Avocado (Persea Americana) also known as Alligator Pear refers to a fruit or a large berry that contains a large seed. It is a tree native to the State of Puebla in Mexico which is classified in the flowering plant Lauraceae family along with cinnamom, camphor and bay leaves.
The name Avocado is derived from the Aztec word "ahuacatl". Avocados were known by the Aztecs as 'the fertility fruit'. The fruit is pear shaped, egg shaped or spherical having leather like appearance of its skin. It’s a tall evergreen tree that grows up to 65 feet in height and there are about dozen of varieties of avocadoes, which fall into three main categories - Mexican, Guatemalean, and West Indian.
They differ in their size, appearance, quality. They are valuable fruits cultivated in tropical climate throughout the world. The Hass variety is the most popular type of avocado in United States that has a rugged, pebbly and brown black skin. Another popular type of avocado is the Fuerte, which is larger than the Hass and has smooth, dark green skin and a more defined pear shape.
The creamy rich Hass avocados are generally available throughout the year, they are the most abundant and at their best during the spring and summer in California and in October in Florida. During the fall and winter months you can find Fuerto, Zutano and Bacon varieties. The avocado is yellowish green flesh inside that has a luscious, buttery consistency and subtle nutty flavor.
The skin and pit are inedible. Since about 8000 B.C., they are native to Central and South America and had being cultivated in these regions since than. They were introduced to Jamaica and spread throughout the Asian tropical regions in the mid 1800s. United States (Florida and California), Mexico, Dominican Republic, Brazil and Colombia are the major commercial producers of Avocado.
A ripe, ready to eat avocado is slightly soft but should have no dark sunken spots or cracks and a firm avocado will ripen in a paper bag or in a fruit basket at room temperature within a few days. As the fruit ripens, the skin will turn darker. They should not be refrigerated until they are ripe. Once ripe, they can be kept refrigerated for up to a week.
If you are refrigerating a whole avocado, it is best to keep it whole and not slice it in order to avoid browning that occurs when the flesh is exposed to air. Sprinkling the exposed surface(s) with lemon juice will help to prevent the browning that can occur when the flesh comes in contact with oxygen in the air.
An average avocado tree produces about 1,200 avocados annually. Avocados must be mature to ripen properly. Avocados that fall off the tree ripen on the ground. Generally, the fruit is picked once it reaches maturity; once picked, avocados ripen in a few days at room temperature (faster if stored with other fruits such as apples or bananas, because of the influence of ethylene gas).
Avocados were more expensive in the US than in most other countries, because those consumed in the US were grown almost exclusively in California and Florida, where land, labor and water are expensive. Avocado milkshake with chocolate syrup is one type of beverage served in the Indonesian style.
The fruit is not sweet, but fatty, and distinctly yet subtly flavored, and of smooth, almost creamy texture. It is used in both savory and sweet dishes, though in many countries not for both. The avocado is very popular in vegetarian cuisine, as substitute for meats in sandwiches, dips and salads because of its high fat content.
It is used as the base for the Mexican dip known as guacamole, as well as a spread on corn tortillas or toast or tacos served with spices. Some people enjoy avocado with Marmite on toast. In countries like Philippines, Brazil, Indonesia, Vietnam, and south India (especially the coastal Kerala and Karnataka region), avocados are frequently used for milkshakes and occasionally added to ice cream and other desserts.
A puree of the fruit was used to thicken and flavor the liqueur Advocaat in its original recipe, made by the Dutch population of Suriname and Recife, with the name deriving from the same source. Avocado slices are frequently added to hamburgers, tortas, hot dogs, and carne asada.
Avocado can be combined with eggs (in scrambled eggs, tortillas or omelettes), and is a key ingredient in California rolls and other makizushi ("maki", or sushi roll). Avocados are high in valuable, health-promoting fats. Avocados are a good source of vitamin K, dietary fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin C, folate and copper. Avocados are also a good source of potassium: they are higher in potassium than a medium banana.
The nutritional values per 100 g of raw edible Avocado are:
Energy: 670 Kj (160 kcal)
Carbohydrates: 8.53 g
Sugars: 0.66 g
Dietary Fiber: 6.7 g
Fat: 14.66 g
Protein: 2 g
Vitamin B6: 0.257 mg
Vitamin C: 10 mg
Calcium: 12 mg
Iron: 0.55 mg
Magnesium: 29 mg
Phosphorus: 52 mg
Potassium: 485 mg
Zinc: 0.64 mg