Avocados: Nature’s Butter

by The Gilded Fork

Give me an avocado and I will forego butter forever.
– Anonymous

Foodstuff: Avocado

Etymology: From the Nuahatl (Aztec) ahuacatl, meaning “testicle” or “fruit of the avocado tree”; also referred to as the alligator pear for its green skin and texture.

Area of Origin: Mexico

Description
Suffice it to say we’ve had a lot of fun with this dossier. We’ve always loved the texture and flavor of avocado, but the sassy origin of its name takes it to a whole new level for us.

Avocados are a pear-shaped fruit featured in dishes around the world, from ice cream in Brazil to guacamole in Mexico to sweet drinks in Vietnam and the Philippines. Avocado trees are known as Persea americana, with the fruit itself categorized as Lauraceae. These verdant beauties are not only cholesterol free, but are also rich in monounsaturated fat (15% of the recommended daily allowance), making them a healthy and delicious addition to your cooking; we like to use them as a substitute for butter on our bread. They are also rich in vitamins B, E, K and folate. (We don’t need these excuses, but if they work for you, go for it.)

Avocados are also renowned for their skin-enhancing properties, and are used in numerous beauty products.

The avocado’s reputation as an aphrodisiac is legendary, and it is uncertain which has contributed more to this: The visual of the opened avocado or the etymology of the name itself. Whatever the case, we are happy to promote sensual stimulation of any kind, at any time.

Important note: Avocados should never be fed to non-humans, so refrain from sharing a taste with Fido, Kitty or Tweety. The fruit contains persin, a toxic fatty acid that can be deadly to animals.

History
Archaeologists have discovered traces of avocado cultivation in Mexico dating back to 500 B.C., and domesticated seeds were found buried with Incan mummies from as far back as 750 B.C. When discovered by the Spanish conquistadores, they were huge fans of the fruit itself, but not the name, so they changed it to aguacate. This then became abogado, then avocado in English.

The trees made their way from Mexico to California in 1871 thanks to Judge R.B. Ord of Santa Barbara, and are now grown year-round. The Haas variety was patented by Rudolph Haas in 1935, and quickly replaced the Fuerte in popularity. It is now the most prevalent variety of avocado in the U.S., accounting for more than 90% of the nation’s crop.

Types of Avocados

Haas
The most popular type of avocado, grown year-round and known for its distinctive green skin that turns almost black when ripe. Hass avocados are grown in California, Chile, Mexico, New Zealand and The Dominican Republic.

Other varieties include the Bacon, Fuerte, Gwen, Pinkerton and Zutano.

Purchasing, Storing & Peeling Avocados
Your sense of touch will tell you when an avocado is ready for eating: the fruit should gently yield in your palm, but not be too mushy (a sign of over-ripeness). Note that other varieties aside from the Haas do not necessarily turn black when ripe, so don’t go just by color.

If the avocados you find are not yet ripe, sit them on a windowsill for several days, or place them in a brown paper bag and store them at room temperature.

Note: Once an avocado has been sliced open, it should be sprinkled with lemon or lime juice to prevent the flesh from turning brown.

Avocados can be stored in the refrigerator for several days, or can be puréed and frozen: Add a tablespoon of lemon juice for each two puréed avocados to prevent their color from turning brown and store them in an air-tight container.

To peel a ripe avocado, cut it lengthwise around the seed and rotate the halves to separate. You can remove the seed by lifting it out with a spoon, or if you are really talented, you can strike the seed with a knife and twist it out (this takes some dexterity, so if you mess up don’t sue us). You can then scoop out the flesh with a spoon and either slice or mash it. Don’t forget the lemon or lime juice!

Best Matches
Avocados are a classic match with seafood and meats, but we’ve taken a few twists this month with a dessert and a cocktail for a little fun.

Recipes

Avocado Coconut Pudding
Avocado & Crab Timbales with Tobiko Roe Vinaigrette
Avocado Creme Shrimp
Fields of Gold Cocktail
Multi-Layered Caviar Torte
Shrimp & Avocado Canapes

Resources
California Avocado Commission (www.avocado.org)
Haas Avocado Board (www.avocadocentral.org)

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