The avocado (Persea americana) is a tree, long thought to have originated in south central Mexico, classified as a member of the Lauraceae family of flowering plants. The fruit of the plant, also called avocado (or avocado pear or crocodile pear), is botanically a large berry that contains a single large seed known as a “bone” or “stone.”
Avocado – What is it
Avocados are commercially valuable fruits and are grown in tropical and Mediterranean climates throughout the world. They have a fleshy body with green skin that can be pear-shaped, egg-shaped, or spherical. Commercially, they ripen after harvest. Avocado trees are partially self-pollinating and are often propagated by grafting to maintain predictable quality and quantity of fruit.
Avocado – Origin
Persea americana, or the avocado, possibly originated in the Tehuacán Valley in the state of Puebla, Mexico, although fossil evidence suggests that similar species were much more widespread millions of years ago. However, there is evidence of three possible domestications of avocado, resulting in the currently recognized Mexican (aoacatl), Guatemalan (quilaoacatl) and Antillean (tlacacolaocatl) local races.
The Mexican and Guatemalan creole varieties originated in the highlands of those countries, while the indigenous variety of the West Indies is a lowland variety that ranges from Guatemala, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador to Peru, reaching a wide range of human organisms before the arrival of Europeans. The three separate autochthonous races had probably already intermixed in pre-Columbian America and were described in the Florentine Codex.
The first residents lived in temporary camps in an old wetland eating avocados, chili peppers, mollusks, sharks, birds and sea lions. The oldest discovery of an avocado well comes from the Coxcatlán cave, which dates from about 9,000 to 10,000 years ago. Other caves in the Tehuacán Valley from roughly the same time period also show early evidence of the presence of avocado. There is evidence of avocado use at the Norte Chico civilization sites in Peru at least 3,200 years ago and at Caballo Muerto in Peru from approximately 3,800 to 4,500 years ago.
Avocado – Curiosities
Every once in a while, someone writes to me or asks me at a California Avocado Festival: Is it true that avocado is a fruit, not a vegetable?
1 – Is it a fruit or is it a vegetable?
Confirmed: California avocado is a nutrient-rich fruit, not a vegetable, belonging to the Persea genus in the Lauraceae family. And did you know? Avocado is actually a berry! Avocados are considered a fruit because they fit all the botanical criteria for a berry.
After all, they have a fleshy pulp and a seed. So next time you are presented with the opportunity to have an avocado smoothie, embrace the idea if you haven’t done it before! Be more open to eating avocados in sweeter applications. Think of them as a fruit from now on. They are great in smoothies and desserts. And even in cooking as a fat replacement or as a key ingredient in avocado chocolate mousse. The versatility of the California avocado is only really limited by your imagination.
2. An avocado has more potassium than a banana
A single avocado has 975 milligrams of potassium, while a banana, well known for being loaded with potassium, provides only half, with 487 milligrams per large fruit.
3. They will ripen faster with a banana or an apple around
Speaking of bananas! Yellow fruit, like apples, releases gaseous ethylene, a natural plant hormone. If you store your green avocados in a brown bag with an apple or banana, the gases trapped in the bag will help those green types to ripen more quickly, according to The Haas Avocado Board.
4. Avocados are one of the few high-protein fruits.
An avocado contains four grams of protein, the largest amount coming from a fruit. And it’s a good quality protein to boot. While they don’t contain all of the amino acids required in the body’s protein-building process, they do have all 18 important ones, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Plus, all of that protein is available for the body to use, while some of the protein you can get from meat sources is not.
5. You can swap them into baked goods recipes for butter
The creamy texture and healthy fats make for a surprisingly easy baking substitution. And no, you won’t be making green muffins. In the right proportions, you can ditch the butter and replace it with avocado for healthier chocolate chip cookies, banana bread, and brownies, thanks to these tasty avocado recipes compiled by our friends at POPSUGAR Fitness.
6. You don’t have to eat them to reap their benefits
Nutritional benefits aside, avocados can play a key role in your healthy hair and skin routine. The antioxidants, amino acids and essential oils within an avocado can help repair damaged hair, moisturize dry skin, treat sunburns and even minimize wrinkles, HuffPost Style reported.
Avocado – Culinary Uses
The fruit of horticultural cultivars has a markedly higher fat content than most other fruits, mostly monounsaturated fats, and as such serves as a staple in the diet of consumers who have limited access to other fatty foods ( high-fat meat and fish, dairy products). Having a high smoke point, avocado oil is expensive compared to common salad and cooking oils, and is mainly used for salads or sauces.
A ripe avocado yields to gentle pressure when held in the palm of your hand and squeezed. Meat is prone to enzymatic browning, which turns brown quickly after exposure to air. To prevent this, lime or lemon juice can be added to avocados after peeling.
The fruit is not sweet, but rather has a distinctive and subtle flavor, with a smooth texture. It is used in both savory and sweet dishes, although in many countries it is not for both. Avocado is popular in vegetarian cuisine as a substitute for meat in sandwiches and salads due to its high fat content.
In general, avocado is served raw, although some cultivars, including the common ‘Hass’, can be cooked for a short time without turning bitter. The flesh of some avocados can be rendered inedible by heat. Long cooking induces this chemical reaction in all cultivars.
It is used as the base for the Mexican dip known as guacamole, as well as a spread on toasted or corn tortillas, served with spices. In the Philippines, Brazil, Indonesia, Vietnam, and southern India (especially the coastal region of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka), avocados are frequently used for smoothies and occasionally added to ice cream and other desserts. There it is used as a dessert drink it is made with sugar, milk or water and pureed avocado.