Avocados are the fruit of a tree native to Mexico and Central America. Avocados are very popular in vegetarian cuisine because they make a convenient substitute to meat due to their high fat content (approximately 35g). Used in many dishes, such as guacamole, sushi, milkshakes, ice cream and other desserts for their consideration as sweet fruits.
The avocado has many variations, and is known by names like the fruit of Persea, Americana or Gratissima. Due to the rough exterior, avocados are referred to as alligator pears. The Incas name for the avocado in Chile is Palta. In West Africa, it is known as custard apple, in Spain it is known as Abogado, and in France it is called Avocat. Also, the Aztecs called it Ahuacatl that is derived from the Nahuatl language in which ahuacatl means ‘testicle’ because of the shape of the avocados. Each version of the avocado is different, and generally, it is said that the avocado has distinct horticultural races.
The Californian varieties
Anaheim: hardy to 32 Degrees Celsius, fair flavor, green, large to very large and from June to August.
Bacon: heavy producer, green smooth skin, shaped oval, flavored, watery-mild, and is from November to March.
Fuerte: its shape is pear, has green smooth skin, flavor is mild, it is from November to June, erratic producer, hardy to 28 degree Celsius.
Hass: shape is oval, skin is thick bumpy, emerald green to black, it is from April to October, flavor is rich nutty, alternate bearing and hardy to 28 degree Celsius.
Jim: It has a very good flavor, green smooth skin, small to medium, heavy producer, and it is from September to January, and hardy to 24 degree Celsius.
Mexicola: it has a very good nutty flavor, it is small, has purple skin, heavy producer, it is from August to October, and hardy to 18 degree Celsius.
Nabal: it has an excellent flavor, its skin is green, medium, erratic heavy producer, it is from June to October, and hardy to 30 degree Celsius.
Pinkerton: it has good flavor, small to medium, it is green, heavy producer, it is from December to April, and hardy to 30 degree Celsius. Reed: it is green, has an excellent flavor, medium to large, it is from June to November, and hardy to 30 degree Celsius.
Zutano: it is shaped pear, has green smooth skin, flavored, watery mild, it is from October to March, and hardy to 26 degree Celsius.
Booth7: It has good flavor, green, medium to large, it is from October to December.
Brogdin: It is green, has very good flavor, small to medium, it is from November to February and hardy to 22 degree Celsius.
Choquette: It is green, has good flavor, heavy producer, large to very large, it is from November to January, resists scab disease, and hardy to 28 degree Celsius.
Gainsville: It is green, small, it is from July to August, and hardy to 18 degree Celsius.
Hall: It is green, has good flavor, large to very large, heavy producer, it is from November to January, hardy to 28 degree Celsius.
Lula: It has a thick peel, medium to large, it is green, has good flavor, it is from November to February, a commercial variety, and to 25 degree Celsius.
Mexicola: It has a very good nutty flavor, its skin is purple, small, heavy producer, it is from August to October, and hardy to 18 degree Celsius.
Monroe: It is green, large, it has good flavor, it is from November to January and hardy to 26 degree Celsius.
Pollock: It has very good flavor, light producer, green, large to very large, resists scab disease, it is from July to September, and hardy to 62 degree Celsius.
Simmonsa: It is green, has very good flavor, large to very large, heavy producer, resists scab disease, it is from July to September, and hardy to 62 degree Celsius.
The above descriptions of variations of avocados that are particularly interesting. Indeed. each variation appears to have a unique name and history too.
See also: Avocado varieties for a more complete list
Surprisingly, the avocado is also a complete food. In order to stimulate growth this fruit that is rich in nutrition has fourteen minerals, which also includes copper and iron for your blood. In avocados, there is potassium and sodium, which keeps the body chemically balanced, and the absence of starch and low sugar content makes the avocados an ideal fruit for diabetics or hypoglycemics. Small slices of the avocados keep the sugar balanced. As part of avocado nutrition, the fruit also contains vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E and several vitamin B complex, and it also includes magnesium and phosphorous.
The avocados are a source of antioxidants like vitamin E and C. Avocados like bananas are quite filling due to their density, but they are also a digestible slow-burning fuel, which makes it a replenishing nutrient for athletes. The avocado is also a source for fruit oil and digestible fats, which makes it perfect and also a healthy dip for raw vegetables. It also makes a nutritious baby food when it is blended with other fruit.
Due to its shape and color, it is also called the Alligator Pear. In Mexico and South America, avocados are found throughout the region, and there are about four hundred varieties of this nutritious fruit. If you plan top grow an avocado tree, you must realize that it bears fruit after two to three years. So, you really have to wait, but it’s worth waiting for the fruit to grow.
It is quite difficult to choose an avocado in stores because ripe ones go overripe very quickly. Therefore, it is better to pick the slightly unripe ones and let them ripen on the counter with the bananas. Avocados that are dark green and hard should be purchased, and they become slightly brown and also slightly soft to thumb pressure when they ripen. By cutting the fruit into half lengthwise, the flesh of the fruit can be removed. When it is twisted and it opens from here, the pit easily comes out from one side. With the help of a knife, twist it out from the other side.
Avocado spread can be used instead of butter, and it can also be used as a dip and raw vegetable to replace chips and ranch dressing. This fruit can also be helpful as part of a weight management program. It also has other advantages. It helps to reduce over eating because the high fat content induces a faster feeling of satiation. With its supply of vitamins and minerals, it makes the diet satisfying and wholesome which is conducive to health and to consumption.
In California and Florida Avocados are grown and are available for buying all year. The characteristics of avocados are important to be aware of when buying avocados. There are two main types of Avocados and there is a number of each variety. Avocados differ in shape, size and color and you should know this when you want to buy this fruit.
Some avocados are spherical but most of them are pear–shaped. The most commonly available fruit weighs less than half a pound. Some avocados have leathery textured skin or rough skin while the skin of others is smooth. The color of avocado’s skin is green in most varieties, but some varieties as they ripen may turn brown, maroon or purplish-black. When buying this fruit, you need to keep in mind the different colors that you might also find this fruit in.
In spite of these variations, when Avocados are properly ripened they are of good eating quality and they become soft. The process of ripening takes 3 to 5 days normally at room temperature. This is what to expect after buying them when they are quite firm.
After buying avocados, refrigeration can slow the ripening down. To use avocados immediately, the ones that are slightly soft and yield to gentle pressure on skin should be selected. However, the avocados to be used in few days time should be bought when they are firm and do not yield to squeeze tests.
While buying avocados, it should be remembered that sometimes, on the outside skin irregular light-brown markings are also found. However, generally the markings that are found on the skin of the avocados have no effect on the flesh of it. You should know that the signs of decay of avocados would include cracked or broken surfaces or dark sunken spots in irregular patches. When avocados are being prepared, to avoid the flesh from browning when it is exposed to air, the peeled fruit should be placed immediately in lemon juice.
When buying avocados, the best ones to look for include those that are heavy for their size and have dark sunken spots and which are free from bruises. Avocados that are hard when you buy them should be placed for two to three days at room temperature in a brown paper bag to ripen. During the months from June to August, the harvest is large. On trees, the avocados do not ripen as they take about a week to ripen once they are picked. Avoid avocados that feel mushy.
Avocados are available year-round, with a large summer harvest in June–August. They don't ripen on the trees. Once picked, they take about a week to ripen. When ripe, avocados yield to gentle finger pressure. Avoid avocados that feel mushy. When you buy them, they should be maintained at room temperature, preferably in a paper bag with an apple to shorten the time of ripening of the avocados. To speed the ripening process up after buying them, ethylene gas is emitted from the apple that is placed in the paper bag.
When we buy an avocado for preparation immediately, avocados that yield to gentle pressure should be selected. However, if it has to be used later on in the week, you should look for firm ones.
When avocados are ripened, it is easy to prepare them. You will find it easier to peel this fruit when it is cut into half. You need to peel off the skin with a knife, and remove the seed when you while preparing it. Once peeled, the avocados should be eaten immediately. To retain the green fresh color when preparing, the avocados should be sprinkled with lemon or lime, and placed in a container that is airtight. After storage, if the guacamole turns brown at the top, the top layer should be discarded.
California avocados are easy to prepare, and are flavored and versatile. You can select a ripe fruit if you are ready to eat and enjoy at the same moment or the unripe fruit can be stocked in order to serve it in a few days.
To differentiate between the ripe and unripe avocados for preparing the fruit, there are few things that people should know. In order to help consumers, and to make sure that people get most from the California avocados, the Commission of California Avocados developed the following ripe reminders.
Ripe Reminder One: the best method to know whether the California Avocado is ready to prepare and eat is to squeeze it gently in the palm of your hand. The fruit that is ripe will be firm but will still yield to gentle pressure.
Ripe Reminder Two: the color alone cannot reveal whether an avocado is ready to prepare or eat. Therefore, if an avocado is ripening, it will be dark green or black, but some varieties even when ripe will retain their light green color.
Ripe Reminder Three: in order to speed the process of ripening the fruit, it should be placed in an ordinary paper bag and then stored at room temperature till it is ready to prepare and eat. Usually, this is done for two to five days. Sometimes, you may want to place an apple along with the fruit to help speed up the ripening process.
Contrary to general thinking, peeling a California Avocados for preparation is not difficult. There are also different techniques used for peeling avocados. The California Avocado Commission describes a three-step process for its recommended technique:
Step One: First check whether the avocado is ripe for preparation. If, on the palm of your hand, the fruit yields to gentle pressure, it is ready for peeling. Start to cut the avocado around the seed length-wise, and separate the halves by rotating them.
Step Two: This would include removing the seed gently by using the end of a spoon on the underneath of the fruit, and lifting the seed out. There is one more method of removing the seed, and it involves hitting the seed with a knife. This method is extremely dangerous and should not be attempted under any circumstances.
Step Three: This includes peeling the fruit by facing the cut side lower and removing the skin with a knife or fingers.
Following these above recommended steps for preparing avocados are believed to be helpful, and are said to be standard processes because they have been recommended by the California Avocado Commission.
During the winter season, avocados are abundant and are available in markets in huge quantities. Cooking avocados is very common for many people, and those that use avocados for cooking their availability will also be within their knowledge. The avocados are available in the markets all year round but the main season for it is late winter and early spring.
Some people like the Taiwanese like to have avocados with sugar and milk. The Indonesians, for a cold liberation, like to mix avocados with milk, coffee and rum, and the Filipinos, in order to make a dessert drink, puree the avocados with sugar and milk. The tree leaves of the avocados are used for cooking in certain parts of Mexico. The green and dried leaves of the avocados can be used for seasoning of barbecues and stews, and for wrapping tamales. In a container, which is tightly closed, we can also keep the dried leaves of the avocados for several months.
Since avocados are mostly used in salads, it is considered to be a vegetable for cooking. In markets, it is mostly displayed with the other typical fruits, but it must be remembered that the avocado is actually a fruit that tastes like a vegetable.
The avocado pear and the alligator pear are names that are also given for the avocados because of the pebbly and rough exterior that is common. There are a number of varieties of avocados, but most of the cooks are selective and like a particular breed for cooking.
The avocado grows in groves and this fruit is harvested from tall trees. This fruit has a faintly nutty flavor and it is quite rich and has a pale yellow green flesh. The texture of this pear-shaped fruit is almost like a firm and ripe banana, and it also smooth and buttery. These fruits are mostly grown in tropical climates, such as California, Hawaii, Florida and Mexico.
The avocado is mostly pear-shaped but some of these fruits are almost round in shape. Each of the avocados weight can be from 1 ounce to 4 pounds. The cocktail-sized Avocado is a particular version of the avocado, and it is about the size of a small gherkin that weighs about an ounce. Some of the common types are Bacon, Reed, Hass, Gwen, Pinkerton, Fuerte and Zutano. Most chefs give preference to the Hass variety for cooking.
The creamy and rich avocado is versatile. You can stuff them with fillings, make salads by dicing them, and make guacamole or sandwich spreads by mashing them. One of the drawbacks of the avocado is that it is high in calories and fat. However, the fat is monounsaturated, and is not considered to be all that bad. The avocado can be bruised easily, and this is why grocers who sell them want the customers to buy them off so that the customers can take them to their homes and keep them for ripening at room temperature for a few days.
To cut open an avocado fruit for consumption or cooking, cut it around the seed and make sure it is lengthwise. Then the two halves should be twisted apart, and then with the help of a spoon or knife just pop the seed out of it.
When the avocado is cut, it starts to darken. So, either it should be served right after cutting it open or lemon or lime juice should be sprinkled on it to slow down the process of discoloration.
Production of Avocados
About ten years ago, it was discovered that avocado production required cross-pollination due to certain unique characteristics of its flower structure. So, farmers in the state of Florida keep this fact in mind when planting avocados. There are of course other factors that determine good avocado production of crops. Some of these factors precluding cross-pollination have resulted in more studies into the avocado flower and avocado production, which have enabled scientists to see certain unusual characteristics.
Studies have revealed that the avocado flower has two openings. However, the closed periods between the open periods are quite different with regard to the different groups of avocado flowers in the production process. When we refer to groups, we are actually referring to the different varieties, which have receptive flowers at the same time period during the day. For example, those flowers belonging to class A have their first period of Avocado receptive flowers in the morning and then having another set of receptive flowers in the afternoon, giving off pollen to start production in the afternoon. Class B consists of all the other varieties having flowers of completely opposite behavior. This means that they have their first period of receptive flowers in the afternoon and they shed pollen when the flowers open for a second time the next day.
With regard to class B variety, it is quite well understood that the complete cycle consists of twenty-four hours from noon the first day to noon the second day. However, low temperatures affect some varieties at night, which results in them not opening until the morning of the second day. In this way, they require a forty-eight hour cycle. With regard to Avocado production flowers belonging to the class A variety, the Avocado receptive flowers of the first period, which close at about noon, remain closed to noon the next day. They shed pollen on the second opening; thereby forming a complete cycle that is about thirty-six hours.
It must be remembered that these cycles are affected by extreme weather changes, low temperatures and rainy weather, which delay flower openings. On the other hand, favorable temperature and sunlight make the opening of Avocado flowers faster that aid production. Often, the case is that the weather changes result in overlapping of Avocados flowers for a short time periods. However, this period is long enough if the insects are active enough for production through close pollination. The stigma withers during the first flower opening and in this time there is no pollen from the same variety of the other trees. This brings us to the conclusion that inter planting both varieties of class A and Class B will facilitate cross pollination and result in Avocado production.
There are however exceptions to the rule in which single varieties, such as the Fuerte variety, have had excellent production. This has led many scientists to disprove the idea of interplanting. Further studies have been made in which much importance has been given to the effect of climate on the proper working of the Avocados flowers during production.
The biggest problem relating to the purchase of avocados is storing them. This is because avocados are hardly ever ripe when people want them. It is quite a long process from the time a person chooses avocados till the time they consume them. This is because there is usually a period of which avocados need to be stored.
Many a time it is noticed that people search for the perfect avocados to suit their requirements. On most occasions, the avocados are as hard as stones. On the other hand, on some occasions, they are soft and definitely overripe.
The most important thing to remember is that avocados should be purchased a few days before they are required. An unripe avocado will ripen within four to seven days of storing the fruit. This means that planning should be done in advance in order to ensure eating the avocados in their optimum state and at the right time. The other course of action would be to keep checking the avocados until you find the perfect fruit.
The ripening process for avocados could be sped up if the fruit is exposed to about 10 ppm ethylene for about 25 to 49 days after the fruit is harvested. This refers to the initial period of storing it. If the avocados are subjected to earlier treatment, they will not respond. With regard to ripening avocados when storing them, studies are being conducted in relation to changes in pectin esterase activity and pectin content. If avocados are dipped in latex, the decay might be slowed down when stored at room temperature. If avocados are stored under refrigeration in surface ships and sent to international markets, they do not decay easily. However, the avocados are affected by chilling injury in which the fruit becomes discolored (a dark brown or gray).
Avocados could be safely stored between 40 F and 55 F for a period of up to two weeks. The optimum temperature for ripening is about 60 F if the avocados are removed from storage. If ethylene is removed from controlled atmospheric storage, the marketable life of avocados is prolonged.
If atmospheric pressure is reduced to about 60 mm Hg at refrigeration temperature of 42.8 F, respiration of avocados as well as the production of ethylene, the ripening process is slowed down. If the avocados are removed from storage after 70 days, and stored at 57.2 F, they will ripen normally.
There have even been experiments using calcium treatment that have delayed the avocados from becoming ripe and reduced them from internal chilling. However, this process of storing them has made the avocado less attractive externally and reduced their commercial value. In another study it was found that by dipping avocados in a fungicide and storing them in a plastic bag containing an ethylene absorbent, maintains them for 40 to 50 days at 50 F.
When avocados are waxed and stored for 2 weeks at 41 F, they become ripe only 1 day later than the avocados that are non-waxed. Also, waxing avocados reduces weight loss.