Friday, September 19, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Field to Fork: The popular avocado, top to bottom

DanKennedyW

By
From page A7 | September 26, 2012 |

My sons don’t seem to understand their important role when it comes to supplying avocados to the family.

Our older lad, who has a house in Los Angeles, has a large back yard filled with successful fruit trees — limes, lemons, grapefruit and two large guava trees. For six months, I pressured him to rip out a guava tree and replace it with a Hass avocado. No dice. The guavas are hugely popular with his fiancée’s family.

Then there’s the other lad, who once rented a cool little house by the ocean in Solana Beach. The yard had not one but two well-established avocado trees. And he moved. So much for that.

I can’t grow them here — Davis is too far north, with the wrong climate for Hass avocados, which are far and away the best variety. Growers in the Carlsbad area down south grow acres upon acres of avocados in their ideal environment. It’s where Sheri Williamson and Margaret Crane, partners in Williamson Farms, grow the avocados they sell at the Davis Farmers Market. The two women sell their avocados at other farmers markets in Sacramento and the Bay Area as well. California Hass avocados have a long season that should end toward the back of October.

Nationally, avocado sales were up 30 percent during the first half of this year compared to 2011. More high-volume chain restaurants are placing avocados into their lineups. And overall consumer demand picked up substantially a few years ago, after both Doctor Oz and Oprah endorsed avocados on their programs, according to Crane.

Avocados are high in calories, but it’s the type of fat that’s good in the battle against “bad” cholesterol. They’re so smooth and silky by way of mouth feel, and they nicely offset acidic or piquant elements, which is one reason they’re great in salsas that have red onion, pepper, fresh coriander or vinegar at play.

Sometimes the supermarkets have a special with avocados. Most often this means that a packer gets the call, and a supply of avocados is pre-conditioned through a treatment with ethylene gas in a closed space. It’s a treatment similar to the gassing given to commercial tomatoes in agribusiness when targeted for retail sales. It hastens ripening. “When they get to the store, they’re just starting to break a little,” said Crane, referring to the ripening process for avocados.

Unfortunately, I’ve found mixed results with pre-conditioned avocados, especially when they’re advertised specials. While some are great, others turn brown or stringy inside far too readily — within two or three days. I’ve found it to be a crapshoot. Since most avocados sold in the United States come from Mexico, there can be a long distribution chain that isn’t a favorable thing either.

Crane says a lot of her customers also speak of the unreliable quality found with supermarket avocados. I buy them sometimes in the supermarkets, but often from Williamson Farms, with superior results. But isn’t that the same thing that happens when we buy tomatoes at a farmers market, versus stores? You just wouldn’t think so because all the Hass avocados look the same in the different environments, whereas color comes into play with tomatoes.

When Diane and I visited Solana Beach in the summer — why did our son move? — we’d bring down a heavy load of garden-ripe red tomatoes to make batches of salsa every day. After he moved, we still went down there, and at least we could buy avocados cheaply, given the proximity of the orchards. This time of year, avocado goes beautifully into salads that include tangy arugula, black olives and feta cheese, with an olive oil and vinegar dressing. And as the NFL season gets rolling, guacamole is, of course, a standard for football games.

How do you gauge the ripeness of an avocado, when color really isn’t a factor? Press the area around the stem gently. If it has some give, the avocado is getting ripe. If it gives a lot, it’s definitely ripe, and can go into the refrigerator to retard deterioration and extend its edibility. One doesn’t refrigerate ripe tomatoes, but yes, do so with ripe avocados.

Have you ever struggled to get the pit out of an avocado half or to scoop out the flesh in one large halves? Run a blade around the avocado lengthwise, of course, and create two halves. Take a kitchen knife and lightly chop into the exposed pit. The knife blade will stick. Apply sideways leverage to break the pit out of its hold for removal. As for getting the flesh out nicely, slip a soup spoon around the interior up against the skin.

If you want to save half for another night, wrap it tightly in shrink-wrap to prevent discoloration and store in the refrigerator. If you want to hasten ripening at home, by the way, place the avocado in a small paper bag, closed, for a number of hours, even a day. Check as you go.

We’ve been having rather hot days as September heads into October. Here’s a variation on an avocado salad recipe from Greens Restaurant in San Francisco, from long ago. It features a piquant, summery dressing perfect for our weather.

Avocado and tomato salad

Arrange slices of tomato and crescents of sliced avocado atop a small bed of arugula, mizuna or other piquant green. Drizzle with the following vinaigrette. Naturally, you might want a bit of protein, and a bit of sliced turkey from the deli department would be at home here. Canned sardines in water also work well, if you’re a sardine lover.

Citrus-Chili Vinaigrette from Greens
2 tablespoons very good orange juice
1 tablespoon lime juice (fresh)
1 jalapeno chili, seeded and coarsely chopped
1/4 tablespoon light olive oil*
1/4 teaspoon salt
Combine half the chili with the other ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Test for piquancy that suits you, and blend in more of the jalapeno as needed. This makes a third of a cup.
*Light olive oil is a product from supermarket shelves. It has little flavor, which is the point. Some accomplished chefs also prefer it for sautéing. In its stead, use a local extra virgin olive with a light flavor. Avoid a powerful tasting olive oil that overwhelms the subtlety of the other ingredients.

Comments

comments

.

News

UC to create $250 million venture capital fund

By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A1

 
School district may redevelop downtown site

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1

Grant means new push for moving tracks out of town

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Some say council needs to reconsider MRAP

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1

France strikes Islamic State group’s depot in Iraq

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Man faces arson charge in huge California wildfire

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

DUI suspected in crash

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

 
Master Gardeners share their wisdom at free workshops

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

 
Scots vote to stay in UK

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Project Linus seeks donations

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Rabid bat found at Holmes Junior High

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Students invited to apply for Blue & White grants

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Halloween costume sale benefits preschool

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Telling tales, on ‘Davisville’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Volunteers sought to make veggie bags

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Storyteller will draw on music, dance

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Woodland Healthcare offering flu shots

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Putah Creek Bike Path to close temporarily

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Little Free Libraries open at Montgomery

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A3

 
DHS Classes of 1954 and 1955 will hold 60th reunion

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Nonprofits can get DCN’s help

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Register to vote by Oct. 20

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Free workout class set at library

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Explorit: Lots of ways to be a volunteer

By Lisa Justice | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Sierra Club remembers longtime walker

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

Reception benefits endangered gorillas

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

 
Davis maps available at Chamber office

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Need a new best friend?

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Downtown history tour planned in October

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

Davis hosts its own climate change rally

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

 
Sutter Farmers Market offers local goods

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8 | Gallery

Wolk applauds approval of stronger rules for olive oil

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

 
Qigong classes available for heart health

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

.

Forum

Sick of being the bad guy

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Save the ‘pine cone place’

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Affirm our community values

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Project has safety risks

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Learn more about Paso Fino

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Educate homeless with dogs

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

Cheers and Jeers: Not the end of the rainbow

By Our View | From Page: A6

 
Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

Return to previous plan

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
.

Sports

Aggies’ new energy could be scary for Big West

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

 
No rest for the weary: Aggie TE Martindale busy on and off the field

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Devils hope the light bulb turns on at Edison

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
River Cats and Giants sign two-year deal

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

Blue Devil volleyballers hold off Herd

By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Mustangs are no match for DHS boys in water polo

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

Take Zona and Bama this week

By Bob Dunning | From Page: B2

 
A’s slide continues as Rangers sweep

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

.

Features

Name Droppers: Awards keep coming for UC Davis retiree

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

 
.

Business

Redesigned 2015 Escalade remains breed all its own

By Ann M. Job | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
.

Obituaries

Carol L. Walsh

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Comics: Friday, September 19, 2014

By Creator | From Page: A10

 
.

Real Estate Review

Featured Listing

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER1

Professional Services Directory

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER2

Taylor Morrison

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER3

Malek Baroody

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER4

Norcal Land

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER5

Robin Garland

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER6

Dana Hawkins

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER7

Karen Waggoner

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER7

Joe Kaplan

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER8

Lynne Wegner

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER8

Martha Bernauer

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER8

Remax

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER9

Melrina A Maggiora

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER10

Wells Fargo Home Mortgage

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER11

Julie Leonard

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER11

Coldwell Banker

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER12

Kim Eichorn

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER14

Lyon Real Estate

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER15

Jamie Madison & Associates

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

Marcelo Campos

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

Julie Partain

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

Kim Merrel Lamb

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER17

Bob Bockwinkel

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER17

Juan Ramirez

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER17

Chris Snow

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER18

James Hanna

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER18

Susan von Geldern

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER19

Raul Zamora

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER19

Travis Credit Union

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER20

Jamie Madison

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER21

Karen Waggoner

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER21

Tracy Harris

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER22

Lisa Haass

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER22

First Street Real Estate

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER24