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The avocado is a delicately-flavoured, subtropical fruit that is best eaten when the flesh has ripened to the consistency of soft butter and is light yellow-green in colour. The large, brown-skinned stone and the thick green or black skin are never used. However, if you place the base of the stone in water until it sprouts roots and shoots, and then plant it in soil, it will grow into a small, decorative tree.

The fruit of a small to medium-sized tree native to Central America, avocados are now widely grown in tropical and subtropical areas such as the southern states of America, Mexico, Israel, South Africa and Australia.

Avocados are exceptionally rich in protein, Vitamin A and Vitamin B. Although high in calories, they have almost no carbohydrate content. They also contain a rare, highly digestible oil which is not found in other fruits.

The flesh of the avocado can be used in salads, sauces, soups and desserts. Diced or sliced, avocados are an attractive garnish for clear soups and hot dishes.

To halve an avocado, cut in half lengthways round the stone. Holding the two halves, gently twist them apart. Then remove the stone with the point of a knife. To prevent the flesh from darkening, rub it with a little lemon juice. Half an unpeeled avocado filled with a chicken or seafood salad, or with curried meat or chicken, tastes as good as it looks.

The most simple avocado recipe is the fruit eaten by itself with an oil and vinegar dressing.

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