Avocado 101

July 29, 2016

Need a quick reference guide when shopping in the market? Here’s your avocado 101

Originally from south-central Mexico (aguacate), the avocado (Persea Americana) is considered a Native American plant. Ninety percent are produced in California.

How to Buy: Avoid dark blemishes or overly soft fruit. If overly ripe, flesh turns dark and loses its delicate flavor. Avocados are best when they give or yield slightly but are still firm. There are over 500 varieties; the top 7 are: Bacon (mid-winter), Fuertes (late fall-spring), Gwen Haas and Haas (year round), Lamb Haas (summer); Pinkerton, (winter), Reed (summer-fall); and Zutano (Sept-early winter). The different varieties have creamy flesh, are light creamy gold to green color, have delicate to nutty taste, and vary from small to large.

How to Use: Best raw or with a sprinkle of lime or lemon or mashed into guacamole with salsa, can also be used to top eggs, mixed in a salad, or as a creamy spread in a sandwich or wrap. Use ripe avocados within 2-3 days, or they will become overripe. Cut in half, remove the seed with a spoon, and slice, dice, or scoop out pulp to mash.

How to Store: Ripe fruit can be stored in the refrigerator uncut for two to three days. To store cut fruit, sprinkle it with lemon or lime juice, or white vinegar and place in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. If refrigerated guacamole turns brown during storage, discard the top layer, or store with parchment paper or plastic wrap in contact with the top to postpone browning.

Health Benefits: 20 essential nutrients: fiber, folate, magnesium, potassium, 13 vitamins, lutein, and beta sitosterol (plant sterol) which helps maintain cholesterol levels. Avocados also contain 3 grams monounsaturated fats per serving.

Smart Shopper: Shop sales and freeze! Wash, seed, peel and puree the flesh with 1 T lemon juice per fruit then store in an airtight container for up to 5 months.

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For more on avocados visit the California Avocado Commission.