Food and Drink

   

In Season: Avocados

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With globalisation freeing us from the constraints of seasons, avocado are available all year round, but for those of us who miss seasons, and ‘buying local’ at least means constricting our food purchases to what is grown closer to home, the main avocado season is winter-spring.

Avocados ripen only after picking, and are often still firm in shops, so you may need to plan your purchases in advance. They are ready when they have a slight give when gently pressed. Only keep them in the fridge if they are ripe and you don’t need them for a couple of days – they will not ripen while chilled.

There are a surprisingly large number of varieties grown here but the main ones are: Hass, sharwill, fuerte and reed. Fuerte is generally the first on the scene. It is a classic pear shape, has smooth, green skin which comes easily away from the rich buttery flesh. Hass has a longer season, usually lasting until November. It can be more rounded in shape, with a rougher skin which changes colour from green to purple as it ripens. Its yellow flesh has a pleasant buttery flavour. Reed are much larger, round, and are not so often found in stores but they have lovely texture and a rich flavour. Sharwill has green, rough skin and the flesh has a creamy, rich flavour.

To prepare avocadoes, cut them in half all the way around from top to bottom, twist the halves apart, and gently tap the blade of the knife into the stone, give a it a twist and the stone will come away. The rougher skinned varieties are often not so easy to peel as the skin can break into little pieces, so in that case scoop out the flesh from each half in one piece using a soup spoon. The flesh oxidises if not used within an hour or two and will turn brown. To prevent this you can brush them with lemon juice, but this causes them to go mushy over time.

Their flavour is enhanced with small amounts of salt, pepper and lemon juice, and avocados like a little chilli. Other things that go well include tomato, coriander, orange, grapefruit, hazelnuts and mild onion flavours like chives and shallots, or a touch of garlic. Mild curry dressings are good – I sometimes use a curry mayonnaise made with curry-infused oil.

Avocados ripen only after picking, and are often still firm in the shop, so plan your purchases in advance. They are ready when they have a slight give when gently pressed. Only put them in the fridge if they are ripe and you don’t need them for a couple of days – they will not ripen when chilled.

You can, like so any things, now buy your avocadoes on-line. ‘Barham Avocados’ are selling the Haas variety from now to December. They embrace sustainability as a guiding philosophy and don’t use pesticides. Details at barhamavocados.com.au.

Try this refreshing avocado and grapefruit salad (for two):

Ingredients:

12 (or so) hazelnuts

1 pink grapefruit

1 avocado

1 small bunch of watercress

20g pecorino

Chives

1 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons hazelnut oil

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

4 slices prosciutto (optional)

Method:

Make a dressing by shaking up the mustard, vinegar and oils in a small jar and season to taste.

Toast the hazelnuts in the oven, or in a frying pan, allow to cool and rub off the papery skins.

Pick the watercress leaves from the stems, wash and spin dry.

Segment the grapefruit.

Shave the cheese, using a potato peeler or a cheese shaver.

Tear the prosciutto into bite sized pieces.

Prepare and slice the avocado.

Toss together gently and arrange on plates and scatter with hazelnuts.


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