(POSTED: June 17, 2007)
Avocados - An Amazing Fruit
Creamy rich and velvety, the avocado is a tropical fruit commonly mistaken for a vegetable because of its use in savory versus sweet dishes.
Mexico is the largest producer of avocados followed by Indonesia and the United States. California and Mexico produce avocados year-round, although their respective peak seasons are March to August and October to February.
The Hass is the leading variety of avocado produced and most commonly found in Canadian supermarkets. It is recognizable by its pebbly green skin that turns nearly black when ripe. Fuerte, Zutano, Bacon, Pinkerton, Reed and Gwen varieties have green skins that do not change color as they ripen.
The average avocado provides about 322 calories and 29 g of fat. The high fat content should not deter you from enjoying this fruit in moderation. Avocados are low in saturated fat (about 4 g) and contain mostly monounsaturated or “good’ fat. They also contribute fiber, multiple minerals and vitamins as well as folic acid to our diets.
How to shop for avocados:
- Look for fruit that feel heavy for their size
- They should have unblemished skins and yield to slight pressure if ripe
- The Hass variety will turn nearly black as it ripens but other varieties will retain their light-green skin even when ripe
How to ripen avocados:
Avocados are typically shipped while still green and hard to prevent damage during transportation. Since most stores sell them this way, they will need to be ripened after purchase. Place the fruit in a brown paper bag and store at room temperature until ready to eat (2 to 5 days). Including an apple or a banana in the bag will speed up the ripening process because these fruits give off a gas that does so.
How to peel and pit:
- Run a sharp knife around the length of the avocado
- Rotate or twist the avocado halves to separate
- Remove the pit by sliding a spoon gently under it and lifting out
- Peel the fruit with a knife or your fingers, or simply scoop out the flesh with a spoon
- Sprinkle the flesh with a little lemon juice to prevent discoloration
How to store:
Ripe avocados can be refrigerated until eaten, but no longer than 2 to 3 days.
To store cut fruit, sprinkle with lemon juice and refrigerate in an air-tight container for up to 2 days.