Get to Know the Avo

What do sassafras, bay leaves, cinnamon, and avocados have in common? Weirdly enough, they are all part of the same family tree…literally. The Laurel family includes thousands of different tree species, including avocado. And what’s even weirder is that while avocados are often prepared and eaten like vegetables, from a botanical perspective, they are very much a fruit. But unlike most of the fruits you’re familiar with, none of the hundreds of avocado varieties have a particularly sweet flavor, which makes them the perfect addition to any of McAlister’s Deli’s signature sandwiches.

The most popular types of avocado are Hass, Reed, Lamb-hass, Pinkerton, Gwen, Fuerte and Bacon. Yes, bacon. And while each of these varietals has the same health benefits that our favorite buttery, green wonder has become famous for, there are some big differences between them.

The go-to avocado, Hass (pronounced like “pass” with an H), turns purplish-black when ripe, can be harvested year-round, has a richer taste and creamier texture due to a higher fat content than the other types of avocados, and it accounts for 95% of the avocados consumed in the US. In fact, Americans love the Hass avocado so much that 1.93 billion pounds are imported from Mexico each year. That’s a lot of guacamole.

While the other kinds of avocados make up only a small fraction of produce aisles around the world, they are equally delicious. Fuerte avocados are buttery and have light green flesh, even after ripening. Bacon is more yellow-green and Lamb-hass has a nuttier taste.

The different avocado varietals and their unique flavors all have their own place in the kitchen as a healthy alternative ingredient in everything from baking, to salad dressings, and of course, as an excellent sandwich topping. So, while their place on the food pyramid is not so easy to pin down, with their delicious versatility and nutritional value, avocados assuredly have a place on any plate.