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Avocado Varieties and Facts

Avocados can weigh from 1 ounce to up to 4 pounds each

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Avocado Cut in Half

© 2007 Peggy Trowbridge Filippone

Avocado Varieties

The fruit is primarily pear-shaped, but some varieties are also almost round. They can weigh from 1 ounce to up to 4 pounds each. Avocaditos are a cocktail-sized version of the avocado that are about the size of a small gherkin, weighing only about an ounce.

The most common types are: Bacon, Fuerte, Gwen, Hass, Pinkerton, Reed, and Zutano, with many chefs having a particular preference for the Hass variety. (This link provides a description and representative pictures to help you distinguish them in the market.)

Although the prime season for avocados is late winter/early spring, they are readily available in markets year-round.

Avocado Facts and Usage

Avocados are used not only in salads and the ever popular guacamole, but also in breads, desserts, main dishes, and in non-culinary creams for facials and body massages.

The Taiwanese eat avocados with milk and sugar. Indonesians mix them with milk, coffee, and rum for a cold libation. Filipinos puree them with sugar and milk to make a dessert drink.

Even the avocado tree leaves are used in some parts of Mexico. Both green and dried leaves can be used for wrapping tamales, or seasoning for barbecues and stews. Dried leaves will keep for several months in a tightly-closed container.

Is the avocado a vegetable or a fruit?

The avocado is widely considered a vegetable, since it is commonly used in salads. However, it is actually a fruit that tastes like a vegetable, and most markets display it with other typical fruits.

In some areas, it is known as the avocado pear and also the alligator pear due to the pebbly, rough exterior of one of the common types. There are quite a few varieties of avocados, but most cooks develop a preference for a particular breed.

The fruit is harvested from tall trees, which grow in groves. The rich, pale yellow-green flesh of the pear-shaped fruit has a texture likened to a firm ripe banana, smooth and buttery, with a faintly nutty flavor.

Most avocados are grown in tropical climates, primarily in Mexico, California, Hawaii, and Florida. California is the number one producer of avocados in the United States, supplying 95% of the nation's crop, with 85% of the crop being of the Hass variety. Mexico is the world's leading producer of avocados, serving up over 718,000 tons in 1994, more than the combined totals of the next seven producers in the world. In 1992, Americans ate 620 million avocados.

More About Avocados and Avocado Recipes:

Avocado Storage and Selection
Avocado Varieties, Facts, and Usage
Avocados and Health
Avocado History
Avocado Recipes
Avocados Photo © 2007 Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, licensed to About.com, Inc.

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