You love guacamole, you devour avocado toast—but how much do you really know about avocados? While the creamy, fatty green fruit has seen its popularity soar in recent years, we’re betting you could use a crash course in its fascinating history and some tips on how best to select, store and enjoy it. Here are some surprising facts and user-friendly tips to get the most bang for your avocado buck.
1. Avocado is not just a fruit; it’s actually a berry.
If you want to get technical, a berry is defined as “a fleshy fruit produced from a single ovary.” By this definition, not only does an avocado qualify as a berry, but honest-to-goodness strawberries do not. Mind blown!
2. The most popular avocado was developed by a mailman.
Rudolph Hass was a California postal worker in 1925 when, enticed by a magazine illustration of avocado trees with dollar bills hanging off them, he spent his life savings on a small avocado grove. When he ran out of money to expand, he turned to grafting to increase his tree supply. Eventually he developed a new kind of avocado that grew more quickly and delivered a better taste. Hence, the Hass avocado was born.
3. You can thank Australia for your avocado toast obsession.
“The thing of putting things on toast is very Australian,” chef Chloe Osborne told The Washington Post in May. (Her New York hotspot Cafe Gitane introduced the avocado toast craze stateside.) “It stems from the British breakfast. Fresh tomatoes on toast has been an Australian breakfast for a long time.”
4. Avocado toast has led to generational warfare Down Under.
Aussie millennials didn’t take kindly to a baby-boomer newspaper columnist who harangued them this fall for wasting money on everyone’s favorite, Instagram-friendly food trend. “I have seen young people order smashed avocado with crumbled feta on five-grain toasted bread at $22 a pop and more...How can young people afford to eat like this?” Bernard Salt opined in TheAustralian. “Twenty-two dollars several times a week could go towards a deposit on a house.” Salt was quickly mocked on social media, where critics pointed out that, given average Aussie home prices, his down-payment savings plan would only take 175 years. Meanwhile, a Melbourne cafe responded by offering a $10 avocado toast special called “The Retirement Plan.”
5. Avocados are hot (and we don’t just mean cool).
If your fatty fruit fenced? It may be if you bought it in New Zealand, where avocado thefts are on the rise due to supply shortages, price surges and that unstoppable avocado-toast trend. This year alone, there’s been at least 40 large-scale avocado heistsin Kiwi country.
6. An avocado shortage may also be hitting America.
Thanks to droughts in California and an avocado growers’ strike in Mexico this fall, CNBC reported last month that prices have doubled or even tripled in the U.S. this year.
7. Avocados may be the new fountain of youth.
An October 2016 studyfrom Washington University School of Medicine found that green-hued superfoods—including cucumber, broccoli, edamame, cabbage and avocado—contain a natural compound that can cells’ declining ability to produce energy as people age. The compound not only improves bone density, liver and eye function and other internal indicators of good health, but also can lead to a slimmer look due to its metabolism-stoking properties.
8. When buying avocados, brown is better.
Though they’re typically described as green inside and out, you should refrain from buying green avocados at the grocery store. “Choose avocados which are firm, and look for those which are undamaged and free from bruises. Hass avocados should be dark brown rather than green; this indicates ripeness,” says Lucy Jessop, author of The Goodness of Avocado: 40 Delicious Health-Boosting Recipes. “Hold the avocado in the palm of your hand, and gently squeeze, it should yield slightly. Never prod an avocado as they bruise easily.”
9. Need to ripen an avocado fast? Brown bag it with a banana.
“Both bananas and avocados release ethylene gas,” explains Jessop. “When contained in the bag, the gas helps speed up the ripening process.” Conversely, if you want to slow down the ripening process, store your avocados in the fridge.
10. There’s an avocado variety called Bacon Avocado.
Ready to expand your avocado horizons? While Hass avocados are the norm, other varieties to look out for include Lamb Has, Pinkerton, Gwen, Zutano and—yes—Bacon.
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