Avocados that refuse to ripen? Turn them into fries

The avocado has a large carbon footprint and extremely seductive texture, so no wonder it has become such an infamous commodity, especially considering it’s often wasted due to a short shelf life. If you’re a climavore who wants to eat for the planet, but avocados are still a must, eat them less often, as a special treat, and use European-grown and organic ones whenever possible.

Most importantly, though, don’t waste them. Avocados labelled as “ready to eat” cost more and are often overripe. That said, it can be tricky to ripen them yourself at home, but if you ever find yourself landed with an inedible, rock-hard avocado, it can still be saved – try ripening it alongside a banana, say –the ethene released by the banana will help ripen any fruit by converting its starches to sugars – or turn it into avocado fries, which are an unexpectedly delicious surprise that can convert an underripe avocado into a fun weekend dish or party piece.

Avocado fries

This recipe was a revelation to me. Sometimes, avocados just don’t ripen and end up going off before they are ready to eat. The last time this happened to me, rather than dispose of the fruit, I chopped it up and added it to a Mexican stew. That led to further research and the discovery of today’s dish. If you are cooking more than one avocado, you won’t need to multiply the other ingredients by the same amount: just add by eye some extra flour, aquafaba (or egg), and breadcrumbs (if you don’t have any stale bread or breadcrumbs, polenta makes a great alternative) – the aim is simply to coat the avocado pieces evenly.

You can season the avocado with lime juice and sea salt and pepper to help maintain its colour and heighten the flavour, but it’s not essential, because the fries can be seasoned afterwards. They are also delicious dressed with a squeeze of lime just before eating.

Firm or under-ripe avocados work best here, but even ripe ones will work, provided they are firm enough to hold their shape. To reduce oil use and save energy, cook the avocado fries in an air-fryer or the oven (especially if it is already in use).

Serves 1

1 firm avocado
2 tbsp flour – I use rye flour for flavour, but any will do
50ml aquafaba, or 1 egg
3-4 tbsp breadcrumbs, or polenta
Oil, for frying – I use coconut

To serve (all optional)
1 lime wedge
Sea salt and black pepper
Your sauce of choice
– chilli, mayonnaise, salsa, say

Peel the avocado and cut the flesh into 1cm-thick wedges. Put these in a bowl, scatter over the flour, then toss gently to coat evenly. Transfer to a sieve and shake off any excess flour, then put in a bowl with the aquafaba (or egg, lightly beaten) and mix gently until evenly coated. Shake off any excess, transfer to a tray of breadcrumbs (or polenta) and toss again to coat.

Set a frying pan on a medium heat and add enough oil to cover the base by 1-2mm. Add the breaded avocado pieces, in batches if need be, and fry gently for three minutes on each side, until golden all over. Transfer to a rack, season and serve with an optional wedge of lime and your sauce of choice.