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If you are a greedy person like me, then I'm sure you will already know the gustatory pleasures of a perfect avocado. Split and consumed with nothing more than a good squeeze of lemon or lime juice or a flick of best olive oil and balsamic vinegar, flecks of sea salt and ground black pepper, it offers a sensuous solitary eating experience. The flesh is smooth and creamy, the flavour nutty and rich. With a glass of chilled pinot gris it is a perfect little meal. Certainly greater, more glamorous embellishments and titivations can be proffered, for the avocado is happy partner to all kinds of different flavour profiles - prawns, tomatoes, chillies, garlic, smoked chicken, crisp fried prosciutto or bacon to name but a few.
Avocados are a biennial species - they fruit once every two years. In my Auckland garden I grow two varieties, the egg drop-shaped Hass and the rounder Reed. Hass has a more buttery, golden flesh than the nuttier Reed, but these two rank as my top avocado picks. Avocados will not ripen while they are attached to the tree, so they need to be harvested any time from 9-12 months after the fruit has set. Once picked, keep at room temperature until they are ripe or the flesh will go brown. Once ripe, they can be chilled for a couple of days to prevent over-ripening.
There is just a day or two between the luscious, creamy melt-in-the-mouth texture of a perfectly ripe avocado and one that has turned brown and horrid. At perfect ripeness the fruit should give just a little when cradled in the palm of your hand and the flesh should be a soft, creamy green. Do not store avocados in the fridge before they are ripe as this will turn the flesh brown. Once cut, they brown quickly, so drizzle cut surfaces with lemon juice to prevent discolouration. Avocados are best added to salads last.
These are some of my favourite recipes for avocados:
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