About Avocado

Avocado

(Persea americana) An import from the Americas which grow easily in tropical Asia. Also known as avocado pear (it is no relative of the pear but has a similar shape) and alligator pear (some varieties have knobbly skin like that of an alligator). In Asian cuisine, avocado is used in desserts. It makes beautifully smooth ice cream and milk shakes. In its simplest form the ripe fruit is scooped out of its shell, mashed smoothly and mixed with sweetened condensed milk to taste, since fresh cream is not available in many Asian countries. Avocado vinaigrette is a concept foreign to Asia.

Different varieties of avocado are available, and which flavor and texture vary slightly from one to the other, there are no dramatic variations such as one comes across in mangoes where one strain is superb while another is practically inedible..

Purchasing and storing : Avocados are hard when picked and shipped off to the market. Like mangoes, they ripen off the tree. A good greengrocer usually knows which avocados are ripe and ready, and these, while firm, will yield to gentle pressure. Avocados that feel soft are too ripe and may have a rancid flavor. Avoid fruit with dark spots, or fruit with bruises. It is easier to spot these on avocados with thin green skin like 'Fuerte' and 'Sharwil' than on those varieties which are all brown bumps, like 'Haas' and 'Hazzard'.

Store avocados at room temperature and if you wish to speed up the ripening, put them in a paper bag with an apple or ripe banana which gives off ethanol gas. Close the bag tightly to keep in the gas. Another method of ripening is to put the avocado in a plastic bag and leave it in a sunny spot for an hour or two. Take care when doing this in summer - you don't want to cook the avocado.

Preparation : Always use a stainless steel knife to cut the fruit. Cut avocado in half lengthways and separate halves by gently twisting. To release the seed, hit it gently with the blade of a sharp knife, skew the knife slightly and lift the seed out. If avocado is ripe, the skin may be peeled off quite easily. Prepare avocado shortly before serving as it darkens when exposed to air.

An avocado is not a fruit for cooking. Gentle heating is all it can take without developing a metallic flavor.

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