A lush fruit (not a vegetable!) with a with bright green flesh from the tropics. 80% of today's crop comes from California, and varieties range from round to pear-shaped with skin ranging in color from black to green and smooth to dimpled. Unlike most fruits, avocados only ripen off the tree. Avocados do not soften on the tree. After picking they need 4-17 days to soften, depending on temperature and humidity. They are rich in monounsaturated fat, and have more than twice as much potassium as a banana. Avocados are rarely served hot because they can easily become bitter when cooked over high heat. There are three types of avocado: (1) Mexican/semi-triopcal, small fruit (6-10 ounces) with a glossy purple, paper-thin skin when ripe; (2) Guatemalan/subtropical, medium pear-shaped fruit that has a hard shell that is green then turns purple-black or coppery purple when ripe; (3) West Indian/tropical, large (up to 2 pounds) smooth, round glossy green fruit. Popular varieties are Hass, Fuerte, Bacon, Ettinger, Gwen, Nabal, Pinkerton, Reed, Zutano, and several simply labeled as Florida avocados. California avocados (Hass is the most popular) are small in size and have a buttery nutty taste. Florida varieties are larger with a smooth bright green skin and a mild, fruity flavor. Because the Florida varieties have less fat (20-25% less), they lack the buttery taste of the California varieties.
Season: available year-round
How to select: Look for unblemished fruit, heavy for their size. Ripe avocados yield to pressure. Speed the ripening process by placing in a paper bag.
How to store: At room temperature until ripe, in the refrigerator for several days to slow the ripening process. Will discolor rapidly when exposed to the air, so if you need to store them or recipes made with significant avocados, wrap tightly in plastic wrap so no air touches the surface at all. Contrary to popular belief, storing the seed with the guacamole will do absolutely nothing to keep the dish green.
Matches well with: basil, bread, chiles, cilantro, crab, cucumber, garlic, grapefruit, leeks, lemon, lime, mangoes, mint, red onions, oranges, parsley, pineapples, pistachios, salt, shrimp, smoked fish, sugar, tomatoes, vinaigrette, vinegar