Monday, August 13, 2012

Pickled Avocados


Do you ever find yourself with too many ripe avocados on your hands? Or perhaps you see them for sale at the store or a road side stand and wish you could take advantage of that opportunity? 

If you do -- here's something to try -- you might find yourself a way to enjoy some avocados in mid-winter by preserving them with an old fashioned method - pickling!  Let us know if you try it and how it works out for you. 

Cut up summer avocados - pre pickled

PICKLED AVOCADOS - RECIPE

Pickling a fruit is a time honored way to preserve it for future enjoyment. I've experimented with pickling avocados in the 'fridge and they turn out salty and vinegary with a garlic hit as well as a small kick from the chili. It's an excellent way to take advantage of those opportunities when a neighbor gives you extra avocados OR you find them on sale in the market. 

INGREDIENTS:
2 or 3 ripe (but not too ripe) avocados
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, sliced 
1 jalapeƱo pepper, de-seeded and sliced thinly

DIRECTIONS:
1. In a saucepan over medium heat combine all ingredients EXCEPT for the avocados and bring to a boil for about 2 minutes, stirring to make sure sugar and salt is dissolved.
2. Cool mixture to room temperature (in fridge or on counter). 
3. When the pickling liquid is cool, peel and pit your avocados. You can leave in large chunks, or in whole slices - your choice. 
4. Put the avocado into a shallow dish and pour the pickling liquid over it. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator overnight.  
5. The avocados are ready to eat the next day -- and can last a long time in the refrigerator, in a covered jar, plastic bowl with lid, etc. 

SERVING SUGGESTIONS:
1. The pickled avocados are delicious on their own! 
2. You can also serve them like you would pickled cucumbers or olives - on an appetizer plate with other fresh and pickled veggies.
Post pickle - after being in 'fridge overnight
3. They are delicious served on top of toasted sour dough bread or French bread. 
4. Pickled avocados are excellent on top of a lettuce salad. Mix some of the pickling liquid with avocado oil or olive oil for a dressing. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

New World Chicken




I adapted this recipe from a “Mediterranean Diet” recipe so that it uses California avocado 3 ways in order to take advantage of the healthy properties in avocados – the “New World’s” answer for olives. I also use California olives, California wine and California lemon too.

In this one pot meal, we will use avocado oil, avocado leaves and finish with chopped avocado (instead of sour cream).

Avocado oil has a very high smoke point – so the benefits of the oil are not lost when cooking with it as easily (like can happen with olive oil or other oils that have lower smoke points).  Avocado oil is known to help block the absorption of cholesterol in the intestines. It also is full of antioxidants, such as vitamin E (also good for coronary health and skin softness). Additionally, avocado oil has a host of other vitamins and minerals that work together – such as glutathione –which helps regulate other antioxidants, such as vitamin C and E.  (Source: California Avocado Commission).

INGREDIENTS:
 
2 tablespoons avocado oil
8 chicken thighs or drumsticks
1 or 2 brown onions, sliced
1 jar of mixed olives (Californian – with pits)
1 can diced, roasted tomatoes
1 cup whole, small tomatoes
10 garlic gloves, peeled
½ cup California red wine (merlot is great)
1 lemon
salt, pepper, and paprika
1 ripe avocado, cubed

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a Dutch oven, heat the avocado oil to about 350. While it’s heating, sprinkle the chicken parts with salt, pepper and paprika.  (I personally like to use my Diva Salts – with 5 kinds of sea salts and paprika already in it.)  Fry the chicken to get the skin crisp – then remove to a plate with paper towels to drain.
2. In the oil – cook the sliced onions until browned and wilted. Remove and pour off the remaining oil. Deglaze the pan with the wine, scraping off any delicious brown bits of chicken and onions. Squeeze the lemon into the wine and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until the alcohol is diminished.
3. Add to the wine/lemon mixture: drained olives, can of tomatoes, cup of whole tomatoes, garlic cloves and the 2 avocado leaves. Return the onions and toss to mix. Snuggle the chicken pieces down into this mixture and return to a hot simmer (bubbles are coming up).
4. Reduce to a simmer and put on the back burner for anywhere from 2 – 5 hours.

TO SERVE:

Dish up vegetables and discard the avocado leaves. Top with cubes of avocado. Add one or two pieces of chicken - it will be falling off the bone!

Serve with a glass of the wine you cooked with and a crusty loaf of bread. The cooked garlic cloves are highly prized to spread on the bread.

Makes 4 servings



Sunday, June 10, 2012

Are Avocados GMO?!

A normal (yet large) winter avocado next to a normal sized Hass
I often get asked if there are any genetically modified organism (GMO) avocados.

In short, the answer is NO... not yet (as of June 2012).

Here's the longer answer....

A. GMO means: "genetically modified organism (GMO) or genetically engineered organism (GEO) is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. These techniques, generally known as recombinant DNA technology, use DNA molecules from different sources, which are combined into one molecule to create a new set of genes. This DNA is then transferred into an organism, giving it modified or novel genes. Transgenic organisms, a subset of GMOs, are organisms that have inserted DNA from a different species. GMOs are the constituents of genetically modified foods." 


B. Avocados - like most agriculture - has been hybrid throughout generations to make the fruit more and more desirable for consumption and for marketing. The "original" avocados found in South America were tiny, had huge pits and not too much flesh. They sometimes had edible skins and often the leaves and bark were edible too - or at least useful as medicines or as a spice/flavoring. You can see a descendant of an original avocado, with a thin edible skin, and it's fresh & dried leaves below.

A "Mexicola" avocado with it's leaves (used like bay leaves)
C. Hybridization is NOT the same as changing a fruit (or animal) at its DNA level. It is also NOT the same as adding or replacing part of the DNA chain from one species to another. Hybrids are from mixing the pollen of one fruit with the pollen of another; in fact - bees do it ALL the time.  Farmers do it on purpose, to (hopefully) create a fruit (or veg) that has the desired characteristics.

D. An example - to make the pit smaller, to make the skin tougher, to make the fruit sweeter or nuttier, etc.  As of today, there are over 1,500 varieties of avocados throughout the world. In California - we have over 500 varieties! The most "common" or well known is the avocado called the "Hass".  (So - just because an avocado is small or HUGE does NOT mean its a GMO... just FYI).  Please visit my website www.AvocadoDiva.com to see and order many of these varities.

E. The Hass was also the first avocado with a patent. 85% of the fruit sold in the USA is a Hass. The Hass is a great avocado for the packing houses and the grocery stores - as it has several characteristics that make it ideal for picking, packing, shipping and display - most notibably that is has a thick (but not too thick), rough skin that turns black as it ripens. Thus the consumer knows its ready to eat AND it can handle the rough conditions of packing, shipping, handling and display.  It is also very tasty. But is it THE best avocado? Not in my opinion ;-)  I do love Hass at the height of it's season (June, July, August) -- but other varieties are more delicious at the height of THEIR seasons (you can visit www.AvocadoDiva.com for more info on that).

F. Finally -- there HAVE been attempts to create a GMO avocado - that would better resist the funguses that cause the most damage to the trees.  Those attempts have not worked out (yet). At the present time, there are NO GMO avocados or avocado trees being sold or marketed. There are FALSE reports on the internet (usually about the Florida variety of avocado - marketed as a "Slim-cado").  The Slim-cado is simply a different variety - huge, bright green and very watery - that has grown in Florida for decades. These types of "watery" avocados are known the world over - and often used in desserts, shakes, and such (e.g. - in the Philippines and Brazil these types are more common).

G. If and when a GMO avocado comes out -- it may be in India (first) -- they seem to be the most interested in the attempts. The scientist who WAS working on it in the USA (in Florida) gave up in 2008.  I have personally talked with 2 of the world's experts on this matter (in May, 2012) - who run the world's largest avocado tree nursery (for commercial - e.g. farms) in the world. They both said there are no GMO trees in production. They said they had hopes in the early 2000s - but have only seen failures -- and went back to the "old fashioned" grafting and hybrid methods and are now happy about that - given all the mixed results and bad publicity and news about GMOs.

I'd love your input and comments! I am personally SO happy that my beloved fruit is (so far) GMO free.  The Avocado Diva (you can follow me on Facebook if you like!).

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Which Avocado is the BEST?!

Reed, Hass and Lamb varieties
Various heirloom tomatoes at the local farm
People often ask the Avocado Diva questions like...

a. Which avocado is the BEST?

b. What is a "heritage" avocado?

c. What is your favorite avocado?

d. Which one should I buy?

So here's some answers for ya.....

a. The BEST avocado is the one that is in season.

b. A "heritage" avocado is like an "heirloom" tomato.

c. My favorite avocado is the ripe one.

d. You should buy the Avocado Diva's in-season heritage avocado.

To get them - join my Diva club and I'll get them shipped out to you each month!

Easy Peasy.

Love- The Avocado Diva

www.AvocadoDiva.com

Friday, May 11, 2012

Real Food Doesn't Need a Label


I think that this graphic just about says it all.

It was made by Pepper Culpepper of http://talesfromthedarkroastside.wordpress.com
(She was very kind and made it for me one day!)

But if this heritage avocado DID have a label - here are some of the wonderful things it might say:

KIND OF AVOCADO:  A rare "Matthew Davis" (click on link for more info about how the Avocado Diva and fans are saving these rare trees!).

SIZE OF AVOCADO: 1 lb

ORIGIN: Ventura, California

NUTRITION: (from the California Avocado Commission)


Ever MORE amazing is how low in fat an avocado serving can be when compared to things like butter, sour cream mayonnaise or cheese!

Check out these stats - and then substitute a couple slices of avocado INSTEAD of butter or cheese  and save HUNDREDS of calories!

If you'd like to have delicious, right off the tree, in season heritage avocados shipped to you each month - please visit our site and join our "Diva Club"!  Thanks.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

What was THAT noise?!

The Sounds of an Orchard

Have you had the sheer joy of walking through a fruit orchard? Walking in a straight line – with towering trees on either side – clear blue skies seen in bright, glorious stripes overhead? It’s an amazing sight – but even MORE so – it’s an amazing SOUND. 

Walk with the Avocado Diva – and HEAR with I hear…

First you notice the wind – sometimes whispering through leaves. Then it might rattle a few boney limbs of trees that need to be pruned. Every once in a while – a gust of wind will burst through – and the trees will make a chorus of sounds – raspy gasps of leaves and branches straining to hang onto their trunks – a grunt here and there with squeaks of protest from the larger limbs.



Once you get used to the almost spooky nature of the wind – you notice the sound of bees. There are ALWAYS bees in fruit orchards.  Avocado orchards have something blooming almost year ‘round. The “alternate” pollinator trees may be in full bloom – while the dominant trees are not. Or if you are very lucky – its full bloom time for the Hass – and the bees are making a MASSIVE sound. A hum that can almost overwhelm you with it’s sensory overload. Your primal brain fears the threat of that hum. On those days, I don’t dare to part the leaves and peak inside the trees – looking for the green pears that drip from the branches deep inside the trees. Best to leave it alone – and leave the busy bees to their work.



Next – if you pay attention – you’ll notice the crackling of leaves under your feet. Most avocado orchards are carpeted in dry, brown leaves scattered in thick layers along the rows and encircling the trees. The dry, crunchy leaves blanket the ground, keeping in the expensive, precious water so hard to find in the desert of southern California – but so critical to growing these subtropical fruit. Crunch. Crunch, Crunch – your boots help pulverize them into smaller, more decomposable pieces. Like a child – once you are aware of the leaves, you want to stomp on them and hear the crunch. Taking joy in the fun of mashing them and hearing them snap and pop! 

Again – if you are very, very quiet and stand quite still – you will hear wildlife. The screech of a red-tailed hawk or two – high overhead…. circling on the thermals – fighting over mates and territory.  The raucous crows will caw-caw and make that horrible crow “gurgling noise” that sounds like African drums - cawing in a staccato that makes you grow goose flesh and shutter.  

Quieter and quieter now – if you stand really still – you’ll soon hear the scurrying feet of small rodents and reptiles in the dry, crackling brown carpet of leaves. Quick – hurried feet most likely mean a squirrel or a rat! Tiny sounds could be a lizard or a mouse. The sound I most dread – the steady, constant rattle of the leaves – is a snake. Their long, lithe bodies make a long, constant “hiss” of moving, dried avocado leaves. It makes me shutter – and quake. It’s because of them that I always wear boots in an orchard. Finally – coming out of my fear… I can move again as the hiss fades away from me. 

Crouching down now, to try and stay absolutely still: I hear another very low but constant sound. The sound of water – squeaking and shushing out of hundreds of tiny, constant drip feeders. Avocado trees love water – but they don’t like swampy roots. So water is given like an “IV” – in a constant, slow drip – hour after hour. 

Now – with patience and a keen ear and a bit of luck you’ll hear the clip-clip-clip of another thirsty creature – the coyote.  Again – the light, steady “crunch, crunch, crunch” sound of a critter coming through the bone brittle leaves – this time a four footed fellow. Greedily – he is too impatient to lick from the slow dripping black water valve, he uses his canines – and rips open a gash in the black tubing that snakes through the orchard bringing water to each tree. The precious life blood of water pours our uselessly in the middle of a open area – he drinks his fill – then lopes away – head down – aware I’m there – but not caring. Almost smiling at how he steals the water and makes the rancher angry with his greedy destruction. 

I carefully ease up from my crouching position – adding a new noise – the creaking of my own knees ...and walk out of the orchard as quietly as I can. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

What Avocado Tastes Best? (Seasons of Avos)

People say - Hass tastes the best - What does the DIVA say?! 

Heritage avocados grow YEAR ROUND in California -- so here is a list of what kinds are ripe - in which months.

What this means to YOU is -- what month(s) should you steal that avocado from a neighbor's tree -- no wait -- that's not right.  ;-)
This avocado is REALLY full of oil - you can see how creamy it is. If flesh sticks to the pit - its usually a good sign...

What it means is -- in California -- Hass are BEST in summer and early Fall.  Even I eat Hass during the summer as they are very delicious.  For all the other months, here is the Diva's preferences:

January - Bacon , any lonely - late season Lamb or Hass (still on a tree?!) 
February – Bacon or Zutano
March – Bacon, Santana, Fuerte, Steward, Zutano
April – Fuerte, Bacon, Pinkerton
May – Rincon or Pinkerton
June – Edrinol or Pinkerton 
July – Lamb, Hass, Reed, Nabal (if you can find any!)*
August – MacArthur, Hass, Lamb, Nabal*, Reed, Lady, Daley, Mattew Davis
September – Frey, MacArthur, Reed, Nabal*
October -  Late season summer varieties if you can find them, , late Mexicola, Morro Bay Hass
November – A hard month... :-(    The Diva goes into mourning -- may eat an import 
December – Bacon avocados, San Diego Zutano


You MUST eat the right avocado in (or after) it's correct season - otherwise they can be rubbery, watery, or (if they are too early) they shrivel - because they do not have enough oil in them yet. 

Avocados don't start to ripen until you pick it off the tree. Then they ripen up in 7-10 days - depending on their oil content. The later in their season - the more oil - the more quickly they ripen (it still takes at least 5 days). 

Once an avocado is in season - say a Fuerte comes into season in spring (April) - it can "hang" on the tree for up to 18 months. And all that time, its filling up with oil. So if you can find a "late season" avocado - like a Fuerte that is STILL on the tree in June or July or the winter!  -- it will be VERY OILY and delicious!  Very heavy and quite flavor-full. (And yes, they can go rancid. If you find an avocado on the ground, that is ripe, mostly likely it will have bite marks on it - because it FINALLY go SO full of oil a rat or squirrel nibbled on it.)

REWARD FOR READING MY BLOG: (You should follow the Diva on Facebook - because whenever I get a GREAT avocado - like late-season ones, or the ever elusive Nabal - I eat it. Then I put a notice on Facebook that I have some for sale - and they sell in hours!!  If I get a LOT of great avocados - they always go to my Diva Club members first.) 

One of my VERY favorite avocados is the "last of the season" Hass from orchards in Morro Bay, California - they hold an avocado festival up there in September. PLUS it's almost in Northern California (whereas the Diva lives in Central Coast -- and San Diego/Fallbrooke are South - almost in Mexico).  So what THAT means is that avocados ripen FIRST in the South (San Diego) then move up (Orange County, LA county, Ventura County - then up to Santa Barbara and finally the north - e.g. -- Morro Bay).  

When all the Hass are gone from down south and even in the Diva's area -- the Morro Bay avocados are still ripening -- and hanging on the trees.  It's SO worth it to go up there in September or October and buy their late Hass!  They are still oil filled and creamy and amazing! *Drool*

In any case -- you probably didn't want to know THIS much info -- but here it is. Enjoy!! 

And it you want to take all the "guess work" out -- OR you don't live in California -- why not join my Diva Club and let US find the best avocados, in season, and ship them right to your door each month? 

* Nabals -- yum. They are very rare. And considered a "rancher's secret". They don't like to sell them. They eat them themselves and hoard them for friends and family.  If I am lucky enough to get a Nabal -- I usually ship them to my Diva Club members first.  (Or I hoard them....).
This is a terrible picture of a Nabal - but it tasted GOOD.  They are very round, hard skinned and SO AMAZINGLY TASTY!!  One guy on Facebook offered me $10 per avocado. But I ate it. ;-) 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Why does my avocado turn brown?!

An amazing Fuerte avocado - this is after 1 hour
One of the most common questions that the Diva get's is:
"Why does my avocado (or guacamole) turn brown?"

Answer -- to get to the other side!!  ha ha

Oh wait, wrong answer.

Correct Answer: Avocados "oxidize" when they are exposed to air. Just like an apple or a potato.

Here are several ways you can keep your avocado from going brown too fast:

  1. Use an acid on the flesh (lemon juice, lime juice are often used). 
  2. Use a non-metal knife to cut the avocado (ceramic, plastic or teflon coated). 
  3. Eat a really fresh avocado (like my heritage avocados!)
  4. When done, store with a tight fitting plastic (wrap or tool). 
See the picture of the avocado above? Would you believe I set it out for over an hour with out treating it? I cut it up for my daughter's lunch - but then got sidetracked - for an hour. 

I was AMAZED when I came back and saw how little it had "browned"!!  But then again, my Avocado Diva avocados are REALLY fresh. They don't travel thousands of miles from another (3rd world) country. They don't sit in refrigerated trains or semi-trucks. They aren't "gassed" to get them to ripen. 

Order a box and try them for yourself!  www.AvocadoDiva.com

Monday, March 12, 2012

Green = Most Vitamins and Minerals

Lamb - note the darker green flesh next to skin
If you want to get the MOST vitamins and minerals out of your avocado - then follow this simple trick:

Make sure you get all the deep GREEN flesh! 

That's right, either
PEEL your avocado's skin
or
SCRAPE the skin with a spoon

The deeper the green color, the more vitamins and minerals in that part of the fruit's flesh.

If you have a winter avocado (which are typically thin-skinned) or a green avocado - those are usually best peeled. Winter avocados are also known as "greens" because they often don't turn black as they ripen. These varieties include Bacon, Zutano, Santanas and more.

Some avocados are "in between" - they ripen in spring and have green skins with some bumps - so you could peel or scrape. These varieties include Pinkertons & Gwens.

One exception is the Mexicola avocado (ripens in summer) - they are VERY thin skinned and are almost purple/black. The skin is SO thin and delicious, you can eat it! Kind of like a plum.

If you have the summer type of avocado (like a Hass, Lamb, MacArthur, Edrinol) they have thicker, bumpier skins and you can usually scrape out the flesh with a spoon.

Some avocados have REALLY thick skins (e.g. - the Reed or Nabal) and you can even use the empty skin like bowls. In fact, those varieties are SO thick skinned that you cannot tell they are ripe by squeezing them - you need to push on the stem (like a cantaloupe) to see if it moves or "gives" -- and that's how you can tell if these very round, large, hard-skinned avocados are ripe.

To see all the types of varieties mentioned here - please visit www.AvocadoDiva.com

Members of our "Diva Club" automatically get the in-season variety shipped to their home each month. It's a great way to support small farms and ranches PLUS get a wonderful variety of avocados shipped to you that you will NOT find in your grocery store. Hope you will consider joining us.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Wakey Wakey - Eggs and Bacey (Bacon Avocados!)

Can I just share that I live in paradise?    No?  Too bad... ;-)  Keep reading for the recipe...


Can I just share that I live in paradise? This is a photo of a sunset (I wanted you to think its a sun rise - but seriously -- the Diva does not get up that early) from my neighbor's porch. It's actually my sister's porch (who is also my neighbor) - so how lucky is that?

Anyway - it's sunrise (as far as you know) - so it's time to cook some eggs and BACON! Bacon avocados that is. This is so easy.

1. Cut a Bacon avocado in half and de-pit. The cut out 2 nice slices (see photo) from each half (so you have 4 total).  (Save the "butt" pieces for something else - or just eat them. YUM!) Be sure an peel the pieces too.

2. Heat up some avocado oil (or EVOO if you are not lucky enough to have avocado oil).

3. Sprinkle the Diva's Guacamole spices mix on the avocado slices and slide them into the hot, oiled pan.

4. Immediately crack an egg into the avocado's "pit hole" (no crude jokes necessary here...). Add a pinch more Guacamole Spice mix.

5. Fry until firm - then flip over. Add another pinch of spices and cook for another minute or two.

6. Slide onto a plate and enjoy!

It's delicious with a side of tomatoes or salsa. Bacon avocados are available in the winter time. They are quite large and full of oil making them creamy and delicious.



Friday, February 17, 2012

How YOU Helped Discover and SAVE an Avocado Variety!

This is the tree "we" helped save -- well, actually the tree will probably not be saved... but the avocados it produces will live on and on...This is the story and a bunch of cool photos follow at the end. 

Last summer (August, 2011) a story came out in the Ventura County Star (our county's largest newspaper) about the Diva and her love of rare, unique, "heritage" avocados and the trees they grow upon. A very nice man emailed the Diva to say his mom had a tree that was very old, produced some amazing avocados, and that soon the tree would probably have to be cut down. He wanted to know if the Diva had any ideas for how to save the avocado tree.

I exchanged several emails with Mr. Davis and suggested a couple of ideas:

a. He could contact the internationally known nursery that grafts most of the commercial avocado trees for all of California, Brokaw Nursery. It just so happens that they are in the same town as his mother's house and tree!

b. He could also contact the commercial nursery that grafts trees for the consumer market - LaVerne nursery, which is also in Ventura County (in Piru, California).

It turns out that Mr. Davis had already worked with a couple of exotic fruit growing hobbyists to take scions and make grafts. Mr. Davis had attempted to do that too -- but with little luck. So it turned out that Brokaw Nursery was kind enough (and interested enough!) to send a professional out. Mr. Davis called him an "avocado whisperer" - he checked out the tree, spent quite a bit of time observing it, looking at it's leaves, it's bark, and finally took several cuttings (in late November) when he determined it was at the optimal time to produce budwood that would graft well.

In January (2012) -- Mr. Davis' mother passed away -- and it was time for the family to sell the old family home. The tree will probably have to be cut down - as it is very old, very large, and towers over the home - making it not easy to insure (plus there are several other issues).

Avocado trees don't move well - it's not like you can dig it up (the root system would be several dozen feet wide, for one thing) - plus they just stop producing fruit after several decades.

The great news is -- in February -- Brokaw Nursery called Mr. Davis and (yippee!!) the grafts worked well! They had several small trees growing - and Mr. Davis was SO kind - he gave the Diva one! Mr. Davis and his family will all attempt to grow them, as well as several other friends. So this tree will live on through the traditional process of cutting, grafting, and growing more "baby" trees - just like we've been doing in California since the Spanish landed near Dos Pueblos (above Santa Barbara) since the 1800's.

I plan to grow my tree inside my house for a couple of years in a large pot -- and when it gets larger and stronger - then I will transplant it and grow it on the hill in my back yard.

Thanks to you (seriously) - for encouraging me, for following my blogs, for responding to my Facebook posts, and for purchasing the Diva's avocados, tools, spices, etc. Because of "us" -- you are helping me preserve these grand, old trees and these fabulous heritage avocados. Please check out the photos below - as they help tell this awesome story.

The Davis Family home in Ventura, California - tree on the right

The tree was probably planted in about 1930 - the home is now surrounded by industry (oil firms, warehouses) and a few apartment houses. It will most likely be sold and torn down to be replaced by something similar. 

This is one of the avocados from the tree - the family got to name the variety (which is traditional). Mr. Davis named it for his grandson, Matthew Davis.  I took this photo on a local beach in Ventura. 


Here is one of the nursery's tag's for a scion, noting the newly named variety's name (Matthew Davis), where it came from (Ventura) and the date the scion was cut. 

Here is my little tree along with one of the immature fruits from the "mother tree". (Feb 2012)


Why Won't My Avocado Ripen?!

A variety of California Avocados - 3 winters and 2 summers

So the avocados above were all picked during the winter - but two of them are not winter avocados. Who cares? You may -- read on to find out why one is going to be SUPER delicious and one will NOT be.

So here's what they are named (from left to right):
a. Pinkerton
b. Bacon
c. Lamb
d. Fuerte
e. and the "big guy" in the front is a newly named avocado called a Matthew Davis.

The Lamb and the Matthew Davis are both summer avocados. So how can you have a summer avocado in winter time?  There are two ways:

1. The Lamb was "overlooked" when the pickers picked this orchard and left a few of the Lambs on the tree - way, way up on the top branches. Avocados can "hang" on a tree for many, many months. They don't ripen until they are picked or when they fall off the tree. So finding a few avocados (especially Lambs, Hass or Edrinols) left on a tree is a special treat. They just keep adding oil and get yummier and yummier. (But if they are left too long - they can go rancid... so its a delicate balance here...).

2. The Matthew Davis is the opposite - it was actually picked in February -- but it isn't ready to be picked. If you can believe it, this avocado is only about 1/3 to 1/2 of the size it will be when ripe. It grows HUGE. It is also not ready to eat, because its oil content is too low. The flesh will never really ripen. It will slowly shrink along it's ridges and just rot. When avocados are picked too early, they just get wrinkly (usually from the top down) and stay rubbery.

So now you know! California avocados, all 500 varieties of them, grow year 'round here in the sunshine state. You do need an expert to help you know when they are ready to pick. You can find some of that info here at the Avocado Diva's website and by following me on FaceBook or this blog! Thanks for reading.

(P.S. -- If you'd like to find out more about the amazing Matthew Davis -- and how the customers of Avocado Diva helped save this variety - click on this link to read that blog story.)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Avocados - The once forbidden, "love" fruit...


Did you know that at one time - the avocado was considered an aphrodisiac?! Yes -- just being caught seen eating one could have gotten you put on the "naughty list"!  In some European countries, women were forbidden to eat them. 

Since the avocados came from warm, tropical climates (featuring ladies with little clothes on from foreign lands) -- and in the "olden days" - an avocado would have been SO rare, so exotic.

Plus they DO kind of resemble a certain pair of male items ---  just say'n.



Undoubtedly the "poor man's butter" (as avocados were called on ships) gave the sailor or traveler a real boost of energy - from its 20 minerals, plenty of protein - it probably DID help with a person's "health" - shall we say?!

Enjoy this silly "sexy avocado" video (rated G - pretty much...)
I'm an Avocado Song and Video  if you wish. Note its about avos from Mexico -- but -- on this international day of romance, I think we Californian's can still embrace this love song from an avocado.

What could YOU do to "spice up your love life" with a delicious avocado? ;-) Here's wishing you a Happy and Healthy Valentine's Day from the Avocado Diva.


Friday, February 10, 2012

All About Pinkertons

The Pinkerton Farm's mail box - of course its green!


The Pinkerton avocado kind of makes my heart warm. It was hybridized by a local Ventura County family (the Pinkerton family -- duh).  Back in the "day" everyone was trying to "create" a fruit that would be the "it" fruit. Tasty, grew all year around, had a good flavor, great flesh, would sell nice, etc. Many, many farmers and ranchers tried. That's one of the reasons we have so many varieties.
3 classic Pinkertons - YUM!











The Pinkerton is not a commercially successful avocado for several reasons:
  • It's too long and pear shaped (doesn't work so well for the packing houses machinery to wash, store, ship it). 
  • The poor fruit ripens from top to bottom (as it has a long, skinny neck and a fat bottom... the Diva can kind of relate...)
  • Because of its elongated neck -- if you cut it like a typical Hass -- (from top to bottom) - you often get a stringy mess of over ripe avocado (at the top) and a not quite rip portion (at the fat bottom).  But there IS a solution -- read on...
The Pinkerton IS a good avocado for eating for these reasons:
Peel it to get ALL the nutrients!
  • It is very yummy - full of rich oils and a strong, earthy, very "avocado-y" taste. 
  • It has a pretty tough skin, so it doesn't rip easily.
  • Its a winter fruit - ripens in Jan - March 
  • The skin peels easily - so you can get to the nutrient right, very "green" flesh. 
  • It has a fairly small pit - so lots of flesh for the money
  • It turns black as it ripens - so you know its ready (in fact, it turns quite ugly! but tastes good)
So to overcome the "not commercially viable" parts of the Pinkerton -- 
the Diva suggests you eat it this way: 


 Cut it AROUND - not top to bottom. Simple!

Cut the top off when it is soft and ripe. You may have to throw away the first one or two slices. You can see they are brown and the "strings" are quite easy to identify. The next 3 or 4 slices are pretty, soft and delicious! The fat bottom is NOT ready (still hard) and needs another day or two to ripen.

 You can save the bottom half like this: rub the exposed part with a lemon (or any acid - lime, orange, grapefruit, even vinegar will work!) and then wrap it tightly. I often use plastic wrap (right against the flesh - very tight) and pull it over and tighten it with a twisty tie. It will stay nice until it ripens on the counter for another day or two.

So if you are lucky enough to GET a Pinkerton -- just treat it RIGHT and know how to eat it -- and you'll add a brand new, delicious variety to your avocado list. Knowledge is power!

(Check out Avocado Diva Recipes for more ideas on how to cook with the Pinkerton!)




Monday, January 23, 2012

Did You Have a Tree House ---??


Inside a "Cathedral Like" huge, old avocado tree

This past week I had the pleasure of taking two journalists to a remote ranch here in southern California. It was an ideal day – blue skies, thin winter clouds running across the arch of sky, like streamers fluttering quickly before the rain storm predicted - rare rain. 
Both of these young ladies had never been in an orchard, they disclosed. I literally stopped in my tracks (with one bumping into my back). The thought startled me! How sad for them.
I grew up in orchards – orange, lemon and avocado. They are my playgrounds. As I child – I ran up and down the long, leafy rows – playing tag,  hide-n-seek, sometimes dodging the Mexican field workers – who would alternately yell at us in Spanish or smile shyly.
We children would grab windfall fruit – fallen oranges, rotten lemons, wrinkly avocados – throwing them at each other or playing made-up games to see who could fling them the farthest or highest - to watch them splat their juices on the hot summer soil...
Beautiful avocado green leaves and buds 
Back to the present: the journalists snap pictures and asked me questions. They love the avocado-green ("from the 70s!" one remarked.) They exclaimed over the huge size of the leaves, the range in sizes of the fruit. So many things I take for granted – was new and exciting to them. The hundreds of busy, buzzy bees scare them a bit.  We are all startled by the sound of a creature running away as we part avocado branches, peering inside trees for the green fruit camoflagued so well. "It's probably just a squirrel, I assured them"… hoping I am right, but fearing it might be a snake.
We step around piles of steamy horse manure; natural fertilizer among the rows of trees.  We skirt long rows of firewood, neatly lined up along the edge of the orchard (winter work and another source of revenue for orchard owners). We move steadily through the orchard - me explaining how hard it is to make a living growing and selling avocados and why Hass is an ideal cash crop. We reach the very far edge – where there are 3 gigantic, old avocado trees – the Avocado Diva’s favorite kind of trees. I'm giddy with excitment.
Hass trees - growing in rows
For sure these are not common Hass trees – probably Bacon or Fuerte – Heritage varieties that still grow here in Ventura County. Often I discover rare trees in this manner – walking an orchard - finding a lone tree or two, forgotten, on the edge of an old ranch.  I am not disappointed as we walk up – the fruit hangs like long, dripping Christmas ornaments - the classic tear-drop shape of a Pinkerton.  Pushing the leaves and branches back further – we go inside this massive, "cathedral like" tree – and discover a hidden treasure...
The tree has child-like stairs, nailed up and along two of the three thick, twisty trunks.  Looking high above our heads, we spy the plywood floors of two long-forgotten tree houses. The photo-journalist takes a couple of artistic snaps and moves along – but I am transported back over a few decades to my tree house.
I can clearly remember climbing rickety stairs – nailed in with my father’s hand-me-down, rusty hammer. My plywood club-house floor had a dangling sign that said “GIRLS ONLY” crudely written in paint – while an almost identical structure a few avocado trees further down the orchard read “BOYS ONLY”.
My sisters, my neighborhood pals and I spent countless hours on those dusty plywood boards – plotting and planning how to annoy the boys – drinking pop out of glass bottles from the corner gas station.  
Long, skinny, "tear drop" shaped Pinkertons
And in that quiet stillness, slowly sipping our soda – our tree would explode with a half-dozen crazy, wild boys throwing rotten lemons at us – or spraying us with water from squirt guns!  How angry and indignant we got!  (Even though we were just discussing doing the same thing to them.)
“What are these?” – - - I am startled out of my memories, as the journalist brings me back to reality. She asks me another question about some new, oddly shaped avocados she’s discovered.  "Bacons or Zutanos?" she guesses, proud of her new knowledge – So I show her how to tell the difference.   I’m transported back to the here and now – to answer more questions about my passion – Heritage Avocados and saving these cathedral trees.
=============================
The Avocado Diva grew up in Ventura County on the now defunct Adore Farm and the surronding orchards owned by the Camarillo and Petit families. Her children are 5th generation Californians from this same county. She runs an on-site store, blog, and website where she sells Heritage Avocados (rare, unique and historic avocados) as well as helps try to keep them growing - by purchasing the fruit from small, local, farmers and ranchers. www.AvocadoDiva.com
You can help to - sign up for the "Diva Club" - and get rare, unique avocados shipped right to your door each month. Save an avocado variety. Save a tree. Save a farm. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Super Guac Sunday (PLAN AHEAD!)




YUMMINESS on Super Bowl Sunday requires forethought!
Super Bowl Sunday has become known as “Super Guacamole Sunday”.  Which makes sense, right – since we’re watching an All American Game – and eating a Mexican inspired snack.  Wait – what?!

This is a FAIL - not allowed -- (cringe...)
Anyway – the thing is, we LOVE us some guacamole.

BUT – YOU – HAVE – TO – PLAN – AHEAD.

Avocados must be purchased ahead of time and allowed to ripen. DO not (under any circumstances…) eat that green sauce from a bottle they call “quick --a-mole” or some such nonsense. Plan ahead people!

Buy your avocados NOW – from me or from your farmers market – and put them in paper bags and cardboard boxes – so they ripen from today (mid January) until the “big game day” (Feb 5 this year).

Right now we have a Super Bowl guacamole kit – with the Avocado Diva’s special guacamole spice mix, a bottle of the super-manly “Tapitio” hot sauce and a special plastic knife to cut up your avocados (side note: when you cut avos with a plastic knife, they don’t turn brown as quickly!).

The Diva's SuperBowl Guac Kit $29.95
But you gotta order AHEAD of TIME – as we ship the just-picked avocados and they are hard. We can’t ship them soft – or they would turn into guacamole – courtesy of the U.S. Post Office.

Best wishes friends! Raise a chip filled with guacamole on game day and enjoy this all American day! 

The Diva

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Time for Guacamole

The Diva is launching a second blog - this one is called "52 Weeks of Guacamole" -- so you can guess what it's all about...

Won't you check it out? Perhaps follow it?

www.52weeksofguacamole/blogspot.com

That's it for today folks!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

It's time for BACON (avocados, that is!)


A Bacon avocado next to a grocery store Hass in Winter

Check out a Bacon (heritage variety) of avocado compared to a foreign grown, typical grocery store avocado you might find in the store during winter. 
Bacon avocados are a wonderful, winter avocado that grows well here in Moorpark. Bacons do not TASTE like pork-bacon; however, they are just as delicious as bacon! (Note: heritage varieties are often named after the grower who discovered or grafted them, in this case "Mr. Bacon".) 
Bacon avocados are LARGE, bright GREEN and do not turn black as they ripen. Their skin is really, really thin. You can order at my website www.AvocadoDiva.com. These are also the kind we will ship to our "Diva Club" (avo of the month club) members. They are WONDERFUL this time of year - when the only thing you can find in the super market are the last of the imported, small, black, "yucky" avocados from other countries. (Sorry -- but its true!).
If you are hungry for some SuperBowl guacamole - the Bacon avocado makes a great guacamole! Buy them ahead of time (like in the next week to 10 days) so they will be ripe by Feb 5 for the big game! 
Bacon avocados often have "beauty marks" (dark, black marks on them) from swinging in the winds of December/January. They can also have brown blemishes that look like a patch of sand paper on the skin - this is where the avocado might have brushed against the rough bark of the tree. One other blemish common to a Bacon variety is the "star" mark you can see at the top of the stem - radiating out from the stem around the top. This is from a certain kind of mite that likes to eat the blossom (months and months ago). None of these marks will harm the avocado -- but it does make them not "commercially viable" (like the more common Hass). They aren't always so "beautiful" -- but they TASTE great!  
So order some Bacons and check out more BACON recipes here:
www.AvocadoDiva.com Recipes
A typical "star mark" on a Bacon avocado - just means a bug nibbled on it's blossom last spring. No worries!


Why Bacon's are not "commercial" fruit. These marks from the wind are common - but don't harm the flesh/taste!