Mmm, do I love avocados! Maybe it was growing up eating my dad’s guacamole, or maybe it’s just because they’re so tasty, healthy, and versatile. Whatever the reason, I can’t get enough of these delicious fruits.
Whether you’re already well-acquainted with these super fruits or want to start adding them into your diet, today’s post will tell you everything you need to know about avocados, including how you can start growing and harvesting your own.
Oh, and did I mention recipes? We’ll have plenty of those for you as well.
Avocado Health Benefits
I’m sure you’ve heard avocados are good for you, but what exactly makes them so healthy? For one thing, avocados contain a bunch of essential vitamins and minerals. Just a few include:
- Potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure.
- Lutein, which is important for healthy eyes.
- Folate, which can lower the risk of depression, prevent cancer, and is important for the development of healthy babies in pregnant women.
- B vitamins, which help your body fight infections.
In addition, avocados also contain high levels of fiber, which improves digestion and helps you feel full.
Finally, avocados are high in monounsaturated fats, the “good” fats that, among other things, may help lower bad cholesterol and regulate blood sugar.
With all these health benefits and many more, why wouldn’t you want to add some avocados to your diet?
Avocado Tree Care and Planting
If you decide to grow your own avocados, here’s how to make sure your trees thrive:
- Space trees at least 25 feet apart
- Plant trees in slightly alkaline, well-drained soil
- Use organic fertilizers
- Spread mulch around the bases of the trees
Also keep in mind that while it is possible to grow an avocado tree yourself from a seed, the fruit produced is usually inferior in quality to that of an already cultivated tree (the kind you would get at a nursery). Not to mention that growing a mature avocado tree from a seed can take up to five years.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not waiting that long for my guacamole.
Harvesting Your Avocados
Once your tree is bearing fruit, it can be difficult to tell exactly when the avocados are ready to pick (and eat!). The exact time depends on your specific variety, but here are a few general guidelines:
- Avocados are ready to pick before they are ready to eat.
- Fruit is ready to pick when it begins to change color–on some varieties, dark brown specks will also develop at this point.
- Once picked, it usually takes 7-10 days for an avocado to ripen.
- To tell if the fruit is ready to eat, gently squeeze it between your fingers. If it “gives” slightly, it’s ripe.
- The best place to store fruit that you are not ready to eat is on the tree, as once you pick the fruit it will ripen quickly.
- To speed up ripening, place the avocado in a paper bag overnight. Just don’t forget about it!
For more advice on harvesting, see this page or stop by the nursery and just ask.
You’ve learned about how healthy avocados are, planted your own, and harvested the fruit properly. Now it’s time for the best part: eating them!
While avocados are a delicious snack by themselves, they also shine as an ingredient in other dishes. There are thousands of avocado recipes out there, but here are a few favorite picks you might try, conveniently organized into five categories: appetizer, snack, salad, entrée, and dessert.
- Appetizer: Guacamole Sure, it seems like an obvious choice, but there’s a reason for that: guacamole is amazing! There are many competing opinions about the best way to make guacamole, but the simplest, tastiest recipe I could find is this “Real Authentic Mexican Guacamole” from Food.com user Theresa in Chi-town. Just six ingredients and takes only 15 minutes.
- Snack: Avocado Egg Rolls A bit out there, I’ll admit, but these avocado egg rolls, courtesy of The Crucian Contessa, prove that there’s far more possible with avocados than just guacamole.
- Salad: Cool Southwestern Salad with Corn and Avocado The creaminess of fresh avocado slices pairs perfectly with the crisp crunch of lettuce, onions, and corn in this refreshing salad recipe from Health.com.
- Entrée: Baked Egg in Avocado (“Eggocado”) Sliced in half and pit removed, the avocado forms a “bowl” shape perfect for holding…an egg? You have to try it to believe it, but trust me, eggocados will become your new favorite way to mix up dinner. Recipe courtesy of Eat Drink Garden.
- Dessert: Avocado Ice Cream I’ve always loved ice cream (who doesn’t?), and this avocado ice cream recipe from Alton Brown is a pleasant twist on the classic dessert, combining avocado’s creamy nuttiness with ice cream’s cool sweetness.
- Bonus: Avocado-Mango Salsa If you’ve read our previous post on the awesomeness of mangoes, you’ll know that they also have dozens of health benefits, so why not get the best of both fruits by combining the two in this delightful salsa, courtesy of Epicurious.
Ready to Start Growing Your Own Avocados?
If after reading this post you find yourself saying, “Great, but where can I get my own avocado trees?”, then come on down to the nursery and browse our selection. One of our knowledgeable staff will be happy to help you find the perfect avocado varieties for your home garden.
You can also browse our Avocado Trees page to view a full list of the varieties we stock and a brief description of each, including the time of year each tree bears fruit.
Happy growing, harvesting, and eating!