What's Cooking America.
Types of Avocados
The two most widely marketed avocado varieties are the rough-skinned, almost
black Hass and the smooth, thin-skinned green Fuerte. The Hass has a smaller
pit and a more buttery texture than the Fuerte.
Purchasing & Using Avocadoes
Avocados must be used when fully ripe. They do not ripen on the tree and are
rarely found ripe in markets. Fresh avocados are almost always shipped in an
To test for ripeness by cradling an avocado gently in your hand. Ripe fruit
will yield will be firm, yet will yield to gentle pressure. If pressing
leaves a dent, the avocado is very ripe and suitable for mashing. They are
best served at room temperature.
Linda's tips on ripening avocados:
To ripen avocados slowly, put them in the fruit bin of your refrigerator (no apples please, that would be
mixed signals). Avocados can be kept for up to two weeks this way. They will ripening very slowly, so when you take them out of the
refrigerator they will be ready to eat in a couple of days.
To ripen an avocado faster, place in a
brown paper bag and set in your oven with only the oven light on.
Once avocados are at a desired stage
of ripeness, they may be refrigerated for up to 2 to 3 days
You can freeze mashed fresh, ripe avocados if you want to have an "emergency
supply" of avocados on hand for guacamole.
To freeze, mash the avocados with a fork. Add one teaspoon lime or
lemon juice per avocado and mix well. The best way to freeze the prepared
mashed avocados is to use a freeze-weight zip lock bag. Fill the bag with
the mashed avocado. Remove the air from the bag and then zip closed and
Thaw the frozen avocados in the refrigerator or place the container in a
bowl of cool water to accelerate thawing.
Avocado Nutrition Chart:
Avocados and weight loss
The following information is from The Avocado and Human Nutrition. I.
Some Human Health Aspects of the Avocado, by Bob Bergh, Department of Botany and
Plant Sciences, University of California:
- Contrary to popular assumptions, the avocado can be a helpful part
of a successful weight-management program. It brings several advantages.
Its monounsaturated fat speeds up the
basal metabolic rate, as compared with saturated fat.
Its high fat content gives a quicker
feeling of satiation ("fullness"), thus helping to reduce
Its high fat content makes an overall
sound diet more palatable, reducing the temptation to binge on foods
high in sugars or saturated fats.
Its rich supply of vitamins and minerals also makes the diet more
wholesome and satisfying and thus more conducive to overall health.
Favorite Avocado Recipes:
Asparagus and Avocado Wraps
These appetizers are fabulous and also low-fat and low calorie! Sure to impress your guests.
Yes, you read it right! This is a recipe for Avocado Truffles. You absolutely won't believe how delicious these truffles are until you
have tried this very easy-to-make recipe.
Delicious and very aromatic. can be made as mild or spicy as your like.
The opened avocado makes a perfect small golden cup from which to serve any number of fillings.
Avocado, Hearts of Palm, and Red Onion Salad
A delicious and easy-to-make salad that will please everyone.
This is absolutely wonderful! Your guests will go wild over it.
If you have never tasted Avocado Pie, you must! The pie is easy-to-make and so delicious.
In Asia and also Brazil, avocado shakes are very popular. The flavor is is subtle and very addictive!
The perfect Fall dinner or lunch sandwich when the tomatoes are ripe. I like to use my vine-ripened
tomatoes. So good!
Chunky Avocado Salad - Guacamole Salad
I really like this chunky version of guacamole over the mashed ones. It can be served as an appetizer or a salad with either corn or
Fresh Mozzarella Penna Pasta
My husband said this is a DEFINITE winner! It is so easy to make and so good. No cooking with this recipe (except for the pasta).
Guacamole Dip With Cilantro
In the cuisine of the Southwest, guacamole is used as a cocktail dip, or one of
the toppings and/or fillings of enchiladas, tacos, tostadas, or burritos.
Guacamole (Garden Style)
Guacamole is very simple to make, and you can take quite a few freedoms in how you make it, even what you put in it.
Tomato Avocado-Goat Cheese Crostini
These appetizers can be made anytime of the year, but be sure and make this recipe when fresh vine-ripened tomatoes are in season.
The English living in Jamaica called the
avocado an alligator pear. Some speculate that
they were comparing the skin to that of an alligator. Others say alligator
was a corruption of ahuacatl. In Jamaica today
the people call the avocado a pear. The Dutch
called it avocaat; Spain
avocatier; Trinidad and Tobago
zaboca, Even George Washington, First
President of the United States, wrote in 1751 that
agovago pears were abundant and popular in Barbados.
Did You Know?
An avocado is a fruit and not a vegetable! It is actually a member of the berry family.
In the past, the avocado had a
well-entrenched reputation for inducing sexual prowess and wasn't
purchased or consumed by any person wishing to protect their image
from slanderous assault. Growers had to sponsor a public relations
campaign to dispel the ill-founded reputation before avocados became
Avocados got their name from the Spanish
explorers. They couldn't pronounce the Aztec word for the fruit, know as ahuacatl, "testicle," because of its shape. The Spanish called the
aguacate, leading to the guacamole we know today.
Avocados must reach full maturity before
they are picked, however, they do not soften on the tree. The tree can
actually be used as a storage unit by keeping the fruit on the tree for
many months after maturing.
History of Avocados
It is evident from miscellaneous reports
by Spanish Conquistadores that, at the time of the Spanish conquest,
avocados were grown from northern Mexico south through Central America
into north-western South America and south in the Andean region as far
as Peru (where the avocado had been introduced shortly before the
conquest), as well as into the Andean region of Venezuela.
used the avocado as a sex stimulant and the Aztec name for avocado was
ahuacatl, meaning "testicle." In the pre-Incan city of Chanchan,
archaeologists have unearthed a large water jar, dated around 900 A.D.,
in the shape of an avocado.
- Martin Fernandez de Enciso (1470-1528), Spanish conquistador and
cosmographer, wrote the first published record that describes the
avocado in his book,
Suma De Geografia Que Trata De Todas Las Partidas Del Mundo, as
commonly grown near Santa Marta, Colombia. This was the first account in
Spanish of the discoveries in the New World.
-Spanish soldier of fortune Hernando Cortez (1485-1547) set foot in
Mexico City, the first white man to do so. Cortez found that the avocado
was a staple in the native diet
1526 - Fernandez de Oviedo (1478-1557), historian to the
conquistadores, wrote the following on avocados trees he saw along the
north coast of Colombia:
"In the center of the fruit is a seed like a peeled chestnut. And
between this and the rind is the part which is eaten, which is abundant,
and is a paste similar to butter and of very good taste."
1550 - The Spanish name, Aguacate, was first used by
Pedro de Cieza de Leon (1518-1554), Spanish conquistador and historian,
in a journal of his travels written in 1550. He noted that at that time
the avocado grew in Panama, Ecuador, Colombia, and Peru.
1554 - The first mention
of the avocado as growing in Mexico, was made by Francisco Cervantes
Salazar in 1554. In his book Crónica de
la Nueva España (Chronicles of New Spain), he listed the avocado among fruits sold in the market of Tenochtitlan (the
name for Mexico City at that time).
conquistadors also discovered a unique use for the avocado seed. The
seed yields a milky liquid that becomes red when exposed to air. The
Spaniards found they could use this reddish brown or even blackish
indelible liquid as ink to be used on documents. Some of these documents
are still in existence today.
-W. Hughes, physician to King Charles II of England, in his visit to
Jamaica, wrote that the avocado was
"One of the most rare and pleasant fruits of the island. It nourisheth
and strengtheneth the body, corroborating the spirits and procuring lust
- European sailors in the 1700s called it
because they liked to spread it on hardtack biscuits
- Judge Henry Perrine planted the first avocado tree in Florida.
-.The California State Agricultural Society Report
for 1856 stated that Thomas J. White grew the avocado in Los Angeles.
- In California, the first successful introduction of avocado trees was
planted by Judge R. B. Ord of Santa Barbara, who secured the trees from
Mexico in 1871.
1879 - The oldest living tree is found on the University of
California, Berkeley campus and was planted in 1879.
1892 - In other southern California locations, avocados were
planted by various people who introduced and planted seed from Mexico
and Guatemala. In the early 1890's, Juan Murrieta of Los Angeles
became interested in the avocado and imported a large amount of
thick-skinned fruit from Atlixco, Mexico. He distributed some of the
seeds of these fruits among his friends and planted the others. From
this group of seedling trees, came a number of the varieties that first
attracted attention as promising commercial fruits.
- In 1895, Young Charles Delmonico and Ranhofer introduced New York to
the "alligator pear." or avocado, which had been newly imported from
South America. Ranhofer had known of the avocado -- he mentions
the avocado in his book, The Epicurean, which he published the
previous year -- but until 1895 he had been unable to secure a supply of
the buttery fruit.
- Frederick O. Popenoe, owner of the West Indian Gardens of Altadena,
California, sent Carl Schmidt to Mexico (Mexico City, Puebla, and
Atlixco) to search for avocados of outstanding quality and to locate the
trees from which they came. Schmidt, who located what turned out to be
the Fuerte as a dooryard tree in Atlixco, Mexico. Only one of the trees
he brought back survived the great freeze of 1913 in California. This
surviving tree was given the name Fuerte, Spanish for "vigorous."
"Two years later came the big freeze. In the spring when we began to
take stock of damage, it was the Fuerte that came through and it was the
only avocado that survived. It thus proved itself adaptable to our
tree created California's avocado industry.
Carl Schmidt was compelled to tell and retell the story of his
fortuitous discovery of the Fuerte avocado. “Popenoe was a nut --
an imaginative, idealistic nut without which our nation would suffer and
certainly make little progress."
History of Hass Avocados
- The most popular California avocado is the Hass (frequently mispronounced
and misspelled as Haas), which weights about half a pound and has a pebbly
black skin when ripe. Hass avocadoes are unique because they are the only
avocado variety that is produced year-round. According to the California
The tree began life as a mistake - a lucky-chance seedling planted
by A.R. Rideout of Whittier. Rideout, an innovator and pioneer in
avocados, was always searching for new varieties and tended to plant
whatever seeds he could find, often along streets or in neighbors'
yards. In the late 1920s, Mr. Rudolph Hass, a postman, purchased the
seedling tree from Rideout, and planted it in his yard.
According to Paul Wilkes, son-in-law of Rudolph Hass, the California
Avocado Commission's statement is misleading:
"Rudolph Hass did buy the avocado seeds from Mr Rideout, but he
planted them himself. Rudy had used all of the money he had to buy
the land for his grove. He was only earning 25 cents an hour working
as a postman so he couldn't afford trees.
Mr. Rideout was noted for using any seeds he could get his hands on,
including the garbage from restaurants. His selection process
occurred when the seedlings were ready to graft. He would then
destroy any weak seedlings. Rudolph Hass knew nothing about raising
trees, but Mr. Rideout was very helpful to him and instructed him to
plant three seeds in a cluster where ever he wanted a tree, and then
pull up the two weakest seedlings and graft the strongest. For this
reason, no one knows what kind of seed produced the Hass tree."
Following are excerpts from 2004 article, How The Hass Avocado Came
To Be, by Cindy Miller, granddaughter of Rudolph Hass:
My mom, Faith (Hass) Wilkes knows how
the Hass avocado came to be, so I will share it with you . . . After
reading a magazine article illustrated with an Avocado Tree with
dollar bills hanging from it, Grandpa bought a small 1 1/2 acre
grove in La Habra Heights in 1925. There were a few Fuerte avocado
He planted the rest of the grove on 12 foot centers with three seeds
in each hole. He hired a professional grafter named Mr. Caulkins, to
graft cuttings from the existing Fuerte trees onto the strongest of
the three trees from each hole. All but three "took". The next year
Mr. Caulkins re-grafted those three trees. The following year Mr.
Caulkins re-grafted the one tree that had rejected the graft again.
Again it didn't take. Grandpa was ready to give up and chop the tree
down, but Mr. Caulkins said it was a good strong tree. He advised
Grandpa to just let it grow and see what happens. So he did. The
Hass avocado happened. Grandpa Hass only planted the seed, Mr.
Caulkins did the grafting, and God gave the increase.
Grandpa patented the Hass Avocado in 1935 but, since it was the
first patent ever issued on a tree, it got no respect. Growers would
buy one tree from Mr. Brokaw who had the exclusive right to produce
the nursery trees. They would then re-graft their whole grove with
the bud wood from that one tree. For that reason Rudolph Hass made
only $5,000 royalties on his patent. However, he was the first to
have a producing grove of Hass Avocados, all be it a very small
grove. He found a ready market for the fruit at the Model Grocery
Store in Pasadena where the chefs for wealthy people who lived on
South Orange Grove Street shopped. Once they sampled the Hass
variety, they insisted on it. My mom, her sister, and three brothers
worked with Grandma and Grandpa harvesting and also sold avocados
from a roadside stand by the grove at 430 West Road in La Habra,
Every Hass avocado tree today is
descended from that original tree. There is a plaque commemorating
the location of the parent tree but the tree died of root rot and
was cut down on 9/11/2002 at the ripe old age of 76 (It was planted
in 1926). That is very old for an avocado tree. The wood from the
tree is stored at the nursery run by Mr. Brokaw's nephew. Some of
the wood has been made into jewelry, gifts, and keepsakes by Mr.
Hass's Nephew, Richard Stewart. He gave them to members of the Hass
family and some members of the Avocado Growers Association.
Grandpa expanded to Fallbrook
with an 80 acre orchard which bore its' first crop in 1952 just as
Grandpa Hass died of heart failure in the Fallbrook Hospital.
However, Grandma Hass lived to the ripe old age of 98 after a
lifetime of eating a half piece of wheat toast with avocado slices
on it with breakfast just about every morning.
Patents expire after 17 years. When Grandpa filed for his patent in
1935 he prayed and asked the Lord to let him live as long as the
patent was good. As a young man he had been rejected from service in
WWI because of a congenital heart condition. He knew his ticker was
not too good, yet he worked hauling those heavy mail sacks all those
years. He passed away in 1952 a few months after his 17 year patent
on the Hass avocado expired. Grandma Hass lived the rest of her life
on the pension from Grandpa's mailman job. Others saw the profit
potential in the Hass avocado and have developed it into the
industry it is today. Now we all enjoy its fruit.
Seeding, Peeling, and Cutting Avocados
Start by cutting the avocado lengthwise around the seed with a sharp knife with a blade at least 2 inches longer than the avocado.
Place the avocado in the palm of your hand and insert. Without moving the knife, roll the avocado around, slicing it
top to bottom and back to the top.
A gentle twist will separate the two halves of the avocado, exposing the meat and the seed
To remove the seed, carefully “hit” the seed with the knife so it pierces it
about 1/4 inch or so.
Turn the knife with the seed, and it will come loose from the inner flesh so you can easily lift it up and
out of the avocado.
To remove the seed from your knife, pinch the seed by placing your fingers over the knife blade
(blunt side) and squeeze as though you are
pinching the end of the avocado. It should pop off from the knife and fall freely.
Avocados are easy to peel when ripe. Peel the fruit by placing the cut side down and removing the skin with a knife or your fingers
(start at the small
end and remove the skin), or simply scoop out the avocado meat with a spoon.
Score the inner meat with a small knife both horizontally and laterally. These will be the cubes when the skin is turned
towards inside out.
If the avocado is ripe, flesh should fall out as the skin is turned. Repeat this with the remaining
avocados. Place the cubes into a medium sized bowl.
To slice, use your knife and make slices instead of scoring for cubes.
TIP: Sprinkle lemon or lime juice over peeled avocados to prevent discoloring.
Ruiz, Bruce A., Panamal>
The Hass Mother Tree 1926-3003, California Avocado Commission.
California Avocado Society, Yearbook 1970-71, page 6.
How The Hass Avocado Came To Be, by Cindy Miller, 2004.
I'll Have What They're Having - Legendary Local Cuisine, by Linda
Stradley, Globe Pequot Press, 2002.
Spanish 201: Beginnings of Castilian Hegemony to 1369 (Fall
1999), by Frank Domínguez,
The Avocado and Human Nutrition. I.
Human Health Aspects of the Avocado,
by Bob Bergh, Department of Botany and
Plant Sciences, University of California.
University of California Avocado Information Site.
Vegetarians in Paradise.
W. B. Storey. What Kind of Fruit is the
Avocado? California Avocado Society Yearbook 1973-74. P70-71.