Ahhh, It’s Avocado Season

Avocados: Every seed creates a unique new variety

What’s growing now:

Avocados, jackfruit, sour-sop, breadfruit, Meyer lemons, cilantro, basil, parsley, Indian curry leaf, spring onions, lettuce, kale, collard greens, carrots, eggplant, beets and fennel

AVOCADOS

Season: available year round, but slows down in the summer

Every seedling that is planted and grows to maturity creates a new variety – the result is an infinite variety of avocados. Farmers notice superior traits and propagate it through tissue culture or grafting. The Hass avocado, which has produced millions of trees throughout the world, all came from one seedling. “Thankfully, the people of Kaua’i are really interested and eager to try many different varieties,” says John Wooten, who grows 30 varieties of avocado.

To remove the seed, whack it with a knife and give it a little twist

What to look for:

Once an avocado is picked, it starts the ripening process. As it matures to the point of perfection, it peaks then rapidly declines. Selecting a perfectly ripe avocado involves some luck, so the Wootens recommend buying a firm one and checking it every day. They suggest watching for it to ripen at home, that way you’ll know when it’s ripe without it being pinched and bruised by other shoppers.

When it’s ripe:

“Some avocados have a really thick skin and you can’t tell if they’re ripe by pinching them. The only way you can tell is to put a toothpick through the stem end and see if it’s soft inside. Other avocados have a skin that’s so thin and soft, that even if you barely pinch it, you might bruise it too much,” says John, adding that all other varieties fall between these two extremes.

Storage: Store at room temperature, out of direct sun. Leave on the counter or in a basket with good air circulation.

Nandanie and John Wooten use organic techniques. Daniel Lane photos

Health benefits: A medium avocado averages 250 calories and contains about 30 grams of fat; 20 grams are monounsaturated fats. Research shows that monounsaturated fat lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol and raises HDL (good) cholesterol. Avocado’s anti-inflammatory benefits improve disorders such as heart disease, asthma and arthritis; they are high in cancer-fighting carotenoids and antioxidants; rich in omega-3 fatty acids and promote blood sugar regulation. High in Vitamin K (bone support), vitamin B6, vita-min C, folate and fiber; avocados have more potassium than a medium banana.

Wootens produce available at: Vim and Vigor, Papaya’s Natural Foods and Cafe, Hoku Foods Natural Market, Harvest Market; Kapa’a Farmers Market on Wednesdays; Restaurant Kintaro and Cultivate Kaua’i, a produce distribution service. The Wootens offer custom orders; call 823-6807 for details.

AVOCADO SAlSA

I came up with this recipe one day when I had extra avocados and cherry tomatoes. It’s great on its own or as a topping on seared fresh fish. If you have any fresh herbs such as basil, feel free to add them.

Tangy, sweet and creamy avocado salsa

* 1 small garlic clove, minced
* 1 medium Wootens avocado, diced
* 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
* 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
* a good pinch of salt
* freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Combine everything in a bowl and let sit for at least 10 minutes – this allows the flavors to meld. The avocados will break down a little and mix nicely with the tomato juices, making a creamy dressing.

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