That’s Spanish for Welcome Friends. Why am I greeting you in Spanish? It’s because I’m an avocado and we originated in Mexico and Central America where Spanish is the national language. My Mexican name is aguacate but you can call me Avo, if you like.
These days, my friend, we’re grown all around the globe and are no longer just the stars of Mexican food - you’ll find us in Italian pasta dishes, Japanese sushi and Australian seafood salads too. We don’t mind being adopted by the world though - we Mexicans are generous types.
Although we’re happy to blend in with other foods we’re quite unique in many ways. Let me tell you about myself, my friend - we should get to know each other better. To begin with I’m a fruit (hey, hombre, watch yourself, remember macho is a Spanish word!) but I’m eaten like a vegetable - like chunky potatoes and brawny beans. I pack a punch in the nutrition stakes because I’m one of only a few fruits to contain fat - the special kind that’s really good for you - I’ll tell you all about that later.
In Mexico we believe in ma²ana, which means don’t do today what you can put off until tomorrow. It’s a philosophy we avocados love. We mature slowly and steadily on the tree but put off ripening until we’ve been picked. It saves a lot of time and effort and it means you get to eat us at our best.
We grow on an attractive evergreen tree that stands 8-12 metres high and 13 metres wide and, oh, it has a beautiful crown of smooth, glossy, dark green leaves which shade us from the sun during siesta time.
We come in different shapes from oval to pear depending on which variety we’re from. Our average size is about 10cm long and our skin looks like fine leather (remember it was designed to withstand the fierce Mexican sun). Some of us have quite smooth skin while others have a rough, pebbled appearance, and while most of us are glossy green, some varieties do turn purplish-black when ripe. But green or dark, rough or smooth, we’re all the same inside. At our heart lies a large inedible seed surrounded by soft, buttery, creamy-white to greenish-yellow flesh which has a delicate nutty taste - it’s what makes us irresistible!
Did you know?
Other varieties include: Bacon, Hazzard, Pinkerton, Rincon, Shepard, Wurtz, Reed.
Why Avocados Are Good To Eat
• As I told you before we’re unusual in being one of only a few fruits to contain fat. But our fat is not a problem because it’s ‘good fat’ - the type that keeps you healthy. It’s a source of essential fatty acids and is mostly the same kind of healthy fat found in olive oil.
How They are Grown and Harvested
Avocado trees can be planted at any time of year. As they grow the lower branches should be pruned to prevent us from hanging on the ground. The tree will begin to produce fruit after three years and most varieties will bear fruit every year.
Our parent trees have different shapes depending on variety - some are tall, upright trees while others have branches that hug the ground.
Mature and firm - often four to five days away from being ripe.
How to Keep Avocados
Prime Growing Areas
History of Avocados
We were first discovered by Europeans in the 16th century when the Spanish Conquistadors invaded the lands of the Incas and Aztecs and found avocados used as a staple part of their diets.
The first avocados in Australia were grown from seeds brought in from the West Indies at the beginning of the 20th century. In 1928, the first trees were planted in the Sunraysia District, now a major avocado growing area.
Australia has now become a leading producer of our fine avocado family with Queensland growing the largest quantities, and New South Wales and Victoria both producing significant amounts.
Fun Ways to Eat and Cook Avocados
We can be stuffed, or simply remove our skin and add us sliced or diced to scrambled eggs, soups, salads, dips, sauces, sandwiches or crepes. We can also be served warm or cold. If served warm, add just before serving. If cooked it will have a bitter taste.
Try these easy and delicious avocado recipes:
Hot Potato with Avocado
Avocado and Strawberry Salad
Avocado and Chicken Tacos