Avocado

Avocado

Synonym:
Alligator pear
Plural:
Avocados
Family:
Lauraceae – Laurel family
Species:
Persea americana

Origin

Avocados were cultivated as early as 8000 years ago in Mexico and Guatemala; their name is derived from the Aztec word ahuakatl. In around 1600, the Europeans brought the fruit to the south of Spain and in 1833 to Florida. By the middle of the 19th century, the fruit was finally brought to California and Asia. The avocados we eat today are descended from three breeds of the fruit: the fatty variety with a thin bowl from the highlands of Mexico, the Guatemalan variety with raw bowls from the highlands of Central America and the 'skinny' West Indian variety with a smooth, leathery bowl and a large core, which comes from the Central-American lowlands.

Plant

Avocados grow in 10 to 20 m high trees with blue-green leaves that are very grey - an indicator of their relationship with the mountain Laurel. In cultures, the trees are kept to about 5 m as this makes them easier to havest.The tiny, chartreuse blossoms grow in dense panicles, whose number is so high that from one fruit, there are 5000 blossoms. Avocados are stone fruit with a seminal core much like apricots and can grow up to 20 cm long according to the variety.

Cultivation

Cultivation depends on the type of Avocado, the variety that grow in the tropics and subtropics for example: The Mexican avocado can tolerate temperatures up to -3 °C and prospers around the Mediterranean area. However, the West Indian avocado requires tropical temperatures. The trees are quite resistant against pest, so protection agents are rarely used on avocado plantations. Depending on the variety, fruits are picked from 9 to 18 months after blossom, if they are ripe but still firm.

Importations

All year round from all continents.

Fruit

Edible:
flesh.
Inedible:
bowl, core.
Odour and flavour:
creamy and nut-like.
Ripeness:
The fruits become soft like a ripe banana; on the bowl there are black little points; the beginning of the peduncle can be easily plucked. The flesh is steadily green and soft like spreadable butter. For some varieties the colour of the bowl changes.
Overripe fruits:
There are distinctive black spots on the bowl; the flesh has black streaks.
Unripe fruits:
firm or - if they are picked too early - wizened and without flavour.

Usage

They may be eaten raw with salt, pepper and lemon juice and eaten trough spooning the flesh out or for sweet and hearty salads. It can be purified into a cream, made into a drink, or be drunk or even lighty heated and consumed as a soup.

Tip

The Dutch name for egg-liqueur — Avokaat — comes from the avocado. The South American Indians had brewed a creamy liqueur from avocados, and the Europeans had to substitute for the tropical fruits with eggs.