Thrown for a drupe: Ubiquitous Hass
avocados provide a taste of California in a tidy package that yields
more culinary delights than guacamole.
Call it whatever you want, but the one
thing that hasn’t changed over the years is its popularity. People have
had a long love affair when it comes to this fruit, or, technically,
drupe. Originally it came from Mexico, sometime between 7000 and 5000
B.C., and it has since been cultivated all over different tropical
regions such as South America.
The treat came to America in 1871, when
Judge R.B. Ord planted three trees in Santa Barbara, Calif. By the
1950s nearly 25 varieties of avocados were being commercially packed
and shipped from California, with the Fuerte accounting for more than
two-thirds of production. Even though the Hass variety was discovered
in the early 1930s and patented by Rudolph Hass in 1935, it was not
until large-scale industry expansion occurred in the late 1970s that it
replaced the Fuerte as the Golden State’s leading avocado.
California is the top producer of
domestic avocados and home to about 90 percent of the nation’s crop.
San Diego County, which produces 60 percent of all California avocados,
is the acknowledged avocado capital of the nation. California avocados
are grown year-round, which means consumers can enjoy their creamy,
nutty flavor any time. Ripe avocados have flesh that yields to gentle
pressure; once ripe they should be refrigerated and used soon after
purchase. To ripen an avocado, let it sit on the kitchen counter a few
days until the skin darkens and you can gently squeeze it. Then
refrigerate and use within a few days.
Today there are more than 500 avocado
varieties, seven are grown commercially in California and the Hass
accounts for 95 percent of the total crop. It’s notable for its pebbly
skin that darkens as the avocado ripens, its year-round availability
and its excellent shelf life. Not nearly as common in these parts are
such varieties as the Bacon, Gwen, Pinkerton and Zutano.
But all carry the same health benefits.
Michelle Gallant, nutritionist for Syracuse University, says avocados
are a good nutritional tool when trying to get healthy. “Avocados are
high in monounsaturated fats that lower bad cholesterol and raise good
cholesterol,” she explains. Avocados are also high in vitamin C,
potassium and magnesium, all of which keep blood pressure down and
Gallant recommends eating half an
avocado several times a week to maintain good health. It’s easy to dice
up an avocado and put it on salad, she says, or try mashing it and
using the green concoction in place of mayonnaise in a sandwich,
blending into a smoothie or just eating as is. Aside from consumption,
an avocado can also be used as a soothing face mask, slathered on your
hands like lotion or placed on your eyelids to reduce puffiness.
Tim Keser, Wegmans produce coordinator
for the Syracuse division, explains that while avocados are a
year-round favorite, sales peak during Super Bowl week because everyone
is making guacamole for their parties. The Hass Avocado Board
anticipated that during last February’s Super Bowl 53.5 million pounds
of guacamole would be consumed, enough to cover a football field more
than 20 feet deep.
In fact, in January, Wegmans was giving
away samples of its Salsa Verde guacamole, a fast and easy variation
that mixes two mashed avocados with a half jar of the grocer’s medium
Salsa Verde. And think beyond the tortilla chip when serving guacamole
as a dip: It’s yummy with baby carrots, sliced cucumbers and even apple
While some might be intimidated by the
avocado’s pit, it’s actually quite easy to remove. Slice through the
fruit lengthwise and carefully twist apart the halves. Whack a butcher
knife into the pit, twist again and lift out. It is possible to grow an
avocado fern from the pit as well. After you remove and wash it, slice
off about a half-inch from the bottom of the pit and place four
toothpicks near the open part. Place the open end in a jar of water,
making sure the toothpicks allow the pit to rest on the rim of the jar
and not fall in. Change the water occasionally and plant in potting
soil when greens start sprouting.
Organic is certainly all the rage these
days, but it doesn’t make sense to pay extra for an organic avocado.
Not only is the level of pesticide use low with this crop in the first
place, but you would be removing and discarding the skin anyway.
The following recipes will help you get started in the appreciation of avocados:
This recipe is from www.recipezaar.com.
1 medium avocado
¼ cup condensed milk
1 to 2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup of ice
Put everything in a blender, puree until smooth and pour into a glass.
Avocados Topped with Ham
This recipe is from www.recipezarr.com.
4 avocados, halved and pitted
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon spiced granular mustard
6 ounces cooked lean ham, diced
12 sage leaves, chopped
Take the halved and pitted avocados and
brush with vinegar. Beat the oil and mustard into the vinegar, and
diced ham and chopped sage. Pile ham on avocados and garnish with sage
Avocado and Blueberry Fruit Salad
This recipe is from www.avocado.org.
1 large, ripe avocado, peeled, seeded, cut in slices
2 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed, picked over, well-drained
2 two medium apples, peeled, cored, seeded and diced
2 cups fresh mango chunks, diced
5-ounce bag mixed baby greens or 8 cups mixed lettuces torn in bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons chopped chives or green onion
2 tablespoons walnuts, toasted and chopped coarsely (see note)
Avocado and blueberry fruit salad dressing (recipe to follow)
Place chopped avocado, blueberries,
apple and mango in medium bowl and toss with 4 tablespoons dressing;
set aside. Toss salad greens in large bowl with remainder of dressing
and distribute evenly on 6 salad plates. Place an equal portion of
dressed fruit/avocado mixture on top of each greens serving. Sprinkle
with chopped chives and toasted walnuts to serve.
Note: To toast walnuts, place nut pieces
in dry skillet over medium-high heat and stir occasionally for about 7
minutes, or until pieces are browned lightly. Remove from heat. Let
nuts cool slightly before chopping and using to garnish salad.
2 tablespoons honey
¼ cup plain nonfat yogurt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ cup fresh orange or grapefruit juice
ı/8 teaspoon salt
ı/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
In medium bowl, mix honey, yogurt, and
cinnamon together until smooth and creamy. Whisk in juice; stir in salt
and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning.