Better than Bananas! Avocados contain more potassium than bananas. A 100 g (3.5 ounce) serving contains 14% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA), compared to 10% in bananas.
Avocado is also known as 'alligator pear' because of its shape and leather-like, rough-green skin. Its scientific name is Persea Americana
, and it has its origin in the state of Puebla, Mexico. The early Spanish explorers introduced this fruit to the rest of the world, and today, avocados are cultivated in tropical and Mediterranean climates throughout the world.
Avocados have a green to black hard exterior that turns buttery soft on ripening. They contain one large seed that is not consumed. Their weight varies according to the type and can range from 8 ounces to 3 pounds. Avocados are high in omega 3 fatty acids and account for three-quarters of the calories obtained from them. They also contain the highest amount of protein that can be obtained from a fruit.
A majority of avocados produced in the U.S. (about 90%) are cultivated in California, while some varieties are produced in Florida. Like most fruits, they ripen after harvesting, and the varieties of avocado are classified as 'A cultivars' and 'B cultivars' depending on the timing of the male and female flower phases, respectively. Let us take a look at these cultivars in detail or you can click the Image gallery
to view the various types of avocados.
Hass is mostly grown in California. It is oval-shaped with thick, rough skin and is almost black in appearance. It matures in spring and summer, and is ready to be picked from April through October. The Hass tree bears more fruits than Fuerte, which used to be an industry standard in the 1930s. 80% of the avocados cultivated in the world are of the Hass variety. In 1935, a postman named Rudolph Hass patented the tree he had planted, which produced the Hass variety of avocados. He had purchased the seedlings from A. R. Rideout, an innovator and pioneer in avocados, from Whittier, California. Hass contains up to 26 g of total fat per whole fruit, which is 41% of our daily need, and is often used as a control in field testing of other varieties.
Gwen is similar to Hass in appearance and taste, but slightly larger. It has small to medium seed, and the skin is easy to peel. It is a cross-pollinated hybrid variety which ripens in fall and winter, and can be harvested from February through October.
This oval-shaped variety, which has a light-green skin, derives its name from Remi D. Choquette Sr., who first planted the tree on his property in Miami, Florida, in 1934. The fruit is a popular Florida variety, which is largely composed of water, and has an oil content of only about 13%. A typical choquette can weigh about 2 pounds as opposed to a Hass which may weigh around 7 ounces. It can be harvested from October through December.
Pinkerton avocado is a large pear-shaped fruit with a small seed. It has a relatively longer neck compared to other varieties. The skin is medium-thick and green in color with slight pebbling. The flesh has a rich-creamy texture and high oil content. The harvest season is December through April.
The reed avocado was developed from a seedling found by James S. Reed, in California, in 1948. This round, lemon-shaped fruit is available in summer and early fall. The fruit is green skinned, and weighs approximately 7 to 18 ounces. The harvest period is mostly from July to October.
'Fuerte' means strong in Spanish. It is an original California avocado which can withstand severe frost; hence the name. The fruit is pear-shaped with medium seed and weighs approximately 5 to 13 ounces. The skin is thin, soft, and green in color. The flesh is creamy and has 18% oil content. The harvesting period ranges from November through June.
This variety can be easily identified because of its dark-purple skin at maturity, and is considered to be an excellent choice for preparing guacamole. It is well-known for its frost tolerance of up to −5°C (23°F). The seedling is named after Tom W. Brogden of Florida, on whose property it originated.
Ettinger is a large, pear-shaped, green-colored fruit with smooth skin and a big seed. This variety originated in Kfar Malal, Israel, in 1947, and was introduced in the U.S. in 1954. Apart from having a pale-green flesh, it is similar to Fuerte in appearance. It is similar in nutrition as the Hass, but has a slightly-milder flavor. The mature trees can tolerate cold temperatures of −6°C (21°F) for up to 4 hours.
This oval-shaped fruit has medium to large seed and has a light taste. The skin is smooth, thin, easily-peelable, and green in color, while the flesh is creamy-textured and yellowish-green in color. The fruit has a high oil content of about 18-24%, which is slightly higher than the Zutano variety. It has excellent frost tolerance, and therefore, a preferred choice for cooler climates. It is ready to be harvested from November to March.
This Mexican variety can be easily identified because of its shiny, yellow-green skin. It is a pear-shaped fruit with thin, easy-to-peel skin and has a light flavor. Similar to Bacon variety, it is a good choice for cooler areas as it shows cold tolerance up to −4°C (25°F). The harvest season is from October to March.
▶ Lamb Hass
This variety is large in size, symmetrical in shape, and has a pebbly texture. The flesh is pale-green with a smooth-creamy flavor. The color of the flesh and seed is similar to Hass; however, the skin is black which is slightly darker than Hass. It can weigh around 11.75 to 18.75 ounces. The harvest season is from May to November.
This variety originated in 1910, in Anaheim, California, and is derived from the Guatemalan type of avocados. It is large, softball-shaped and may grow up to two pounds. The skin is medium-thick, glossy, and green in color, and can be easily peeled off. The seed is small to medium in size, and the flesh is soft and pale-yellow in color. The season of harvesting is June through August.
▶ Mexicola Grande* Click on the arrows to begin slideshow.
This pear-shaped variety is small but with a large seed. The skin is thin, glossy, easy-to-peel, and blackish in color, while the flesh is tender, soft, and creamy with rich, nutty flavor. The fruit is cold tolerant to 18 or 20 degrees, and is often used in breeding programs, in California. It has a high oil content between 20 and 22%. The harvesting season is August through October.
These were a few varieties of avocados which taste from creamy and nutty, to sweet and juicy. Try a few of them to increase the nutritional value and add a little oomph to your recipes.