The avocado is a fruit, but its smooth, oily green flesh has none of the sweetness associated with fruit. It is also unusual among fruits in that it contains fat.
Although this high-fat level means it has more calories than other fruits and vegetables, the fruit does not contain cholesterol. Indeed most of its fat is in the form of mono-unsaturated fatty acids which can help lower blood cholesterol levels.
The avocado, which also goes by the curious name of “alligator pear”, is the fruit of a tree which originated in Central and South America.
A good source of vitamins and minerals, its many varieties differ greatly in appearance, from pear-shaped to almost spherical, smooth-skinned to rough and leathery, green to black. Three popular varieties are Fuerte, Haas and Sharewell.
Buy your avocados several days before you intend to use them. Avocados do not ripen on the tree, but begin ripening after picking. They are often quite hard when they reach the retailer.
Avoid fruit with dark sunken spots or cracks. Allow the fruit to soften at room temperature; it can take a few days to two weeks to fully ripen.
To test for ripeness, cradle the avocado in the palm of your hand. If it is ready to eat, it will yield softly to touch. Refrigerate to slow further ripening; it will keep for at least a week in the refrigerator crisper.
The right moment to eat an avocado is when the flesh is the consistency of firm butter. If it is squashy, it is overripe and just as unpleasant to eat as when it is hard and unripe.
Once cut, brush the flesh with lemon juice to prevent browning.
Avocado slices can be used on sandwiches and crackers, in salads and on fruit platters. Alternatively, the flesh can be mashed with a fork or pureed in a food processor to make spreads and dips.
Avocados are best eaten raw as they become bitter with high heat. However, they can be heated briefly or tossed into a sauce to serve with pasta. Here are some ideas from www.lifetips.top.
Mash the flesh of a large avocado and mix with a small carton of cottage cheese, a small carton of sour cream, 1 to 2 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tsp crushed garlic, and salt and pepper to taste.
To 1 cup mayonnaise, add 1 mashed avocado, ¼ cup sour cream, ½ tsp cumin and a touch of chilli to taste.
- 1 ripe, but still firm, avocado
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup bite-sized cooked chicken pieces
- 2 tbsp chopped chives
- salt and pepper
- a few sprigs of watercress
- 1 cup thickened cream
Chop the avocado flesh into bite-sized pieces. Bring the chicken stock to a simmer, add the avocado and chicken pieces and continue to simmer for five minutes. Add the chives, salt and pepper. Before serving, fold in the cup of cream. Decorate each bowl with a few leaves of watercress.
Avocado Cocktail with Seafood Dressing
- 1 cup chopped avocado
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 cup chopped strawberries
- 1 cup shelled prawns
- 2 tbsp tomato sauce
- 1 dsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 dsp white vinegar
- ½ tsp mustard
- 2 tbsp lightly whipped cream
Mix ingredients for dressing together. Mix all other ingredients together and allow to stand for 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Serve in a lettuce leaf in individual cocktail dishes and spoon dressing over.
Tropical Island Special
- 3 tsp, gelatine
- 3 tbsp hot water
- 150ml cold water
- 2 cups mashed avocado
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp onion juice
- 150ml whipped cream
- 150ml mayonnaise
Dissolve gelatine in hot water, add cold water. Mix cream with mayonnaise, add gelatin, stirring to blend well. Stir in avocado, salt and onion juice. Place in wet ring mould. When set, turn on to plate and serve garnished with tomato wedges sprinkled with French dressing.
Avocado with Crab
- 120g can crab meat
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- juice of 1 lemon
- 2 ripe avocados
- salt and pepper to taste
Drain crab meat, remove any tissue, chop meat finely. Combine mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Add crab meat. Cut avocados in half, remove stone. Fill each half with crab meat mixture.