The avocado originated in south-central Mexico about 10,000 years ago. It was several millennia before wild avocados were cultivated and many more before the avocado we know today (the most common variety being Hass) was born in a California backyard in the early 1930s.
All this, and it tastes good too?
You might think that something as rich and creamy as an avocado would be bad for you, but there’s no need to worry. This highly prized fruit—technically it’s a berry—is rich in vitamins K, B6, and C, as well as folate and fiber. (Psst, we don’t want to hurt the banana’s feelings, but ounce for ounce, an avocado has about 50 percent more potassium.) Avocados contain high levels of antioxidants, such as carotenoids, as well as significant quantities of vitamin E. An avocado’s oils are mostly monounsaturated—the kind that lowers LDL (“bad”) cholesterol but maintains HDL (“good”) cholesterol.
Not just for guacamole
Avocados are a healthy substitute for foods rich in saturated fats, like butter and fatty meats. Some people enjoy them eaten right out of the skin with a spoon. Or try them smeared on bagels, toast, or rice cakes—scrumptious! Mash with a little lime juice, salt, and pepper to jazz up a sandwich. And don’t forget the avocado’s sweet side. In Brazil, avocados are eaten with ice cream or in breakfast smoothies. Singer/songwriter Jason Mraz, a celebrity avocado farmer in San Diego county, uses avocados in a surprisingly delicious chocolate pudding recipe he calls “Chocomole.”
So use your imagination—and your avocados!
Storage and prep
Slice lengthwise around the pit, and twist gently to open. Avocados are ripe when they give slightly to firm, gentle pressure. Ripe avocados will keep in the fridge for 2–3 days.