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Name:

Avocado

Variety:

 

Family

Laurel / Bay leaf

Availability:

Year round

Character:

When fully ripe, the hard flesh will be soft and spreadable, almost like butter once mashed. The flesh is usually deep green near the skin, but lightening to shades of yellow or green towards the stone in the centre.
Types Guatemalan descendants tend to produce warty skins that are green, black or purple, and larger than Mexican descendants, but not as large as West Indian ones;

Mexican descendants can produce the smallest of Avocados with thin purple or black skins and yellowish-green flesh. Leaves of some varieties can be used in cooking;

West Indian descendants tend to produce fruit that is the largest of all Avocados with smooth, glossy, lighter green skins (the term "West Indian" is probably too late to change now, but it is hopelessly inaccurate: this type of Avocado appears actually to have originated on other side of Central America, in lowland areas on the Pacific Coast.) These Avocados tend to be lighter in overall oil content.

Use:

Eaten as part of a salad, on their own or as the principal ingredient in Gaucamole.

Contrary to popular belief, you can freeze Avocado. Not whole or in slices, or in any way that you'd want to use in any kind of "solid" way afterward, but rather as a purée that you can use as a salad dressing, sandwich spread or base for a dip such as guacamole. Start with soft, ripe fruit. Remove the flesh into a bowl, mash with something acidic such as lemon or lime juice (use 1 tbsp per two Avocados). Pack into plastic container with a lid, leave a bit of room at the top for expansion during freezing, and freeze for up to 5 months. Plan to use the purée within 3 days at most after thawing it; if there's a bit of water in it, just tip the container and drain it out.

Quality Points:

Choose a solid avocado with a full neck. For ripe fruit, choose an avocado which will give to gentle pressure in your palm. Avocados are rarely found ripe and soft in the stores. They're ripe when they yield to a gentle squeeze on the rounded end when cradled in your hand. Avoid Avocados where you can sense large soft spots or gaps below the skin: those will be bruises.

Green varieties when ripe will have a dull looking skin that has a velvety feel. Avoid any that are hard or glistening in appearance

Storage:

To ripen at home, put the avocado in a paper bag or warm place in the kitchen. Check daily for ripeness.

Unripe avocados should not be placed in the refrigerator. Ripe avocados should not be placed on the rack as it will put marks on the fruit. Avocados are an ethylene producer. Avoid long term storage next to ethylene sensitive produce. (See ethylene sensitive section) Odours produced by avocados can be absorbed by pineapples. Avoid long term storage next to pineapples. Avocados are susceptible to chilling and freeze damage

Preparation:

To use, cut them in half lengthwise, cutting around the seed. Pry the two halves apart. Use a spoon to get the large pit out of the half that still has it. Use the spoon to then scoop out the Avocado meat. Be aware that they will start to brown from the moment they are cut open, so either serve right away or use some kind of ascorbic acid (e.g. lemon juice) to help slow the browning. Many prefer lime juice as it seems to complement the Avocado flavour without changing it.

Cooking Method:

Avocado will go bitter if overcooked so it must be added at the last minute or in the final stages of cooking in the oven.  If added to soup it must not be reboiled after the avocado is added.  If you're making a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich and have a very soft Avocado on hand, instead of buttering the toast or bread with butter, use the soft Avocado instead.

History:

Avocados have been grown in Central America for a long time, perhaps since 5000 BC. Avocado seeds have been found buried with mummies in Peru dating from the 8th century BC. Aztecs called the fruit "ahuacatl" -- "testicle" -- because of the shape. Perhaps for this reason, it was also regarded as an aphrodisiac.

Nutrition:

Some dieters avoid Avocados, as they are high in fat -- the fat content is about 20%. But, two-thirds of the fat is monounsaturated, which actually benefits your body and your heart in particular.

Avocados are cholesterol free.

Contain good amounts of folic acid, fibre, potassium, and vitamins B6, C and E.

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