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Creamy Avocados

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The California Avocado crop will be ending any day now. California produced only half the avocados this year compared to 2010, which was a big bumper crop year. Experts say a hard freeze in January 2007, wildfires later that year, a 30 percent water cutback when avocado trees require a lot of water, poor pollination, pest infestations, and the trees’ tendency to bear alternately heavy and light crops have now taken their toll. Simple supply and demand has driven the prices up. California Avocado season will start again February in San Diego and move up into the Santa Barbara area in May/June. The cycle of maturation means that the first crop of avocados won’t be as rich in oil content, but they need to come off the trees to make room for the 2nd more flavorful crop.

California avocados have a high oil content which gives us that rich flavor we love. You can find California Avocados at stores through mid-October compared to past years when they were available through February. After that we can look for the Hass variety from Chile and Mexico to keep our cravings satisfied. The oil content of the imported Hass will not be as high as the California Haas because they are picked young in their cycle so they can be shipped internationally and not ripen before they reach the stores.

Avocado maturity is not the same as ripeness. It is hard to know when an avocado is mature enough to be picked. The skin will lose some of its glossiness but a mature fruit will slice smoothly and the seed coat will be thin and brown instead of fleshy and white. An immature fruit will not have the oily flavor we associate with a good avocado and may even taste watery or bland. Other signs of an avocado picked before maturity are uneven ripening where part of the fruit is soft, the flesh towards the stem is sunken or the flesh will cling to the pit. Look for big shoulders at the top of the avocado near the stem with a round or full shape. Avocados should be ripened at room temperature. To speed up the process you can put an avocado in a paper bag with an apple. Firm fruit that is light green will take about 5-7 days to ripen. Fruit that is dark green and starting to soften will take about 2-5 days to ripen. Dark green or black skin that yields to gentle pressure at the stem is ripe and will keep in the refrigerator for a few days. Avocados should be stored at a moderate temperature of 45-55 degrees. Putting Avocados in the coldest part of your refrigerator will “burn them”. Black spots that appear in the flesh are caused by storage in cold temperatures so make sure to take the avocado out of the refrigerator to finish ripening. If you want to prepare the avocado in advance press plastic wrap onto the surface of the avocado to keep the air out. You can also squeeze lemon or lime juice on a cut avocado with the pit still intact. Place in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator.

I know I am personally waiting for those delicious California Avocados to come back in season!

Click here for Avocado recipes

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