What is an avocado - is it a vegetable? A fruit? How many different kinds of avocado are there? Here we have the answers to all your questions!
With their buttery texture and unique, subtle flavor, most of us would agree that avocados are delicious!
What isn't so clear is whether an avocado is a type of vegetable, or whether it's actually a fruit (after all, it's also known as an 'alligator pear'!).
Well, we're here to tell you that the avocado is... (drum roll)... a fruit!
It's a classification that may not immediately jump to mind when you eat an avocado - unlike most fruits, it's not sweet and lends itself better to savory dishes. But experts say that the avocado is, in fact, a large berry containing a single seed. Who knew?
Avocados are grown in Mediterranean and tropical areas and are usually pear-shaped, although you sometimes see egg-shaped or even round ones. They have thick, green inedible skin and there are many different types (or cultivars), though the most common by far is the Hass.
The other type of avocado you may see quite often in stores is the Florida variety. A Florida (or Dominican) avocado is larger than the Hass avocado, with a smoother, more brightly green skin. It is sometimes marketed as a 'diet' avocado, because it contains less fat than other types. But - as we explain later in this article - the fat in avocados is good fat, so cutting down on it may not be the healthiest choice.
And with fat comes flavor and texture - meaning that the lower-fat Florida variety simply isn't as tasty or creamy as the smaller, knobbly skinned Hass.
How is avocado used?
There are sooo many ways to enjoy the amazing avocado!
Some people enjoy eating it just as it is, straight from the skin with perhaps a little sprinkle of salt.
It also works wonderfully in salads - this Fennel Avocado Salad Recipe has a unique and delicious flavor.
It pairs up perfectly with bacon, as in this Avocado BLT Recipe.
But the most common use for avocado is probably to make guacamole, the delicious Mexican dip that we all know and love!
How to keep avocado looking fresh
Once its cut, avocado can turn brown VERY quickly. To stop this from happening, sprinkle it with a little lemon or lime juice. Some people swear by leaving the pit in, too.
Can you cook avocado?
Avocado is generally served raw, where its subtle flavor and creamy texture really shine through! If you want to use avocado in a cooked dish, it's important to ensure you only cook it for a short time, otherwise it can become bitter.
The best type of avocado to use in cooked dishes is the Hass variety.
Above all, avocado is GOOD for you!
Avocado might be packed with fats, but they're GOOD fats - the type your body needs! They actually help you stay feeling full for longer by slowing down the rate at which your body breaks down carbohydrates, keeping your blood sugar levels nice and stable.
Avocado also contains plenty of fiber, potassium and antioxidants, so it's definitely a good idea to regularly include it on your menu.