Did you know that avocados are a fruit and not a vegetable? The avocado probably originated in Mexico and Central America, where it has been cultivated for thousands of years. The first avocado trees were planted in Florida in 1833. Today, Florida is the nation’s second-largest producer of avocados (California is the largest). Florida avocado season runs from late May through January and is at its peak from June through September.
Most of the Florida varieties have half the fat and two-thirds the calories of the California varieties, making them a good alternative for those who love the flavor but want to reduce the amount of fat in their diets. One medium avocado contains around 17 grams of fiber, almost 7 grams of protein, 1067 mg of potassium, and is rich in Vitamins A, C and E. A quarter-cup of Florida avocado contains about 70 calories and six grams of fat. Avocados are high in monounsaturated fat which can help raise the “good” HDL-cholesterol and possibly help lower the “bad” LDL cholesterol.
When selecting a Florida avocado, look for fruits that are heavy for their size and free of blemishes, with deep green skin. The flesh inside will range from pale to rich yellow with a green tinge. Ripe avocados yield to gentle pressure and have a creamy texture similar to butter or custard. Unripe avocados will ripen when placed in a paper bag on the counter for 2 or 3 days. Once ripened you may store avocados in the refrigerator for several days.
Eating an Avocado
To open an avocado, simply slice in half lengthwise and remove the seed by sticking it with a knife and twisting it so that it pops out. Take a spoon to each half, place it between the peel and the flesh gently scoop out the flesh. To prevent the flesh from browning before it is eaten, sprinkle with lemon or lime juice.
Avocados are versatile and taste great in everything from salads and dip to main dishes. Add avocado chunks to curries or use them to stuff tacos or burritos. They are a great addition to sandwiches or salads.
Questions? Contact Sharon Treen, UF/IFAS Extension, Flagler County Director email@example.com