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Avocado

Common Name: Avocado, Alligator Pear (English); Aguacate, Palta (Spanish)

Origin: The avocado probably originated in southern Mexico but was cultivated from the Rio Grande to central Peru before the arrival of Europeans.

Rich and creamy avocados are quite versatile.  You can dice them into salads, stuff them with fillings, or mash them to make guacamole or sandwich spreads.  They’re ripe when they yield to a gentle squeeze.

To open an avocado, just cut it in half lengthwise around the seed, twist the two halves apart, and then pop the seed out with a spoon or knife.  Avocados darken soon after being cut, so serve them right away or sprinkle them with lemon or lime juice to slow the discoloration.  Don’t ever refrigerate, freeze, or cook avocados.

Avocados are fruits that contain 60% more potassium than bananas; they are also sodium and cholesterol-free.
An avocado has a higher fat content (5 grams per serving) than other fruit, but the fat is monounsaturated fat, which is considered healthy when consumed in moderation. Diets rich in monounsaturated fatty acids can reduce total cholesterol levels in the blood and increase the ratio of high-density lipoprotein (HDL, “good” cholesterol) to low-density lipoprotein (LDL, “bad” cholesterol).

Varieties

Bacon avocado

This sweet, smooth-skinned variety shows up in the middle of winter.  It’s not as flavorful as other avocados.

Fuerte avocado = Florida avocado

This is in season from late fall through spring.  It’s not quite as buttery as the Hass avocado, but its flavor is excellent.

Hass avocado = California avocado

This is available year-round and has a rich flavor and creamy texture.  The skin turns almost black when the avocado is ripe, this can camouflage bad bruises.  This is the best variety by far for guacamole, but it turns a bit mushy in salads.

Pinkerton avocado

These peel easily and their flavor is excellent.  One of the best varieties.

Reed avocado

This large, roundish avocado slips easily from the peel, and has excellent flavor and texture.  It will stay firm even when ripe, so it’s not a good choice if you’re making guacamole.

Did You Know?

An avocado is a fruit and not a vegetable! It is actually a member of the berry family.

Avocados got their name from the Spanish explorers. They couldn’t pronounce the Aztec word for the fruit, know as ahuacatl, “testicle,” because of its shape. The Spanish called the aguacate, leading to the guacamole we know today.

Avocados must reach full maturity before they are picked, however, they do not soften on the tree. The tree can actually be used as a storage unit by keeping the fruit on the tree for many months after maturing.