Avocado, a superfood in Mediterranean cuisine
A fruit that has been on the rise in recent years. More and more dishes are prepared with the avocado. The fruit is not only sought after for its smooth – creamy, sometimes nutty taste, but also because it is packed with good nutrients.
With this article I want to provide you with some more information about varieties, nutritional values and of course the fruit itself. I got to know them when we moved to Spain in 2004. This fruit was available all year round in the grocery shops, although production in Spain is mainly concentrated between October and April. In the other months you mainly see imports from Mexico, Peru and Bolivia. But did you know that you can also just leave the avocado hanging on the tree to extend the harvest months? Indeed, those who have a garden with their own avocado trees simply pick according to their own consumption. For example, we often receive a few avocados from locals while the harvest season has already ended.
WHERE DOES THE AVOCADO COME FROM?
The avocado originated in Mexico and Peru and was gradually introduced to Latin America and southern Europe. Mexico is still the largest producer of the avocado.
The name avocado comes from the Aztec language “ahuacatl”, which means “testicle”. A clear reference to its shape and “looks” which made it also thought that it was an aphrodisiac…? The Spaniards introduced the avocado after the discovery of America. Valencia would be the first city in Europe to start producing this fruit.
Currently, these are the countries where the avocado is grown:
There are many varieties of this fruit that are now grown almost all over the world. Some of the avocado varieties you can find are: Lamb Hass, Hass, Fuerte, Criollo, Zutanto, Nabal 10, Pinkerton, Bacon, Choquette, etc.
The one that is more widely consumed in Europe is the Hass variety. This is characterized by a weight between 140 and 400 grams. Its color is purple to black and it has a thick skin with a very rough texture.
THE AVOCADO CULTIVATION
For cultivation, the avocado needs some specific conditions that are not found in all regions. In Spain, it is the coast of Malaga and Granada that accounts for 90% of the national avocado production.
This large production in this area makes it one of the most abundant food products in the Mediterranean diet. The avocado is produced here in quantities of around 50 and 80,000 tons. The harvest takes place between the months of October and May. The tree roots are very superficially and the roots have very little root hair. As a result, the avocado tree’s ability to absorb water is limited and there is a great need for a regular water supply. Producing one kilogram of avocado can require up to 1000 liters of water, which is a major disadvantage in this region…
IS AVOCADO A VEGETABLE OR FRUIT?
A frequently asked question and which often leads to discussions. Botanically speaking, the avocado is one of the fruits. It is a pear-shaped berry with a pit and grows on a tree. Fruit, however, is often sweet or sour in taste and the avocado is not. Just like the tomato (technically a fruit but culinary a vegetable), the avocado is doubtful… The avocado is eaten raw and often served as a side dish or in salads, making it more of a vegetable.
BENEFITS OF AVOCADO:
Avocado is a food packed with vitamins, potassium and folic acid. The folic acid in avocado supports the production of serotonin (= happy hormones). This gives you more energy and reduces depression.
Boost your immune system
Avocados are packed with fiber, which keeps your digestive tract in good shape. This is important because the gut is the engine to fight bacteria and viruses. Consequently, the avocado also helps prevent diseases and other infections.
Beneficial for the heart
The avocado helps raise the good cholesterol and reduce the bad. One avocado is good for about 358 kcal and contains 35 grams of fat. These are unsaturated fats that help to lower the LDL cholesterol in the blood. This greatly promotes the reduction of atherosclerosis and heart-related diseases.
The high amount of fiber makes it a very suitable fruit in a healthy diet. It has a blood sugar lowering effect and its high fiber content facilitates intestinal transit and reduces constipation.
It can be said that avocado is considered by many to be a superfood, because of all the properties it has and the healthy benefits.
Avocado fruits are mainly eaten raw. The discoloration of the flesh when exposed to the air (oxidation) is counteracted by rubbing or mixing the fruit with, for example, lemon juice.
SOME MORE TIPS:
- Did you buy an unripe avocado then you can speed up the ripening process by putting the fruit in a paper bag together with eg. a banana or apple and keep it at room temperature until it is ready to eat. I usually put hard avocados in my fruit bowl with the other fruits for a couple of days, then in the fridge.
- How do you cut an avocado? Cut the avocado lengthwise down to the pit and all around. You make two halves, still connected to the pit. Twist the halves in opposite directions to separate them. Remove the pit by smacking it with the edge of a knife, twist and pull it out.
I am Patricia, energetic 40'er, architect, business manager and food blogger. Living in Andalusia but from Flanders - Belgium. Mother of 2 active and creative kids who, together with my husband Geert, form the tasting team of the first order!
Cooking has become a passion. Everything starts with devising an original recipe and that’s when my love for food photography & styling comes across… In my blog you will get to know my healthy Mediterranean fusion cuisine!
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