- Author: Olivia Pennington Wright, Restaurant Consultant
- Published: 11/20/2018 11:32:53 AM
California vs Florida Avocados - We ask which Avocado is Best for the Restaurateur
There’s been quite some interest as of late about avocados and as such, I’ve taken the time to write a short article about all things avocado. I’ll be looking at the health benefits of avocado, the different types of avocado and their nutritional differences, as well as how best to use different varieties in various recipes.
Health Benefits of Avocados
If you target health-conscious customers, then it’s certainly worth putting avocados on your menu if they aren’t already. Avocados have so many health benefits they are considered superfoods by many.
What is a superfood exactly? It’s simply a food containing a high quantity of nutrients and antioxidants. They can prevent illness and diseases in a number of ways as well as boosting the immune system. Avocados contain large quantities of iron and potassium as well as Vitamin K, C, B5, B6, and E. With all those micronutrients and antioxidants, avocados can boast a number of health claims:
- They are loaded with Monounsaturated Fatty Acids making them heart healthy
- They are loaded with fiber so they are great for your digestive system
- Eating avocados can reduce triglyceride and cholesterol levels and help control hypertension.
- Avocados contain powerful antioxidants that protect our eyes
- Avocados may also relieve symptoms of arthritis and may prevent cancer
- Avocados may help you lose weight as they are filling and delicious
California vs Florida Avocados
Having decided to put this popular and delicious superfood on your menu, you may then run into confusion about different types of avocado. There are several varieties in fact. California avocados are the most common and the ones that most of us are familiar with but Florida avocados are also popular.
So what’s the difference between the two?
When we refer to California avocados, we generally mean the Hass variety of avocado. However, while originating from one tree in California, Hass avocados are also grown in Mexico, New Zealand, and Peru. To make matters a little confusing the Hass avocado can also be grown in Florida. California or Hass avocados generally weigh around 4 to 6 ounces. They have dark pebbly skin and have yellow-green flesh which is very creamy, buttery and nutty.
Conversely, the Florida avocado is a much larger variety. These avocados usually weigh in at around ten ounces or 300 grams and may even weigh as much as a pound. The skin is bright green and shiny and the flesh is a paler green and not as rich with a milder, tropical flavor. Now, despite their larger size the Florida avocado also goes by the name the slimcado on occasion. And this is because gram per gram the Florida avocado is the slimline version. Rarely do foods of the same variety vary so much, but these are entirely different beasts, so to speak.
Side by side the stats look like nutritional facts information:
|Type Of Avocado||California||Florida|
|Cals per 100 grams||160||120|
|Fat grams per 100 grams||15||10|
|Protein grams per 100 grams||2||2|
|Total Carbohydrate per 100 grams||9||8|
As you can see the notable difference is Florida varieties have 33% less fat and 25% fewer calories than the California variety.
Benefits of Florida Avocados for the Food Service Provider
So which is the best avocado to choose? As a food service provider, it’s always good to keep costs down but not at the expense of quality. In terms of value, the Florida avocado is often cheaper per fruit and certainly cheaper in like for like weight. Currently, the Florida avocado is experiencing popularity not just because it can be marketed as the slimcado but it’s also a more eco-friendly variety requiring less water during production.
So if the Florida Slimcado is cheaper surely that’s the avocado to choose for your kitchen, right?
Not so fast, unfortunately. The two varieties have different qualities. In some recipes, you can use either avocado and enjoy experimenting (while using your MenuSano nutrition facts information software). In other recipes, one type of avocado may give better results over the other.
Best for Salads
Florida avocados are a wonderful ingredient in salads and tacos. In fact, they may be the better choice for salads when you want to retain the firm flesh. The Hass variety has a tendency to mush up in a tossed salad. Great, if you want avocado dressing; not if you want firm chunks of avocado flesh. Florida avocados are also ideal for making sushi as they are firm enough for you to slice through neatly. Either type of avocado makes great additions to healthy main course salads. Because avocados are filling, they are ideal as a main ingredient and perfect to market to vegetarian and vegan customers.
Best for Shakes
Florida avocados also make a good choice for shakes and smoothies. Because these are essential drinks there’s a limit to how much you can charge so the more economical Florida avocado makes sense. You also are not reliant on deriving creaminess or richness from the avocado, indeed you may not really want that in a healthy smoothie. If you do want a creamy yet healthy shake, you can achieve that with the addition of nonfat or low-fat frozen yogurt, bananas, almond or soya milk, and many other ingredients.
Best for Guacamole?
For guacamole, most people prefer the Californian Hass variety. For the most part, those that prefer Florida guac have acquired a taste for it because they were brought up on it. The general consensus is Haas is best for guac due to the velvety richness it provides. Also, the slimcados milder taste can be easily overpowered by classic additions such as garlic, lime, and chili.
If you want to use slimcados for guacamole the addition of a little mayo, sour cream or cream cheese can change the texture from a watery unappealing paste that just isn’t right for many people to something very tasty. I prepared a classic guacamole with California avocados and a Florida avocado guac and compared the nutrition facts information of both using MenuSano software.
Spicy Florida Guacamole
Comparing the two we can see that per portion the Slimcado guac comes in at 100 calories per portion with nine grams of fat for a portion of 91 grams. The guac made with virtually the same ingredients but using the Haas California avocado has 120 calories per portion and ten grams of fat for an 84-gram serving. So not much difference and if you prefer the Haas guacamole, for the sake of 20 calories, I’d be inclined to go for it. But if you and your customers like the lighter version, it’s definitely worth trying. Of course, this is a version made with mayonnaise you can vary that with a low-fat mayo, low-fat sour cream or low-fat cream cheese. But you still won’t bring the calorie count down much as I’ve only used one teaspoon of mayo in this four portion recipe.
Both of the guac recipes will provide you with a big fiber boost -- almost a fifth of your recommended daily amount of fiber in one small portion! They will also provide you with a good source of Vitamin C, especially the Florida version with 25% of your DV. You’ll note that the carbohydrate amount is low so if you are watching your carbs or following a ketogenic diet, then go right ahead!
If you’re thinking of experimenting with different avocados in different recipes, then you can use MenuSano to generate the nutritional analysis information of the recipe as you go. There’s no need to send your dishes off to a laboratory and wait. Just make sure you correctly add the type of avocado you used and then it’s super easy to analyze and print out your nutrition facts labels. You can learn more about the benefits of displaying nutritional facts information and how to create nutrition labels here.