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Avocados 101

Avocados are loaded with goodness, taste and nutrients.

06 Nov 2009

The avocado gets its name from the Latin American Nahuatl ahuacatl meaning "testicle," referring to its shape. It was discovered in Mexico approximately 291 B.C. and the Spanish eventually brought it to England where Sir Henry Sloane gave it its more easily pronounced modern name 'avocado'. Avocado only became a worldwide commercial crop in the early 1900, making its first appearance in SA on a farm outside Durban in 1930 where an Indian farmer planted the first West Indian seedlings.

Choosing avos
Because of all the handling and squeezing going on in the supermarkets, rather buy your avocados rock hard and allow them to ripen at home. This will take from 2 to 7 days, even quicker if you store it in a brown paper bag, away from direct sunlight, with a ripe banana or apple. Look for fruit that have no bruises, are uniform in shape and survive the shake test, if you shake the avo, you shouldn't hear/feel the pip shaking inside.

Types found in SA
The hass is a smallish, roundish or egg-shaped fruit with a thick, green, pebbly skin that changes colour to purple or black when ready to eat. The skin is quite hard, even when the fruit is ripe, so you have to rely on the colour change to know when it's ripe.

The Feurte is a popular SA avocado, and 'out of season' fruit is available year round. It is a medium-sized, pear-shaped, fruit, sometimes with a long, thinner neck. The skin is smooth and thin and stays green coloured when ripe

An American cultivar, the Pinkerton is distinguished from other varieties through it's definite thickish neck. It has thick, rough green skin that stays green when ripe and protects the flesh somewhat from bruising.

The Edranol is an oval fruit with thick olive green, glossy skin with small black speckles (called lenticels).

The Ryan is the least popular of the SA avocado varieties. It's a heavy, egg-shaped fruit with a green, slightly rough skin and large pip

They are so healthy
Because avocados are usually eaten uncooked, they don't lose their high folic acid content, which is recommended for pregnant women and assists the development of the foetus. They're also loaded with a host of nutrients and dietary fibre to help fight chronic illnesses such as heart disease and cancer. And although they were once regarded as bad for the arteries, the avocado is now regarded as a disease-fighter, containing absolutely no cholesterol, and loads of 'good' fat that actually protects arteries.

Eight things to do with avocados

Avocado and bacon frittata

Avocado and citrus salad

Avocado and grapefruit salad

Baked avocado with prawns and white wine dressing

Avocado and roquefort toasted sandwiches

Baked fish with avocado pear sauce

Warm avocado salad with chorizo


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