hour until everyone else had finished their food.
Looking back, there isn’t really anything that I would have done differently! I think maybe I would have added a bit of garlic (because I love garlic) but for the most part this recipe is absolutely perfect. The saran wrap and lemon juice both effectively kept the avocado from browning, but I think this also may have been a result from the avocado not sitting out for very long at all.
Thank you to Simply Recipes’ “Perfect Guacamole” recipe because, well, it was pretty perfect.