A little trivia: The most popular variety of avocado was discovered by a postman named Rudolph Hass. The original tree can still be found growing in La Habra, California. You can grow your own tree by trimming a tiny sliver off both ends of an avocado pit, covering it two-thirds in damp soil (large end down), watering well, and placing a drinking glass over the pit to keep moisture in. The pit may take a while to split, but once it does, cover the exposed part with soil. Once the plant reaches six inches in height, trim the top two inches, which should force lower growth and keep your plant hearty.
What they look like: Most varieties of avocado are oval- or round-shaped with thick, rough green skin. Depending on the type, avocados can range from three ounces to four pounds.
Selection tips: Look for fruit that is firm, yet gives when gently squeezed. If it's still hard, it's not ready to be eaten yet. Two medium avocados should yield about one pound, 2 1/2 cups sliced, diced, or chopped.
Storage tips: You may refrigerate ripe avocados until you're ready to eat them, but only for a few days. Placing an avocado in a paper bag with an apple or banana and storing it at room temperature will accelerate the ripening process if needed. Since cut and exposed avocados tend to discolor quickly, experts advise you to add cubed or sliced avocado to your dish as late as possible in the preparation process. Adding a dash of lemon or lime juice to fresh guacamole should help prevent discoloration.
How to eat them: The most popular uses for eating avocados are in guacamole and on salads, but they may also be found in other dishes such as soup. They also make great hollowed-out "bowls" for other dishes, including dips or seafood.
Peak growing season: California is responsible for 95 percent of the nation's crop of avocados. There are so many different types of avocados that you should be able to find at least one variety at any point during the year.
Health benefits: While avocados are known to be high in unsaturated fat, many believe they are worth the splurge for their great buttery taste. They are also a good source for fiber, vitamin C and other nutrients, such as thaimine, and riboflavin.
Nutritional info: One cup of sliced avocado provides: 235 calories, 7 grams of fiber, 3 grams of protein, 22 grams of fat (3.5 saturated), 15 milligrams of sodium, and 0 cholesterol.