Avocados are stone fruits. They belong to the laurel family (Lauraceae) and are cultivated in tropical countries. They grow on 8 – 10 m high trees with evergreen, laurel-like leaves. Depending on the variety, the elongated, pear-shaped fruits have a thin, thick, smooth or rough skin, which may be green or brownish-red to black and encloses the whitish to green flesh. Their flavor is sweetish to nutty. The light-brown stone is as large as a walnut. It constitutes approx. 20% of the total fruit and is inedible.
Avocados have a relatively high nutritional value. Of particular note is the high vitamin content (C, B1 and B2) and carotene content (provitamin A).
The fruits weigh approx. 400 g and reach a size of approximately 10 cm.
Oil content: the fruit flesh contains 15 – 30% oil, “avocado oil”, which is similar to olive oil and lends the pulp its buttery consistency.
Avocados do not become soft and ripe enough to eat on the tree, so they are picked at the pre-climacteric stage while firm.
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.
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