This blog is for anyone and everyone who loves to eat Avocados - especially those from California! (The avocados, not you. You can be from anywhere... ;-) The "Avocado Diva" sources unique and rare avocados - and ships them to your door! There are also loads of recipes, stories about avocados - how to grow them, how to eat them, where they come from - everything AVOCADO all the time! Check out our "heritage" avocados and our "avocado of the month club".
Nothing is more frustrating than wanting to eat your delicious heritage avocado - and its not ripe yet! So here is a test we are doing at the Diva's office (we did this Friday, 7/29/11).
To ripen avocados faster - you put them in a nice, thick paper bag (we send you a great one with your order). To make it go even faster - you can put in a fruit that produces ethylene, like a tomatoes, bananas or apples.
So we were wondering what works BEST -- green bananas? Ripe bananas? or apples? We put 3 avocados into each of 3 bags - (a) with ripe bananas (b) with green bananas (c) with apples
We'll open them up on Tuesday and see which ones are the ripest and let ya'll know.
BTW - are you ever worried if you order a box of avocados from the Diva that they will go to waste? No way - we ship them right off the tree - so they are very hard (don't get damaged in shipment that way). Then we send you detailed instructions as well as a "Diva ripening bag" - so you can stagger the avocados to ripen over a long period of time.
Order some today! They are beautiful, full of minerals, protein and DELICIOUS!
If you are lucky enough to have a tree -- or get to pick from a friend's tree -- you should always CUT the stem and not just "pluck" the avocado off the tree. Why? Because plucking rips the avocado off the tree and often rips open the top of the avocado - even if just a bit. And that makes it open to "intrusion" - from bacteria, mold, pesticides, bird doo-doo - you get the idea.
By snipping the stem and leaving a bit on it (like an "outie" belly button!) - you are just being that much more careful to not get "stuff" into your avocado. Also -- you will find that the avocado ripens more evenly and you don't get those nasty, rotten "strings" going through the viens of the avocado.
One other tip -- if you buy them from a road side stand or farmer's market, etc. -- if there are no stems... its probably a stolen avocado! Someone jumped over the fence or did a drive-rip-dash in the middle of the night. That's how come SOMETIMES you can find avocados at "3 for a $1" at a roadside stand or farmer's market. And that's not fair to the small farmers and ranchers who follow the rules.
Shall we play the "what's wrong with this avocado" game again? Note the "star like" scarring on this thin, green skinned avocado.
The answer is again - there is NOTHING wrong with the flesh of this avocado. It's perfect to eat. In fact, the scarring of this avocado happened while it was still a "flower" - in the bud stage. A mite chewed on the bud while it was tiny - and caused the fruit to grow out with this star-like scar.
What does that mean for you? A. It's an indicator that no toxic insecticide for mites was used, and B. It's ok to choose this avocado and eat it (even if it doesn't look "perfect") - like you might find in the store.
Does it mean it is "organic" - no. Organic means a LOT more (e.g. - no pesiticides, no herbicides, for years and years on the ranch - its very complicated). However - the "star scar" is an indicator that the rancher is probably smaller AND doesn't over-spray.
One other note - remember that ALL avocados should be washed before you eat them. Like all fruits - they have "stuff" on the skin that could get cut into the flesh when you open them. "Stuff" like pesticides, herbicides, etc. ALSO -- even if they are organic - they will have dust, bird poo or even mite droppings! So wash with soap for at least 30 seconds (they say "sing the ABC song" = 30 seconds) then rinse well with water.
To conclude - there's NOTHING wrong with this avocado's delicious FLESH - and maybe the star-scar is even a "badge of accomplishment" - this little guy survived a nibble by a mite and grew up to be a delicious fruit with less pesticides.
Would you buy a "star scarred" avo now?! Let us know!
If you have been successful and got your pit to root and sprout - "Yeah for you!" (If you don't know what the Diva is talking about, see the blog post #1 for info).
Your avocado pit (after about 2 - 6 weeks) should look like these photos - with some white roots coming out of the bottom and a strong green sprout coming out of the top.
If it didn't work - throw it out and try again. Some people say you need to peel off the bottom brown skin OR change the water more.
Another common hint is to keep it in a bright, sunny room - but not in direct sunlight.
Once you get it to this stage - (or perhaps another week or two - with lots of roots) its time to plant it into a pot. Gather the following:
6" pot with drainage hole(s) on bottom
a piece of broken pottery or a sea shell
1/2 cup of stones or pebbles or marbles
3 or 4 cups of potting soil
1 or 2 cups of sand or perlite (or other recycled material that makes soil drain well - e.g. cut up egg cartons, cut up "peanuts" from a shipping package, etc.).
a plate or shallow pan to go under the 6" pot
Basically - remember that avocado plants are "exotic" and from tropical or subtropical places originally. They like moist air and moist soil - but they do NOT like to sit in water. So you need to MAKE a soil that drains well.
Take the pot and put a "chard" of broken pot OR a sea shell over the drainage hole - so that water can get out (e.g. - the pot hole is not plugged by a rock or marble). Next, put in the stones (pebbles, marbles) so the bottom is covered and water can drain easily out of the pot.
In another bowl or bucket - mix the soil and sand (or perlite, recycled materials, etc.) so that you have a very light soil.
Put the soil mixture in the pot on top of the rocks - fill about half way.
"Snuggle" your pit and roots into the soil (gently!) and fill it up the rest of the way (so the roots are covered) and the pit's "head" sticks out about 1/2 inch - as well as all of the green shoot. (The top of the pit should stick out of the soil).
Over the sink (or outdoors) - water the soil & your baby plant well and let it drain. Put the plate or dish under the pot so water can continue to drain. Water your plant a lot at first - but make sure it drains well. Keep in a bright, warm place - but not in direct sunlight. Always water from the top - don't let water sit in the plate.
When your plant reaches about 12" - you can gently pinch it back - and it will grow a couple of "side branches" which will be stronger. If you want it "bushy" - keep pinching the top back. If you want a taller plant or tree -- pinch off side branches (only keep 3 to 5 on it).
Once your plant fills up it's pot with healthy roots - you should repot into larger and larger pots. It's best if you can do this in the spring (when its hormones are strong and it will have a fighting chance to keep growing). In summer, use a liquid fertilizer every 2 or 3 weeks. Cut back in the winter to every 6 weeks. Always keep its soil moist but never let it "sit" in water (avocados hate that!). Keep it's leaves moist with a spray bottle (to simulate a tropical climate). They do like bathrooms and shower areas for this reason!
I'll put up another post soon about growing it into a tree, what kind of trees, pollination, etc. There's is a LOT to know about all that stuff... so keep coming back or sign up for the blog so you don't miss any!
Did you always want to grow an avocado from the pit? Wish you had your own avocado tree? Me too!
So the only challenge is -- its pretty easy to grow an avocado "plant" - but very hard to get it into a tree, let alone a tree that actually produces avocados. Some people do - but it is the exception rather than the rule.
So today - let's just get started - and in the next blog we'll explore getting it to a tree.
This is pretty simple and fun - a great project to do with your children or grandkids!
After you eat your avocado (yum!) - take the pit and carefully stick 3 or 4 toothpicks into the giant seed. Then set it over a glass of water (see photo). Make sure the pointy side is up and the rounder side is submerged in water. That's it! Keep the glass filled with water - and with some luck you'll see roots start to grow (big, ugly, white roots). Eventually, the pit will split - and a green shoot will start growing out of the top.
If you are lucky enough to get an avocado that is really, really ripe - many times the pit is already sprouting and split. I've had the best luck with those rooting out.
Come back for the next blog (or two) and the Diva will tell you how to pot it - and then try and get it into a tree form.
Have you already done this?! Did you have any luck?! If you did - send us photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Twice this week I had a "skeptical" avocado discussion. These 2 people I know are dear friends and family (here in California) and each were wondering why anyone would buy an avocado online. So here is my response. "Size matters!" (Tongue in cheek). The avocado on the left (with the label) is a typical grocery store avocado. You can see that it is MUCH smaller - about 1/3 the size of the heritage avocado (a Bacon variety) on the right.
Now not ALL of the Diva's avocados are this huge -- some varieties (like a Bacon or a Lamb) are always very large, while others (organic, Mexican variety (from Cali - but a Mexican varital)) are always small. But the point is - the Diva's avocados are premium - large, robust, bright, right from the tree. You definitely get what you pay for.
Here's a list of other reasons that people might buy our premium avocados. Can you add yours too in the comments?! The Diva wants to know...
1. You can get unique avocados you won't find in the store.
2. They come right from the tree to your house.
3. We can get real California avocados - in season - (not from storage or foreign countries) all year round, because we source many kinds (not just Hass).
This is an easy and delish recipe for breakfast (loads of protein!) or as an appetizer.
Basically - you toast some San Francisco style sourdough bread.
In a bowl or platter - you mash up a creamy style avocado or two (Bacon, MacArthur, Edrinol, or Hass all work well). Squeeze a lime, sprinkle with Diva salt - and then spread on the toast.
For breakfast - this is quick and powerful. Keeps you full and satisfied until break time - because the avocado is full of "good" fats that keep your tummy full and happy. Avocados are a great way to keep your blood sugars level - because of the high protein levels. (Doctors even recommend them for diabetes patients to help them keep their sugar levels stable).
Would you buy this avocado? What's wrong with it? What's wrong with us?
These are kind of trick questions - because this is a Bacon variety - so actually, there is nothing wrong with this avocado. The blemish is from rubbing against the bark of the tree. Yes - its pretty extreme on this one; however, the blemish won't affect the quality of it's flesh - because avocados are ROCK HARD while on the tree. Plus - almost ALWAYS Bacon avocados will have some blemishes on them (usually much smaller - but because it is so thin skinned, they always blemish).
But this avocado will NEVER make it to market. In fact, a Bacon probably won't make it to market ever - even if were perfect - because it's not "in style". Bacon's are lighter in oil and not as highly desired as Hass (the kind you see 99% of the time in grocery stores). There's nothing wrong with a Hass. There's nothing wrong with this Bacon either.
So what's wrong with us - that we don't know enough about our food to know when a locally grown product is even good or not? I'm not blaming you -- I didn't really know until I started sourcing and buying avocados that there WERE all kinds of them. I thought they were all the same! But there are over 500 varieties of avocados in California - and probably over 1,000 world wide! Biodiversity is important - to life, to foods, to the bees, to the growers, to other insects, to how we eat, to life!
So -- what's wrong with this avocado? Would you buy it? Tell me why or why not.
All Diva's seem to be constantly watching their figures ... and wanting to eat divine food at the same time, right? If you are a Diva - you probably have a fine man - and some beautiful children as well. So here's a tip from the Avocado Diva for YOU!
Establish a summer week to "Eat Like A Cave Man!" - your man will love it. Your kids will too. And YOU will secretly be including a lot of raw, yummy foods into their diets while improving your Diva curves for a week.
How? - Here's the basic plan. When we have "Cave Man Week" - we eat lots of foods that are in their most original form possible. This means loads of avocados (of course - remember that they are very high in protein and make for an excellent replacement of meat). We also eat lots of other fruits and veggies. We eat things like sunflower seeds, honey, grains, water (made into tea or infusions with simple leaves), etc.
Caveman week makes for an interesting discussion with the kids. They constantly ask the Diva-cave-woman "Is this raw? Is this processed? How could a caveman make that?! No way we can eat that!" It also opens your eyes to what kind of proteins a "caveman" would have had access to - more fish, less beef. More rabbit - less pork. Protein and fat from a fruit (like an avocado) would have been precious indeed! (No life threatening chase! No loss of arrows to get one!) Meat from a large animal would have been very rare indeed - saved for festivals - not daily consumption.
If you are lucky enough (like the Diva) to live near farms, the ocean, orchards and/or other fields - or very lucky - and grow some of your own food - these make for excellent discussion points all week. The kids and the Diva will drive out to the "pick your own" farm and select some veggies and herbs. We talk about how precious this food would REALLY be if we had to grow it ourselves for weeks and months before we could pick it and eat it.
We might go fishing at the ocean or clam digging - and eat those foods - and really appreciate the work that went into a small fish or handful of clams! (The "cave-son" really likes this part of caveman week...). We've been known to harvest a bit of kelp to put in a soup to add saltiness. Plus - my man likes it because we grill a lot (Fire! Cavemen love fire.)
So the Diva wants to know - what clever ways do you use to get your kids to eat a wide variety of foods? How do you help them connect to their "inner cave man". Leave us a comment or idea. Inquiring cave-women want to know!
(PHOTE NOTE: These are ancient "molecajetes" or grinding stones/bowls from local Chumash indians - the photo was taken at the San Luis Obispo mission museum.)
Who likes iced team in the summer?! Raise your sweaty hand.
[Read the whole blog for a special offer at the end!]
If you are from the south, you like "sweet tea" (note: not "sweetened" tea - as I have been so kindly told by a friend from the south. Bless her heart.)
So here's a super interesting twist on ice tea for this summer - you can make it from avocado leaves! Yup! The Diva brewed up this pitcher for a pool party this past weekend. You need to use leaves from the Mexican variety (Persea drymifolia) NOT the cultivars from a Guatamalan type (Persea Americana). The easiest way is to get them from the Avocado Diva (here).
Anyway - you boil up a handful of leaves in a pot (5-7 minutes) - let it cool. Strain it out - and pour over ice. If you want to - you can add avocado honey (order here). The Diva likes to do this when the tea is hot - so it will dissolve well and mix in. Then serve with a wedge of orange. The flavor of orange mingles great with the avocado leaf taste, which is reminiscent of anise.
I made two pitchers of iced tea for the party - one with traditional black leaf tea bags and one with the avocado leaves. By the end of the party - all the avocado tea was gone! The other pitcher -- it was still full.
So here's a special offer for YOU -- order anything from the Diva in July and she will ship you FREE dried avocado leaves with your order. Try out a delicious ice tea for FREE!
Actually, there are probably about 500 secrets to a great guacamole. I bet YOU have a great guacamole! Why? Because avocados are SO versatile, bland and creamy that you can add almost anything to them and make a delicious, nutritious dip.
Did you know that there are over 500 varieties of avocados? And some are better for making guacamole than others! Some are more creamy, and have a more mild flavor than others. Personally, I really like the Bacon variety - late in it's season - because it is quite creamy and very full of oil. (Avocados get more oil in them the longer they stay on the tree - kind of like grapes get more sugar the longer they stay on the vine.)
Another "chef" favorite for making "moles" (or sauces - in Spanish) is the MacArthur. This particular avocado variety is super luscious and very creamy - it makes for a delicious guacamole. You can't beat an Edrinol either. Buttery and smooth!
* Here's the fine print - you knew there had to be some...right?! But SOME of it is GOOD news! ... read on...
A. There is NO purchase required to enter the free YEAR contest (yeah!) - just comment below AND be a FB friend. (FaceBook link)
B. To get the FREE MONTH of Avocados, well - we need you to sign up and BUY a month - and stay with us for at least 3 months. We'll refund your third month. Requires you to sign up for the monthly Diva Club ($24.95, includes shipping!) - go here for all the info
C. The Diva would really appreciate it if you also sign up for this blog - but its not required. ;-)
D. We'll do the drawing and alert the winner (via FaceBook) on July 20, 2011.
E. Winner must be 18 - live in the USA . No substitutions or cash value. Just avocados. That's it.
Do you love animals? Comment what is your favorite please!
One of the best parts of being the DIVA is driving around and talking with folks - about avocados (of course!). Invariably - there are also some farm animals about. The kitty who slinks up and winds herself around your leg. (I'm allergic to cats - so they ALWAYS find me and try to wrap around my body or sit on my head... what is UP with that?!). The dogs who might snarl and growl - and the rancher who always says "Oh, he's fine. He's really nice." (Uh huh... )
My favorites are the chickens and roosters. The rooster likes to strut around his hens and look very "cocky" (get it?!) They are all about the "chicken swag". Flashy feathers, big red comb, walk'n like they are the KING. And totally say'n "Do NOT mess with my chicks! These are MY babes." They crack me up.
Then sometimes there are UNUSUAL animals. The pigmy goats, the high-rise goats, llamas, alpacas too! Alpacas seem to be very chic and popular in the back hills of Ventura County for some reason. I think they are like "purse puppies" for avocado ranchers! Just bigger. And fluffier. And stinkier.
Finally - there are usually some of the "typical" farm animals - pigs, cows, sheep, regular goats, horses. Goats seem to be a big choice for keeping the weeds down between the trees. I see lots of horses too - often tail to nose - helping keep the flies off of each-other's faces with a swish of their tails. The sheep were out in force in spring - beautiful white dots in green pastures. They are gone now - must be in other pastures or something now - I don't see much sheep now that its hotter and summertime.
Soon it will be time for the Ventura County fair - and we'll see a LOT of these animals - with their 4-H kids showing them off. This is always a great time of year here in our farm area. So -- what is YOUR favorite farm animal? Leave a note in the comments and we'll see which animals is the most popular.
Did you know you can cook with the LEAVES of certain avocado trees? Not all of them -- but a certain species or two. Chef's use the leaves to wrap meats such as pork or beef and steam cook them or put them on the BBQ for a moist, tender meat, infused with the slightly-spicy flavor of anise.
You can also use the dried leaves as a spice, much like a bay leaf (avocado trees are related to bay laurel trees). Add them to beans as they cook for a very unique, authentic Mexican flavor. (We have the recipe on our site). Consider adding them to your next stew or crock pot meal for an unique flavor that will have your family and friends asking for the recipe!
Another way to use dried avocado leaves is as a tea or infusion. The leaves have been used since ancient times to help with tummy troubles and other intestinal issues (cleansing the liver or kidneys).
Now don't think you can just go out and grab those leaves off your ground and start grinding them up. The specific kind of leaf is harvested from the native Mexican avocado "Peresea drymifolia". The leaves are used both fresh as well as dried and impart a beautiful color to boiling water. Boil water and put the leaves in (a small handful) and let steep for 5-7 minutes. Strain and drink. I like to add a nice teaspoon of avocado blossom honey as well!
People from islands (like Hawaii and the Philippines) drink the tea to help with UTIs - and comment that it brings a nice, calming effect.
So the next time you are wondering what ELSE the avocado offers -- think about not only the fruit, but it's leaves as well!
What do John Wayne and organic avocados have in common? Read the Diva's blog to find out more...
Are ALL the Diva's avocados organic? The answer to that is no and sometimes. Let me explain. The Diva sources her avocados from several small farms and ranches all over Ventura County - in order to find what we lovingly call "heritage" or "heirloom" avocados. Some farms and ranches use pesticides, others don't, some - well... let me tell you a story...
Some of these old farmers have trees like none you have never seen before. These are not the "whussie" trees, all in straight lines, all trimmed to the same shape and size. No - these are "John Wayne" like ranchers. These guys have trees that are HUGE and OLD and no ranch hand in their RIGHT MIND would climb up the ladder to get the avocados -- these trees do NOT need any pesticides!
NO, these trees are MIGHTY GIANTS. Amazing trees with amazing fruit. So are they certified organic?! NO. John Wayne is NOT going to do all that fancy, schmancy red-tape, hoop jump'n.
Imagine you are with me -- as one "John Wayne" rancher spits tobacco juice near my foot, - he explains how he NEVER uses pesticides on "that there tree". "Don't need it. Never has, never will".
On a more serious note - we DO sell some certified organic product. Right now its summer, so we can get Certified Organic Hass and Lamb. Check out this link to order some for yourself. Or if you'd rather have some "John Wayne" styled "organic" - order the Edrinol. Some poor ranch hand will climb a HUGE ladder and get you some. No extra charge for the tobacco juice.