and cooking tips and techniques:
- for the answer scroll to the end
is a common evergreen tree with large oval to elliptical
leaves, belonging to the Laurel family, which also includes
cinnamon, camphor, and sassafras. It bears a fruit that
tastes like a vegetable.
found in caves have been determined to be nearly ten
thousand years old and are cited as proof of the fruits
early use by humans. This fruit first reached Great
Britain in the Seventeenth century, but were a rarity
for nearly three hundred years after their discovery,
and did not achieve widespread popularity until Israel
took up their production on a vast commercial scale
after the Second World War. World consumption increased
substantially from 1960 to 1980, and by 1990 production
was almost 1.5 million tons! They are now grown commercially
in Israel, Turkey, Spain, France, Chile, Brazil, South
Africa, Mexico, Hawaii, Florida, Australia, California
and some Caribbean islands.
though Mexico is the worlds largest producer, the U.S.
banned importation of this fruit from Mexico for eighty-three
years, from 1914 until 1997. It is an important commercial
tree crop, which has its biggest sales days in the U.S.
around Superbowl Sunday, during which time some six
thousand tons are consumed in America. However, the
largest number of dishes that include this fruit are
found in Israel.
Martinique it is used with salt cod to make feroce
and in Africa the leaves are used to make a sparkling,
slightly alcoholic drink known as babine. Some
countries like these fruits cooked, some raw; some use
it as a hot dog topping, some use it in ice cream. They
are also used in soups (both hot and cold), sandwiches,
salads, hors d'oeuvre, and soufflés. One ancient
culture even made a special sauce containing this fruit
to use as a topping for certain worms! Leaf and seed
extracts have been used for a variety of medical applications,
including treatment of diarrhea and dysentery and as
species can withstand temperatures as low as 20ºF
if not prolonged. They do best some distance from ocean
influence, but do not do well in the desert interiors.
leaves are egg-shaped, dark green with pale veins, and
can be four to twelve inches long. Some varieties have
leaves that are scentless, while others bear leaves
that can have a pronounced anise scent when crushed
and have medicinal use. The leaves normally remain on
the tree for two to three years.
flowers are yellow or greenish. Some varieties have
flowers that open in the first morning as females, close
in the afternoon, and open the next afternoon as males.
Another variety has flowers that open in the afternoon
as female, close that evening, and reopen as male the
is borne two to three years after planting, and well
cared for trees are productive for many years. The fruit
takes nine to fifteen months to mature, and ranges in
size from that of a small gherkin weighing one ounce,
up to one foot long and four pounds in weight. The smallest
variety is seedless.
fruit of this tree is low in vitamins A and C but rich
in B vitamins and minerals. Unusual for a fruit, the
sugar content decreases rapidly during ripening.
They are high in potassium (about twice the level of
bananas) and are also sources of protein, vitamin E,
calcium, iron, magnesium and phosphorus. The average
fruit contains seventeen vitamins and minerals. They
contain nearly twice the energy of an equivalent weight
article is from Chef James Ehler of Key West, Florida.
is a webmaster, cook, chef, writer and (like me) a self-confessed
computer nerd. He is the former executive chef of Martha's
Steak & Seafood Restaurant and the former Reach Hotel
(both in Key West), the Hilton Hotel in Fayetteville,
Arkansas, and the New Bern Golf and Country Club, North
is now webmaster and cook at the Blue Heaven Restaurant
in Key West while he works on his Food Encyclopedia
(five years so far). It is well worth paying a visit
to James' food reference website which is a useful resource
well worth Bookmarking - to visit either website just
click on their title:
Food Reference Website
Blue Heaven Restaurant, Key West, Florida
you want to contact James just email him by clicking
answer : Avocado
Avocados will not ripen on the tree, but must
be cut from the tree for ripening to begin. The
leaves supply a hormone to the fruit that prevents
ripening; when the fruit is harvested this cuts
off the supply of this inhibiting substance and
starts the production of ethylene. That is why
the best way to store avocados is to leave them
on the tree, sometimes for up to seven or eight
months. Another unique feature of avocados is
that if deprived of oxygen (as in a plastic bag)
the ripening process is halted. When oxygen is
restored, the fruit will not ripen, but will get
soft and spoil.
James T. Ehler, 2001
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