A tropical fruit with a very Mediterranean stamp
The avocado is a subtropical fruti that has managed to stay in the area of Malaga during the last decades. Although there are some important producers in areas such as Valle del Guadalhorce and Sierra de las Nieves, the biggest concentration of avocados is found in the region of Axarquía, especially in its coastline. In some municipies like Vélez-Málaga, Iznate, Algarrobo, Nerja o Torrox, avocados have become one of the most important farming products in Andalucía. In fact, more than 6.000 hectares are used for their growth, producing near 60 million kilos of avocado every year.
Even though there are around 250 varieties of avocado in the world, the one that has adapted better to the eastern part of Malaga is the Hass.
This type of avocado is known as ‘the fruit of the heart’. And not only because it resembles the organ but also for its health benefit. Its consumption reduces cholesterol and protects the cardiovascular system. This variety changes from green to dark purple (almost black) when ripening. It has a hard, thick and rough skin. Its flesh is yellow-green, with a taste similar to nuts. The Hass avocado is characterized by its smaller size but a bigger flesh. Its harvest starts in winter and continues until spring. Other species of the avocado that frequently appear are the Bacon avocado and the Reed avocado. The first one has a thick, dark green skin and is recognizable by its narrow and long body. Its rich in fats and lasts longer than any other varieties of this tropical fruit. It is harvested between November and February. On the other hand, the Reed avocado differs from the others by its bigger size and its rounder shaper. The color of its skin is bright green, while its flesh has a softer smelll that others avocados that are sold in Malaga. They are harvested from April to July, aproximatly. Nowadays, there are some important companies that sell avocados in the region of Axarquía, that distribute this fresh product —although in some cases, they also sell the product in the form of guacamole. With all of that, this region of Malaga has become the main supplier of avocados for Europe.
Nowaydays, the area where this product is most grown is in Axarquía. There, the most important area is the costline, with a more suitable weather for the varieties cultivated there. This is the case of Benamargosa, Benamocarra or Vélez-Málaga, located near the valley of río Vélez. Besides these towns, there are other important ones such as Rincón de la Victoria, Izante, Frigilianda or Nerja, among others. Outside Axarquía, this product can also be found in Istán and in some other villages from valle del Guadalhorce.
It was first introduced as crop from the Estación Experimental de la Finca La Mayora, located in Vélez-Málaga in the decade of the 70s. During this half a century, not only this has become a major source of income for hundreds of farmers but also has it modified the landscape of this area. This can now be seen in the designated Ruta del Sol y del Agucate, a very consolidated itinerary in Axarquía.
Originary from South America, it is considered one of the best foods in the world due to its antioxidants values. Moreover, it does not contain saturated fat and it provides the organism with monosaturated fats. The high content in oleic acid combined with the monosaturated fats helps to regulate our level of cholesterol. It has also an interesting dermatologic uses, through the production of avocado oils.
The avocado tastes well both with sweet and savory flavours. It is usally eaten raw in salads, as a side for other dishes, fillings, in soups, gazpachos, jams, combined with frutis, in smoothies (in Benamargosa, they use them to create the so-called ‘baticate’) and, of course, guacamole. Companies from Malaga that turn them into this traditional Mexican recipe add very Mediterranean ingredients, like olive oil or some herbs. Other products are also created after this harvest, like an oil for dematologic use or a honey made with the flower of the avocado, known by its dark colour and its richness in iron.