Everyone knows that avocado makes an outstandingly delectable dip for nachos, but people often struggle to come up with other ideas to make the most of this fruit. Yet, avocado is so much more than an exciting accompaniment for chips and other dips – it’s a mini health hurricane for starters! In today’s post we’re taking a look at what avocado has to offer in terms of health benefits, what to look out for when buying avocados, and how to store them… as well as touching on other things.
High fat content, but still healthy
The avocado is not a vegetable (as you could be forgiven for assuming), but actually a fruit that belongs to the laurel family, alongside its cousins bay, cinnamon and camphor. Its high fat content might well have earned it the name “butter fruit”, but there’s no need to avoid these pear-shaped wonders – quite the opposite in fact: the fats in avocados are unsaturated and are very healthy. Avocados are good news for anyone with high cholesterol because they do not contain even a trace of cholesterol; rather, if eaten when perfectly ripe, they can even help to reduce cholesterol levels. On top of this, they provide plenty of essential vitamins, such as A, B, C and E, and are rich in potassium, calcium and iron. So there’s very good reason to tuck in some avocado without delay – your body will thank you for it!
Not all avocados are the same
As with many fruits and vegetables, avocados present themselves in various types that differ in appearance, firmness and taste. The most famous varieties of avacados across the world are “Fuerte” and “Hass” avocados, and here’s a brief explanation of their differences:
- Tend to be small and oval-shaped
- Have a rich and nutty flavour
- Have a thick purplish-black skin, and an uneven texture
- Are pear-shaped and have a neck
- Have a mild, creamy taste
- Have a smooth, green skin
When is an avocado ready to eat? Some ripeness tips…
Anyone who has ever bought an avocado will have wondered how to tell if it is fresh or ripe. There is no single answer to this question, because it all depends on the variety. For example, take the Fuerte and Hass avocados:
If you decide to buy a Hass avocado, remember this: as the avocado ripens, its colour will change from green to black; a ripe fruit will give slightly when gently pressed; and, if the avocado is wrinkled, it is overripe.
Another tip: it best not to buy a Hass avocado that is already black, because you have no way of knowing how long it has been this colour, and it may already be overripe.
In contrast to the Hass, you can tell how ripe a Fuerte avocado is simply by looking at it. As soon as black areas appear on the green skin, the fruit is spoiled and is no longer edible. Never leave a Fuerte avocado until it turns black!
The same ripeness test applies to all these lesser-known varieties: Pick up the avocado and, if it gives slightly when gently pressed, it is ready to eat. Whether ripe or unripe, all these varieties have a green skin.
How to store avocados
If an avocado is not yet ripe, you can store it, unrefrigerated, at normal room temperature, which will encourage the ripening process. As soon as the avocado is ripe, place it in the fridge, where it will stay fresh for up to 12 days.
You should take your avocado out of the fridge about one hour before you need it, as it will be easier to prepare.
And, if you don’t want to use the whole avocado at once, leave the stone in the second half and drizzle a little lemon juice over it to prevent any unappealing brown spots developing and stop it spoiling too quickly. Cover the avocado half with cling film, put it back in the fridge, and make sure you use it without too much delay.
It’s what’s on the inside that really counts: avocado stones, a mine of healthy nutrients
Avocado stones (seeds) normally receive little or no attention; the majority of people don’t realise that, nutritionally, they have a whole lot to offer and that they can easily be put to good culinary use. Check out the following ideas and get inspired:
- Grate a little avocado stone into muesli, salads or smoothies etc. Its abundant nutrients, antioxidants and vitamins help to boost the immune system.
- Grate the stone and add hot water to make a terrific tea, which might well help with burning fat – the stone’s active constituents and amino acids are believed to stimulate the metabolism.
- And, if you want to give your skin or hair a boost, stir some powdered stone into water to form a paste. Apply the paste directly to your skin, or mix it with coconut oil to make a deep hair conditioner.
Avocado: its versatility and panache
There are many great ways to enjoy this versatile fruit: raw, as an ingredient to enliven a salad, as a delightful dip or in a sensuous smoothie! Avocados work very well in sauces too – their high fat content means they deliver a particularly smooth and buttery sauce, allowing you to forget the cream etc. They can also be a surprisingly welcome addition to dessert dishes, e.g. when combined with lime, avocados make a delicious cheesecake.
Why not be inspired by the versatility of the avocado and open up your life to a whole new taste experience?
Perhaps you are already well versed in the culinary art of avocado preparation? Please write to us and share your knowledge and your favourite recipes! We really look forward to hearing from you.