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Gem avocados are pear-shaped with rough, thick, black skin that is flecked with gold, weighing an average of 7-11oz. Known for rivaling hass in quality, Gem avocados have a fantastic, rich flavor. Avocado trees are bushy evergreen trees with large leaves. The Gem avocado tree is a semi-compact, vase shaped tree that bears the fruit mostly in clusters interior in the tree, protecting them from the elements. Gem avocado trees have good production and are less prone than hass varieties to alternate bearing, in other words an abundant crop one year but not the next. Unlike most fruits, the avocado does not ripen on the tree and so it can be stored on the tree for several months, allowing the grower to have more control over the harvest volume. Gem avocados hold particularly well on the tree.
Gem avocados are available mid-spring through early fall.
The Gem avocado was named after the initials of University of California researcher Grey E. Martin who selected the variety. Being comparable in quality, the Gem avocado is sometimes mistaken as hass in markets. The avocado is botanically a berry and it belongs to the laurel family. It is scientifically referred to as Persea americana Mill., with Persea being the genus, americana the species, and Miller the name of the first scientist to print a description of the fruit. The avocado species have generally been further divided into three races: Mexican, Guatemalan, and West Indian.
Avocados have a reputation as being high in fat, and indeed they are second only to olives among fruits in oil content, but their oil is high in monounsaturated fatty acids, which are relatively healthy and tend to reduce blood cholesterol. Hence, avocados provide “good” fats, as well as nearly twenty different essential nutrients, including fiber, potassium, Vitamin E, B-vitamins, and folic acid. They also act as a nutrient booster, enabling the body to absorb more fat-soluble nutrients in other foods that are eaten alongside it.
Avocados are most famous for their use in guacamole, one of the most popular dishes of Mexico. Guacamole is made by pureeing avocados with onions, spices, lime juice and more, depending on the recipe. Avocados are best used raw, and can simply be cut in half and topped with a squeeze of lemon juice or seasoned with salt and pepper, and they also go well in sandwiches and salads. They can even be used in desserts such as ice cream or mousse. Avoid exposure to direct heat, namely broiling, and cook avocados only briefly or simply add them toward the end of long-cooking dishes. Ripe avocadoes can be stored at room temperature for 2-3 days. Only fully ripe avocados should be refrigerated to slow the process of decay. To store a cut avocado, preserve its color by spraying or brushing the exposed surfaces with lemon juice, cover with plastic wrap to seal out exposure to air, and refrigerate.
South Africa has been promoting and marketing the Gem avocado as one of their commercial varieties. Soon after the Gem avocado’s debut on the American market, University of California, Riverside (UCR) licensed Westfalia Fruits, a leading South African fruit supply company, to market the variety as the primary licensee for Gem avocados around the world. UCR has developed several other avocado varieties since the early 1980’s including gwen, sir prize, lamb hass, and more.
The Gem avocado is a selection from seedling of the gwen variety that was planted in the late 1980s and developed by Gray E. Martin. Almost all varieties of avocado trees can be successfully grown throughout California in areas with mild winters. All avocado trees need to be protected from heavy frosts and strong winds, and they should be planted in sunny locations with well-drained soil. The Gem variety can grow worldwide wherever growing conditions are comparable to Southern California's.