Avocados

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Hass avocado pears - Persea americana 'Hass'

Avocado fruits have a smooth, creamy, greenish-yellow flesh with an unusually high amount of fat that is primarily monounsaturated. They also contain a high concentration of dietary fibre, vitamins and potassium.

The avocado is very popular in vegetarian cuisine, making an excellent substitute for meats in sandwiches and salads because of its high fat content. The fruit is not sweet, but fatty, distinctly yet subtly flavoured, and of smooth, almost creamy texture. It is used as the base for the Mexican dip known as guacamole, as well as a filling for several kinds of sushi, including California rolls. Avocado is popular in chicken dishes and as a spread on toast, served with salt and pepper. In Brazil and Vietnam, avocados are considered sweet fruits, so are frequently used for milk-shakes and occasionally added to ice cream and other desserts. In Brazil, Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia, a dessert drink is made with sugar, milk or water, and pureed avocado. Chocolate syrup is sometimes added.

Preparing an avocado

In Mexico and Central America, avocados are served mixed with white rice, in soups, salads, or on the side of chicken and meat. In Chile its consumption is widespread and used as a puree in chicken, hamburgers and hot dogs, and in slices for celery or lettuce salads. The Chilean version of Caesar salad contains large slices of mature avocado.

The Hass avocado, sometimes marketed as the Haas avocado, is a cultivar of avocado with dark green coloured, bumpy skin. It was first grown and sold by Southern California mail carrier and amateur horticulturist Rudolph Hass, who also gave it his name.

A neat trick to ripen avocado pears

Supermarket ready-to-eat avocado pears are twice the price of unripe avocados but most times you need them to be ripe the day you buy them. This great trick shown to me by a fruit farmer allows you to ripen them to order. It's similar to using an old Victorian fruit store - the cold halts the ripening process. Place the unripe pears in the fridge until a few days before you need them. Storing them in a cool dark place prevents them ripening any further so they won't ripen before you want to use them. To ripen them, place them on a sunny window sill for two or three days, turning them daily.

Preparing an avocado pear

With a sharp knife, cut around the stone in a circular motion, grip either half in each hand and twist in opposing directions to split into two halves. Sharply tap a sharp knife into the stone so it penetrates (as shown), cup the pear in one hand and rotate the knife away from you to free the stone. Scoop the flesh out with a tablespoon or an ice-cream scoop.

An Avocado slicer is a kitchen tool designed to quickly slice avocados.

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