Avocado is a highly nutritious and universal fruit that thrives in both temperate and sub-tropical zones in the world. Grown in Kenya and South Africa, African avocados have a soft, creamy texture and a mild, exquisite flavour. With an average total oil content of between 16% to 21%, the fruit is an internal lubricator and is good for healing ulcers. It is high in lecithin, which is a natural “brain food” and a readily digested fat.
Avocados are generally pear-shaped, but depending on the variety, avocados can be as round as an apple, or as oblong as a cucumber. They have a delicate skin that is generally green, but can span a wide range in terms of colour and texture. Beneath the skin lies the flesh, which is pale green and creamy, and the flesh in turn, surrounds the large inedible core of the fruit.
Avocados are best stored at room temperature, and consumed soon after they are cut. When avocados are cut open, the process of oxidation begins, which is why the exposed flesh turns brown. To store a cut avocado, leave the pit inside and brush a mild acid like lemon or lime juice on the flesh, and then wrap tightly with a food wrap like clingfilm.
The main varieties of avocado grown in Africa are the following:
- Hass:-The origin of the Hass avocado is thought to be Californian, and although its’ exact size depends on where it is grown, it has an average length of four inches, and possesses a dark, and almost black skin. Inside, its’ flesh is pale green and creamy, with a nutty flavour that pairs well with the strong flavour of onions or fragrant herbs.
- Fuerte: This is a hybrid variety grown in Kenya, although it is thought to have originated in the Mexican state of Puebla. The name Fuerte, which means strong in Spanish does not refer to the flavour of the fruit, which is quite mild, compared to the Hass avocado. However it is believed the avocado earned the name Fuerte, after surviving a rather terrible Californian frost during the winter of 1911. The Fuerte avocado has a green-textured skin, and on average is about five inches long.
- Nabal: The Nabal avocado is a large, spherical avocado with a smooth skin that is dark green with bright green flecks on it. The large stone inside is surrounded by yellow flesh. The Nabal avocado has a very delicate flavour, which lends itself best to being savoured on its own, on a dark granary toast with nothing more than a sprinkling of sea salt.
- Puebla: The Puebla avocado is another very green variety that is grown in Kenya. It has a thin, purple-like skin, with a flavour that is quite nutty and earthy, which makes it the perfect ingredient for a dip, or a sauce.
The main season for Kenyan and South African avocados is March to September with the Fuerte variety available from mid-March and the Hass variety being available from June through to September.