Avocado is a fruit obtained from the tree with same name i.e. Avocado tree. The botanical name of avocado tree is ‘Persea americana’ and it belongs to the family of cinnamon and camphor plants. Avocado can be round or pear-shaped, no bigger than a hen’s egg and weighing several pounds. They also come in a range of colors, from dark green and crimson to yellow or almost black. Inside the fruit there is a very large seed surrounded by smooth flesh. Though avocado is a fruit it is not sweet in taste. The subtle-flavor and creamy texture of the fruit makes it a very popular ingredient of avocado recipes such as avocado juice, avocado salad and avocado dip. All these avocado dishes are well-liked in almost all households.
History of Avocado
Avocado was discovered in Mexican state, Pubela around 291 BC. Spanish explorers in ancient times found that avocado dishes are fondly eaten by the Aztecs, hence they brought the fruit to the English cuisine. Though avocados were thoroughly enjoyed by the Aztecs they considered it as a very tasteless fruit as it has no sweet flavor like other fruits. The first commercial cultivation of avocados began in early 1900’s and in 1950 the fruit was first used in culinary world. Since then the commercial and culinary uses of avocado became popular in the entire nation of America. Brazil, Indonesia, South Africa and Australia also have some early evidences of the cultivation of avocados.
Culinary Uses of Avocado
Avocado is believed to be a fatty fruit hence it can easily be substituted in the diets where other fatty foods are not prevailing. In vegetarian diet, avocado is a good source of fats. Avocado dishes are usually subtly-flavored with smooth and creamy texture. This creamy fruit forms the base of various dips and spreads. Various seasonings and spices can be mixed in the avocado dips to provide flavor to the dish. In the list of sweet dishes, avocado recipes are quite popular. It is often included in several ice creams and milkshakes and other desserts. Salads and juices are some other additions to the list of avocado dishes. In savory dishes also avocado is a well-liked ingredient. Avocado dishes are fondly served as side dishes to chicken and meat. Soup and stews also contain avocado as one of the ingredient. Slices of avocado are widely served in sandwiches and on toasted bread as a snack. Even avocado puree has varied uses such as it can be spread in hotdog and hamburger and also used as a thickener in various liqueurs. Sushi avocado dishes are well-liked in international cuisine. Being a fruit, avocado is used for various culinary purposes but it is popularly eaten raw or added to various fruit salads in raw form. Few precautions should be taken while cooking avocado dishes. The fruit contains certain enzymes that lead to the browning of the fruit when cut. Hence, lemon juice should be applied on the flesh of the cut avocado. Also, it should not be cooked for long time as prolonged cooking allows the chemicals to induce in the fruit.
Popular Avocado Recipes
• California roll – This is one of the most popular avocado recipes across the world. It is a kind of sushi that contains avocado as the main ingredient.
• Guacamole – It’s a Mexican dip made with mashed ripe avocados. Tomatoes and garlic along with seasonings are also added in the recipe for flavor.
Avocado and asparagus salad – This is one of the healthiest salads for the vegetarians. Both asparagus and avocado together make the dish nutritious and flavorful.
• Avocado pineapple smoothie- Avocado makes the recipe creamy and smooth. Pineapple gives sweetness to the dish.
• Bacon stuffed avocados – This savory avocado dish is well liked in global cuisines. Stuffed avocado dishes can easily be made due to the shape of the fruit that is ideal for stuffing.
• Avocado tortilla soup- This hearty and healthy soup is a favorite Mexican recipe. Tortilla mixed with the goodness of avocado imparts a delectable taste to the dish.
• Avocado Ritz – It is one of the most popular avocado recipes in South African cuisine. This dish includes shrimps and avocado as the main ingredients.
Cuisines Commonly Making Avocado Dishes
Avocado is considered as a valuable fruit in tropical regions where it is mostly grown. Various Mexican dishes include avocado as the main ingredient. Mexican dips and sauces use this creamy and smooth fruit as a flavoring as well as thickening ingredient. Asian cuisines including Filipino, Indonesian and South Indian cuisines widely use avocado in milk shakes as well as in other sweet dishes. In Brazilian and Vietnamese cuisine, an avocado drink made with sugar and milk is quite famous. Avocado puree is the main highlight of the recipe. Occasionally, chocolate syrup is added to increase the flavor. Ethiopian cuisine is famous for serving avocado multi-layered drink. This drink comprises of various layers of fruit juices including avocados as one of the fruit. Local name for the drink is ‘Spreece’. Ethiopian salads are also the main additions in the list of avocado recipes. Several sandwich, toast and hamburger recipes in Australian and New Zeeland food include slices of avocado along with other ingredients. Southern African food also comprise of numerous avocado recipes including Avocado Ritz. All these uses proved the popularity of avocado recipes across the globe.
Preferred Methods of Making Avocado Dishes
• Baked – Baked avocado dishes are breads, pies and avocado casseroles.
• Boiled – Avocado soups are usually made with this method.
• Pureed – Avocado puree is used as a thickener in various desserts and drink recipes.
• Mixed – Sliced and chopped avocados are fondly mixed in salads.
• Freeze – Avocado desserts quite popular in international cuisine.
• Stuffed – Due to its pear-shaped body, avocados are ideally used for stuffing purposes.
Nutritive Value of Avocado
The flesh of ripe avocado is a highly nutritive ingredient. It has useful amounts of vitamin E, B6 and also supplies vitamin C, riboflavin and potassium and manganese. Vitamin C and E both act as antioxidants and therefore help in preventing the damage of free radicals that lead to certain cancers. Potassium helps to control blood pressure as well as maintain a regular heartbeat and a healthy nervous system. Vitamin B6 is important for the normal functioning of the nervous system. Like olive oil, avocados have high monosaturated fatty acids, which are thought to lower blood cholesterol levels. The avocado has the highest protein content of any fruit.
Buying and Storing of Avocados
It is recommended to buy unblemished and uniform textured avocados. Usually, fresh ripe avocados are not very soft therefore hard avocados should not be considered as unripe. Bruises and soft-spots are the signs of over-ripe fruit. The best way to check the fresh and ripe avocado is to shake the fruit. If it has loose pit then the fruit should be avoided. Ripe avocados should be stored in refrigerator for up to a week. Unripe fruit should be wrapped in a brown paper and kept in room temperature for at least 2-5 days. Unripe avocado once chilled never ripens hence it should not be stored in refrigerator. Leftover avocado dishes should be stored in refrigerator for up to 2-3 days. Cut avocados get discolored very quickly hence they should be used as soon as possible.
Types of Avocado
Avocado is of several varieties that are commonly used for consumption purposes. Few of them are as follows:
• Hass avocado – This is one of the most common varieties of the fruit that is used to make several avocado dishes. It has rich fruity flavor. On the tree, hass avocado is green in color but as soon as it is picked it turns to dark purple or black in color. This variety is available throughout the year.
• Bacon avocado – This variety of avocado is usually available in mid-winters. The color of bacon avocado remains green after the fruit is ripe. This light-flavored fruit is very easy to peel and a well-liked addition to numerous avocado recipes.
• Fuerte Avocado – In Spanish language ‘fuerte’ means ‘strong’ and this fruit gets this name due to its ability to remain intact in cold weather. This variety has creamy and rich flavor with easy to peel skin. Like bacon avocado, fuerte is also a mid-winter fruit and remains green on the tree as well as when ripe.
• The creamy texture of the avocado makes it an ideal choice for first foods for infants.
• “Alligator pear” is the popular name for avocado because it has alligator like skin and outer texture.