There are certain labor-intensive recipe phrases that can make the most diligent cook roll her eyes. "Do I really have to do that?" we wonder. Leave your Do I Really Have To Do That? questions in the comments and they shall be answered, saving us all a lot of needless trouble.
Somehow the notion has gotten out that leaving an avocado pit in a bowl of guacamole, however unsightly, will keep your Cinco de Mayo party favor from turning brown. We turned to our pal Kristen Miglore, senior editor at Food52 (which, in case you've already got Mother's Day on the brain, just launched a shop called Provisions, where you can find super stylish kitchen tools.)
"I've never understood the logic in presenting the pit," Kristen said. "How could the guacamole on one side of the bowl know that there's a pit in the other side?"
A fair existential question! The so-called logic is this: avocados turn brown when exposed to the air. Why?, asks the scientist in you. It's because of an enzyme called polyphenol oxidase. (This is the same bugger responsible for the browning of potatoes, apples, and bananas.) When the enzyme interacts with oxygen in the air, it causes oxidation, i.e., the brown stuff. To prevent your guacamole from darkening, you need to keep it from interacting with the air. An avocado pit in the bowl will prevent only the guacamole directly under it from coming into contact with the air. But there are better ways to deal.
DO keep time on your side. "I try to make a reasonable amount of guacamole that I know won't be sitting out long (about a small avocado for every 2 to 3 people, depending on the spread)," says Kristen.
DO squeeze in some citrus. The acid in citrus won't keep the guacamole from darkening indefinitely, but it will delay the oxidation process (and, it's a perfect foil for the rich taste of avocado). "I mix in a healthy squeeze of lime, which prevents browning (and tastes good!)."
DO use plastic wrap. "If you want to have a backup stash, you can keep extra guac in the fridge with plastic wrap pressed tightly against the surface to keep oxygen from getting in and darkening it." If you try to avoid using plastic wrap in your kitchen, creating another kind of barrier can work. Extra lemon or lime juice pooled on the surface will do the trick, while some cooks suggest a thin layer of olive oil or mayo that you can scrape off before serving.
Bottom line: No, you don't really have to do that. In fact, please don't.
Recipe: Roberto Santibanez' Classic Guacamole
Tweet your lazy cook questions to us @YahooShine #doireallyhavetodothat or leave them in the comments.
Do I really have to let meat rest?
Do I really have to add vinegar to the egg-poaching water?
Do I really have to add olive oil to the pasta water?
Do I really have to sift dry baking ingredients?
Do I really have to hand-wash my knives?