Season for Avocado: April - September
Sometimes called the Alligator Pear for its rough-textured skin, the avocado is a rich & creamy fruit native to the tropics and subtropics - technically a big ol' berry. It's buttery texture and mild, faintly nut-esque flavor make for a healthy fat to be reckoned with. The fruit's name comes from ahuacatl which is the Nahuatl word for "testicle," most likely a reference to the avocado's shape. The Aztecs revere the avocado as the "fertility fruit." At the market, you're most likely to come face-to-face with one of two varieties: the bumpy, almost black Haas or the smooth green Fuerte (means strong in Spanish).
How to Buy and Store Avocados
An avocado is ripe – ready for your indulgence – when it feels slightly soft to the touch but shows no dark sunken spots or cracks. You may also buy a firmer avocado and ripen it in a paper bag or a fruit basket in your home, usually within a few days. Don't put an avocado into the fridge until it's ripe, and then it will last up to a week once refrigerated. If you use a portion and wish to save the rest for later use, sprinkle some lemon juice over the exposed flesh to prevent browning which happens pretty quickly and wrap in cellophane.
Tree-ripened avocados are known for better flavor and the way you can tell is if the avo has a longer neck, as opposed to being more round in shape.
How to Cook Avocados
Quite often you might find the best way to eat an avocado is sliced in half, sprinkled with a dash of salt, and enjoyed with the help of a spoon. More often, you might be found bogarting a tub of guacamole. But the awesome avocado – as we've dubbed it – can be used in a multitude of unique ways. Sliced avocado can be topped on just about anything and be a winner: garnishing soups, spread on bread just like butter, over a salad or ceviche. Avocado also makes a creamy base for dressings.
To go beyond the culinary explorations of our alligator pear friend you can read Beyond Guacamole: 5 Ways to Use an Awesome Avocado
Health Benefits of Avocados
Nutritionally speaking, avocados are rife with monounsaturated fat – the kind of fat that helps lower LDL (bad) and helps increase HDL (good) cholesterol. Prevention Magazine's Flat Belly Diet names the avocado as one of the five all-star fats you should incorporate into your diet (yes, for a flat stomach!), providing nearly 20 essential nutrients, including fiber, potassium, Vitamin E, B-vitamins and folic acid. They also help the body absorb nutrients, such as alpha and beta-carotene and lutein, in foods that are eaten in tandem.
Why Buy Natural and Organic Avocados
Lucky for the avocado, it has thick skin that can stave off some pesticide build up in the fruit's edible part (but the roots of the tree can absorb pesticides and trasport those to the flesh of the avocado). Unlucky for the environment, any pesticides used on our farms can turn into run-off and wreak havoc elsewhere. So while it might not be much of a personal health consideration, Avocados serve the whole of us when they are bought organic, and in season.