Avocados have made their way to the top of the food-trend chain — and they’re not going anywhere. That’s down to their being a powerhouse of nutrients and healthy fats, not to mention their wide culinary range. But how much do you really know about avocados? This guide will get to the, ahem, pit of all things related to this green supreme, which is, botanically speaking, a very large berry. Yes! A fruit!
Health Benefits of Avocados
Avocados are loaded with more than 20 different vitamins and minerals. Of note? Avocados are a good source of folate, magnesium, and potassium; vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K and a handful of B vitamins.
They’re also loaded with fat; in fact, avocados are one of the fattiest plant foods in the world. But it’s the good kind of fat, specifically monounsaturated oleic acid. This heart-healthy fatty acid that has been shown to reduce cholesterol and fight heart disease.
Need even more reasons to love avocados? They’re high in antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin, which promote eye health and protect against conditions like cataracts. They’re filled with fiber: Just one will give you your daily dose of this important nutrient that’s good for your metabolism and blood sugar levels. And they also have more protein and less sugar than most other fruits.
We’d say that’s a pretty good reason to make yourself some avocado toast right now.
Types of Avocado
Chances are you’ve encountered a Hass avocado before. This is the most popular and common variety, grown in California and available all year round. It has a buttery, nutty flavor and oval shape.
But the Hass avocado (and the typical produce aisle) only offers a small glimpse into the avocado options the world has to offer. Avocados come in all sorts of sizes and flavors. Here are just a few you might find; if you do, pick one up and try it!
- Mexicola Grande: Known for its smaller shape and glistening black skin, the Mexicola Grande is slightly sweet and juicy inside. It’s in season from August through October.
- Fuerte: Fuerte, which means “strong” in Spanish, is another California favorite. It has a perfect pear shape with a creamy flavor similar to a hazelnut and can be found in most seasons.
- Choquette: This Floridian avocado can weigh up to two pounds and has silky flesh that seems to bleed a lime-green juice when cut. It’s in season from October to January.
- Bacon: This avocado has a lighter taste than other varieties and is identifiable by its pale yellow-green skin. It’s in season from August through October.
How to Pick a Perfectly Ripe Avocado
Picking the perfect avocado varies by type so the first step is to know what’s in season (see above). This is also the best way to make sure you’re making the most sustainable choice.
Here’s what else to look for in a ripe, ready-to-eat avocado.
- Color: As a general rule, most avocados change from a dark green to a black/brown when ripe. Those bright green avocados? They’re several days away from being edible.
- Touch: By giving the avocado a light squeeze you should be able to tell its ripeness. It will feel slightly soft but not “mushy” to the touch. A mushy avocado is past its prime.
- Navel: Look for the little button on the bottom of your avocado, if you can pick the naval off easily, it’s ripe and ready to eat!
Pro tip: If you bought an avocado that isn’t ripe, and want to speed up the ripening process, place the avocado in a brown paper bag with another piece of fruit, like an apple or banana. This speeds up the fruit’s production of ethylene gas, which naturally promotes ripening. When sealed and stored at room temperature, this method can soften up the stiffest of avocados in about 1 to 3 days. The more fruit you add, the faster your avocados will ripen.
How to Save the Other Avocado Half & More Avocado Tips
Sometimes you want a whole avocado. Other times you just want half. For those occasions, here’s how to save that coveted other half—which ultimately means saving you a lot of money, too: Remove the pit and coat the flesh with fresh lemon juice. Wrap it in plastic wrap and place in the fridge. Alternately, submerge your avocado half in water. Place it flesh-side down in a container, cover with water, and place in the fridge. Both methods will keep the avocado from turning brown for about two days.
If your avocado is already ripe but you aren’t planning on eating it quite yet, simply place the whole fruit in the refrigerator. This will buy you a few more days of deliciousness. And, if your avocado is just beginning to brown, you can bring it back to life with a sprinkle of fresh citrus. Recipes like smoothies, dressings or baked goods are great ways to use an over-ripened avocado.
Pro tip: Don’t throw out that pit. It’s edible and nutritious and will make your smoothies extra creamy.