Local Bounty: January 28
Paradise Valley Ranch Avocados
Posted Monday, January 28, 2013, 04:28PM
I’m a huge fan of Denny and Gemma Giles of Paradise Valley Ranch. Their 23-acre farm in the back country of Valley Center grows some of the most beautiful citrus, including kalamansi, a tiny Filipino fruit with a sweet tart flavor that’s hard to find in San Diego, and wondrous avocados. (And, if you visit their stalls at the Little Italy Mercato, Pacific Beach farmers market, North Park market, and the San Diego Public Market, you’ll also find the magnificent woven African baskets they sell—the large ones are perfect for your farmers market shopping expeditions.)
This time of year, their stalls are filled with oranges and three varieties of avocados—Zutano, Bacon, and Hass. All are $2 apiece of $6 for a basket.
Zutanos, a Mexican avocado, are found at the beginning of the avocado season—from September through early winter. They’re beautiful, with a shiny smooth yellow green skin and slight, elongated pear shape. Denny says these are considered the “low cal” avocado because they have the lowest oil content of avocado varieties. Typically, they’re grown as pollinators to attract bees for the more common Hass, but they are a treat to eat, with their creamy texture. Slice it in half lengthwise and stuff with a shrimp, farro, and tomato salad. Or turn it into a creamy soup topped with crispy pieces of bacon and a swirl of avocado oil.
Bacons are a seasonal treat, coming in late fall and departing in early spring. They’ve got an oval shape with a smooth green skin (the commonality among these rarer varieties is this thin skin, which makes them difficult to send to market, unlike the Hass and its thick skin). I love the sweetness you get in the Bacon’s flesh. Yes, you can turn it into guacamole, but I actually enjoy slicing it in half, sprinkling it with some garlic salt, and just dipping my spoon into for each luscious bite. Sometimes, that’s all you need.
You’re more than familiar with the Hass and its easy-to-peel, thick pebbly skin. It’s available here year round. If you see dark-skinned Hass avocados, check the give on the fruit; it’s probably ripe. Also—for any avocado—look for the nub of the stem to be there. It helps the fruit ripen more evenly. While guac is a given, how about trying an avocado, mango, and fresh corn salsa? Or blending it with yogurt to make a healthy dip for Super Bowl?
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