Whether you slice, dice, mash, scoop, spread or simply eat them as is, there’s so much you can do with avocados!
With the local avocado harvest upon us, there’s no excuse not to get your dose of avo goodness every day.
Here in South Africa, and in particular here in my valley, we’re lucky enough to have numerous avo varieties to choose from. Look out for the popular green-skinned cultivars such as the Fuerte, Pinkerton and Ryan, available from March to August, and the dark-skinned, nutty flavoured Hass, available from June to November.
Avos are the ultimate fuss-free ingredient and a tasty, healthy snack – served smothered on toast with a hint of lemon juice; in sandwiches, pita breads or wraps; or used in dips, soups and salads.
Avos are also high in dietary fibre, a great source of Vitamin B5 and virtually sodium-free. In addition, they’re high in monounsaturated fat, earning a reputation for helping to reduce cholesterol levels.
Some fun facts about avocados:
- Avocados are a fruit, not a vegetable
- The avocado is also called an Alligator Pear because of its pear-like shape and green skin
- The majority of South Africa’s avocados are grown in the North Eastern part of the country in the Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces
- Annual production of avocados in South Africa is in the region of 90 000 tons
- South Africa is one of the world’s biggest producers of avocados and ranks amongst the top 3 exporters to Europe
- The avocado originated in the southern part of central America
- Archaeologists in Peru have found domesticated avocado seeds buried with Incan mummies dating back to 750 B.C. and there is evidence that avocados were cultivated in Mexico as early as 500 B.C
- Named ‘The fruit of the gods’ by Central American Indians who worshipped its ability to increase vitality and general well being, these ancient civilisations used the fruit not only as a means of nutrition but also believed it to be an aphrodisiac. Suggestively shaped, the name avocado actually comes from the Aztec word ahuacatl meaning testicle
- The avocado has the highest concentration of dietary fibre of any commonly eaten fruit
- Because of their bountiful benefits, avocados are regarded as part of the world’s elite group of superfoods – foods packed with high levels of vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and other phytochemicals
- It is easy to test an avocado for ripeness: they should yield to gentle pressure at the stalk end but should not feel squashy when cupped in your hands
- The Hass differs from its traditional green counterparts in that its ripeness is determined by the changing colour of its skin. Ripe Hass avocados can be anything from dark green to purple and even black.
- To ripen avocados at home, keep them at room temperature until they are ripe. To accelerate the ripening process, place avocados in the fruit bowl with other fruit (especially bananas), or better still, pop them into a brown paper bag
- It really is so simple to stone and peel an avocado. Cut the avocado in half lengthways, through the skin to the stone and then twist the two halves in opposite directions and gently pull apart. Use a spoon to remove the pip. If only using one half, leave the stone in the unused half to slow down the discolouration process
- To delay browning of a cut avocado, cover the surface of dips, soups and salsas such as guacamole with cling film, pressing it down gently to exclude air
- Never boil, or overcook avocados! Keep cooking as brief as possible to preserve their unique flavour
Keep watching this Blog for some fantastic avo recipes!