Avocado ~ It’s More Than Guacamole

Have you tried an avocado lately?
Avocado on Black Background

Photo credit: 青 晨

Avocado is a green-skinned, fleshy fruit that adorns your grocers’ shelves.  There are many varieties.  They can be pear-shaped, egg-shaped, or spherical and ripen only after they’re harvested.  They are grown commercially in tropical and subtropical climates.  The main avocado producing states are California, Florida, Hawaii, and Texas as well as Puerto Rico.  Globally, avocados are grown in Mexico, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Australia, Israel, Chile, Africa, Spain, and Indonesia.

If you think you don’t like them, give them another chance!  It can take up to 15 times of trying a food to decide if you like it.  Avocado is worth liking because it is great for your health.  It is high in healthy fats (primarily unsaturated) and has more potassium per serving than a banana!  Avocado is also high in fiber and a great source of vitamin A.  Although a nutrient-rich food, avocado is one of the highest sources of fat in the fruit and vegetable groups.  Florida avocado is lower in calories and fat than other varieties.  According to the USDA Nutrient Database, a one-quarter cup of pureed Florida avocado contains 69 calories, 6 grams of fat, 5 grams of  carbohydrate, 1.3 grams of protein, 202 milligrams of potassium, and 3 grams of fiber.

How to Ripen a Florida Avocado

It can be tricky to “time” the ripening of your avocado, but with a few helpful pointers, your Florida avocado will be ready to eat exactly when you’re ready to use it.  To ripen the fruit, leave it on your counter until the skin turns a brownish-green and “gives” a little with a light squeeze.  Ideal temperature for ripening avocado is between 60° and 75°F.  Mature avocado ripen in three to eight days after harvested.  If left out too long, it will start to rot.  Once ripened it can be stored in the refrigerator for several days.  You can accelerate ripening by putting unripe avocado in a brown paper bag.

Guacamole is one of the most common culinary uses of avocado. It is a popular dip or spread used in many recipes or just plain with toast.  Try it with tortillas, flatbread, fruits, salads, vegetables, baked chips, and in place of sour cream on potatoes and other cooked vegetables.

Avocado cut in half

Avocado has a creamy texture.

Avocado has a pleasant, creamy mouth feel and mild flavor which makes it ideal for adding to other food dishes.  It can be used as the main attraction in dishes or hidden to enhance the taste, texture, and nutritional value of other foods.  If after tasting the fruit several times you still don’t like it, you may want to try some different ways to incorporate it into your diet.

Recipes

Click here for this easy Florida broccoli and avocado soup recipe from Florida Department of Agriculture’s Fresh from Florida.  Click here for many more avocado recipes from the FDA’s Fresh from Florida recipe collection.  If you want a sweet treat with a healthy fat, how about chocolate mousse with avocado—you don’t taste the avocado, and the texture is heavenly.

Click here to visit the UF/IFAS Extension EDIS website for more information about avocado.