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Avocado Characteristics
Pronounced: a-voh-KAH-doh
The avocado, or alligator pear, is a common evergreen found in Mexico and Central and South America. There are over 400 varieties. The Mexican variety is grown in the San Joaquin Valley of California, the Guatemalan in Southern California and the West Indian in Florida. Pear-shaped or oval fruit are borne 2 to 3 years after planting. Avocados are the highest in producing fruit oil, consisting of almost 30% oil. Filled with enzymes, avocado is a source of fat that is easy to digest. Avocados are about 22% fat, with the average medium size avocado containing 300 calories and 30 grams of fat. Because of its ability to easily combine with starches, it makes a great dip for raw vegetables.

The fruit's name comes from ahuacatl, the Nahuatl word for "testicle," which is assumed to be a reference to the avocado's shape. The two most widely marketed avocado varieties are the pebbly textured, almost black Haas and the green Fuerte, which has a thin, smooth skin.

Purchasing perfect avocados can take some practice; it is a delicate fruit. Avocados can go from being perfectly ripe to over-ripe in a matter of a day. This will result in the oil becoming rancid and mushy, discoloring to an unsightly brown. So we suggest that you buy them unripe and allow them to ripen on the counter. Unripe avocados will be dark green and hard. As they begin to ripen, they turn a dark greenish brown and become slightly soft to thumb pressure. The inner flesh of a ripened avocado will be a gorgeous lime green without any brown spots. The easiest way to remove the flesh is to cut the fruit in half, lengthwise, and twist open. The pit will remain in one side. Remove by imbedding knife into the pit and twisting.

An avocado has a lush, buttery texture and mild, faintly nutlike flavor.


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