Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Avocado Taste Test - Comparing Pears...

...and Classic Pairings:

I have been meaning to do a comparative tasting of locally-grown avocados for several weeks. The only problem has been that my willpower is weak and I usually eat one of them before finding time to conduct the test. Finally, today, I had all three pears available from my local market in the house at the same time. Here are my notes:

BACON Avocado from Four Sisters Farm

To the Eye:
Outside - lemon green with brown, scabby patches
Inside Pale lemon to white, minimal green, visible fibres.

In the Mouth: Very Milky after taste, slight bitterness, fibrous, hard, unripe.

HASS Avocado: from Brokaw

To the Eye: Outside - Very Dark brown with hints of green, knobbly.
Inside - pale yellow with a mid green rim.

In the Mouth: Soft, like room-temperature butter, creamy after taste, rich and subtle.

GWEN Avocado: from Brokaw

To the Eye: Outside - Vibrant, rich, dark green, knobbly.
Inside - pale yellow with a wider mid green rim.

In the Mouth: Cuts like butter just out of the fridge, Watery after taste. Pronounced avocado flavour.

Before the tasting I had it in my head that the Gwen was my favourite, but when I compared it directly with the Hass, the Gwen seemed to lack the richness I remembered it having. I would be interested to compare the Gwen and Hass again, on different days throughout the season, to see if these results hold up. The few times I have tried the Bacon variety, even when properly ripened, I have been disappointed, so I don't think I will bother with it again in the future, although dieters my be interested to know the Bacon contains less fat than a Hass. But since half the amount of Hass gives me twice as much pleasure as the Bacon variety, I don't think that will do anything to change my mind and give it another chance.


Some of my favourite ways to eat avocado:

- Mashed and spread on lightly toasted bread with a squeeze of fresh lemon, freshly ground black pepper and Maldon salt.

- In a "Tricolore" Salad with mozzarella, tomato, basil and olive oil.

- Paired with Fatted Calf bacon.

- Made into guacamole with chile, lime juice, green onions, diced tomato, salt and pepper.

- Fred likes his avocado halved, filled with vinegar and eaten with a small spoon.

Nuclear Freeze: How NOT to eat your avocado...
I found an extrememly fascinating post called Avocado Ecstasy on Syllabub a couple of days ago. It's a must read. I also found an interesting comment in response to the post, scribed by the Urban Forager:
"In 1984, I offered shelter for a couple of days to a pair of wandering street preachers who called themselves "A-men." They wore white robes and went barefoot like mendicant friars, and they were strict vegans, the first I'd ever met, although I don't remember them using the word "vegan." So they didn't eat ice cream, but they did have a rich, creamy frozen dessert -- it was made of mashed-up avocados and sugar. They called it a nuclear freeze."

So I mashed up some avocado and sweetened it with Agave syrup before freezing it. When I came to try it, it nearly made me wretch and I had to spit it down the sink. In my mind, avocado definitely needs an acid contrast to cut through the richness. Sweetened, frozen avocado simply does not do it for me.

PS More ideas of ways to use avocados.

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Avocado Taste Test - Comparing Pears...


  • At 19/9/06 18:45, Blogger Erin S. said…

    Love the slide show! Avocados are one of my fav things about CA. I share your enjoyment of it simply mashed, with a bit of salt, pepper and lemon on toast.

    On the gross avocado note, a coworker makes her guacamole by mixing avocado and Hellman's mayo. Ugh--why does it need MORE creaminess?? I always politely decline.

  • At 19/9/06 19:48, Blogger Unknown said…

    When I worked at the culinary school, one of the srudents from teh Philipines made me a dessert of pureed avocado and sweetened condensed milk. I liked it a lot!

    An aside to erin s., at my work, the secret ingredient in our much raved about guacamole is actually .....cream cheese!

  • At 19/9/06 20:03, Blogger cookiecrumb said…

    I'm mesmerized by the slide show....
    However! My father used to be an avocado farmer. His variety was Fuerte, which is fantastic in my estimation, but you'll seldom see it commercially.
    I appreciate the treatments you've given the fruit of my Southern California roots, Sam.

  • At 19/9/06 20:51, Blogger Kalyn Denny said…

    Woo Hoo Sam. Most impressive. I have no idea how you did that!

    I wish I had some avocado right now. I've been blogging away all night and forgot to eat dinner.

  • At 19/9/06 21:54, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    My mouth is watering! I love avocado just smeared on a big hunk of bread.

  • At 19/9/06 22:27, Blogger Owen said…

    Hi Sam - our local (out in the sticks) Vietnamese spot does tapioca pearl shakes in many flavors. One of the better ones is avocado - my kids like it a lot.

  • At 19/9/06 23:40, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Came across your page awhile back while searching for reviews of restaurants in sunny San Diego. Very nice!

    I thought I'd add... I found the other day that avocadoes, esp. ripe ones, make a great substitute for mayonnaise! A chopped-up egg, avocadoes, and a bit of freshly ground pepper... OMG, heavenly.

  • At 20/9/06 02:31, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm sorry, I didn't actually read your avocado test (well, not yet), but I have to say that the slide show is incredibly neat, original and fun! Good job!

  • At 20/9/06 04:35, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This is a super cool review Sam. I love that you compare different types of this fruit!

  • At 20/9/06 06:06, Blogger Jennifer Maiser said…

    Did you know that I used to occasionally work at the Brokaw booth? The Pinkertons and the Hass were my favorite, but like anything they have seasons.

    There is a time of year when the Hass have lower fat content and are a bit watery, and it's better to go with the Gwens. I often ask Will what's best that day.

    Brokaw is pretty A-R about ripeness and such -- something that really spoils me for other avocadoes.

    Have you ever had queso fresco? I eat something similar to your avocado-mozzarella-tomato combo but with queso fresco.

    Other random fact: Avocadoes are one of the only fruits that don't ripen until they are picked, so they're a great crop for farmers -- they can stay on the tree for literally months and the farmer can take only as many off as he needs for the week.

  • At 20/9/06 06:43, Blogger wheresmymind said…

    I wish my wife ate bacon...that sounds so good right now at 9:30 am *sigh*

  • At 20/9/06 07:12, Blogger Gloria said…

    I rather like the Reed avocado (http://www.avocado.org/about/varieties.php#reed). The farmer I buy them from generally has largeish ones (which is nice, because I don't like the teensy avocados with just one big pit and no flesh), and it's better than the Haas, in my opinion. Or maybe I just like it because it's different. That might be it.

  • At 20/9/06 07:15, Blogger Kevin said…

    Sweet avocado just sounds horrible.

  • At 20/9/06 08:27, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Lovely post.....And I agree: no amen to the A-men.

  • At 20/9/06 09:54, Blogger Unknown said…

    that last part just cracked me up at work! LOL

    actual avocado ice cream though is quite tasty

  • At 20/9/06 10:43, Blogger Christine said…

    Fantastic slide show. How'd you do that? Loved your avocado comparisons too.

  • At 20/9/06 14:20, Blogger Urban Forager said…

    Good heavens -- I hope you didn't think I was actually endorsing the nuclear freeze as a dessert! There are all kinds of things about the mendicant-street-preacher lifestyle that I, unlike you, am not adventurous enough to sample. But I'll confess that I did once work at a coffeehouse where we served avocado milkshakes, and I found them odd, but not nauseating.

  • At 21/9/06 06:49, Blogger Jeanne said…

    Ooooh, that's so spooky! I prefer mine mashed up on wholewheat toast with salt and pepper while Nick... likes his straight out of the skin with some vinegar poured into the hollow left left by the pit, eaten with a teaspoon!! He's the first person I've ever met that does that - I learned my mashing from my father.

    Love the slideshow! In South Africa you get these guys selling great bit bags of avocados by the roadside for almost nothing, so we used to eat tons and tons. It was quite a rude awakening when we got to the UK and saw the prices in the supermarkets!

  • At 21/9/06 11:45, Blogger Kyla said…

    I'm going to have to disagree on the avocado ice cream; the trick is, well the trick is never to cook for vegans, but beyond that, the trick is to puree them with condensed milk as though you were making a milk sahke and then putting them in the ice cream maker. A bit of nutmeg too, I'd think. Anyway it's really a new take on a popular vietnamese shake.

  • At 21/9/06 13:58, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It took me forever to get past the graphic slide show. i just stared and stared at it. Someone come up behind my in my office and I didnt even know it! Very creative. I am sooo jealous.

    Avocados are one of my favorite fruits. For years I have eaten them on toasted english muffins for breakfast and with a tablespoon of high-quality aged balsamic poured into halves, much like you describe. My godfather used to grow finger avocados, which Ijust cannot seem to find anywhere, not at the greengrocer, not at the farmers markets. Too bad, they were fun to eat.

  • At 21/9/06 20:24, Blogger Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said…

    I wasn't even aware of the Bacon or Gwen varieties of avocados. Perhaps they're a West Coast thing. I've always loved and sworn by the Hass, but on the East Coast we also get these mango-sized avacados with a smooth skin that are just awful. I think they come from Florida. They have a horrible texture and just taste bizarre.

  • At 22/9/06 03:40, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    When I lived in Kenya, I found out that it's common in East Africa to use ripe avocado on bread instead of butter. Just couldn't get enough of it, especially the huge African variety which tastes like soap when unripe, but has a gorgeous nutty taste when ripe.

  • At 22/9/06 10:49, Blogger Sam said…

    erin - eww - avocado and mayo? sometimes they do that with california rolls. Can't say i am a big fan
    linda - i am not sure about the cheese either but i wont knock it til i try it and i have heard that suggested before.
    cookiecrumb - now i want to try a feurte - I'll have to keep an eye open
    kalyn - it's easy - anyone can do it at slide.com
    c(h)ristine mine too - my mouth has been watering ever since I covered avocados for blogher about 6 weeks ago. I haven't had butter on my toast since - just 'nature's butter'.
    Owen - and you - do you like it a lot too?
    dave - now sun=bstituting for mayo instead of pairing with mayo sounds like a much better idea
    kalle - slide.com if you want a slideshow too
    bea - its fun trying to do more taste tests
    jennifer - good tips - i have to look out for the pinkertons next. i love that Brokaw's fruits are always perfectly ripe!
    wmm - i am sure if you could get hold of some of this fatted calf stuff your wide might change her wheres my mind. There is hope - I was a vegetarian for 10 years when i was her age (including a vegan stint) and now I am not.
    gloria - i like the smaller ones so i am mindful of how much fat i am eating. that wouldnt stop me from eating 2 instead though!
    kevin - it was - but i am sure i didnt do it as well as i could
    kudzu - no A-men indeed
    garrett - i bleive you til I try it
    christine - slide.com - anyone can do it - its free!
    Urban F - never fear - I am sure I detected a healthy dose of sarcasm in your original comment!
    jeanne - unlike you - i dont think Fred and Nick are wierd - the first avocado I ever ate at the age of 21 or 22 (it was an epiphany) was by the spoon and vinegar method. It's just that this season I am really into the mashing on toast method big time.
    dafina - thanks for the tip - i definitely didnt do it the right way
    Mrs B - I have seen those finger avocados somewehere in the last year, but i dont recall where - if i find them again i will let you know
    asmeo - i definitely think avocado instead of butter is the way forward!

  • At 22/9/06 14:09, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    1 - that slide show is bitchin', and way fun to watch.

    2 - I still like the Gwens best, partly because I like that they are buttery but not quite as rich as the Haas, which are a bit much for me.

    3 - My preferred out-of-skin seasoning is balsamic vinegar in the hollow with lots of salt and pepper. I also like lemon juice in the hollow with salt and chili powder.

  • At 23/9/06 08:39, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Great special effects Sam! I didn't realize there were so many varieties of avocados.

  • At 24/9/06 10:49, Blogger Dagny said…

    Love the slide show. I have always been partial to the Hass. The others -- well at least the varieties I have tried -- have always seemed to be a bit watery for my taste.

  • At 24/9/06 21:04, Blogger Civic Center said…

    I am with Fred all the way. Red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, any ole kind of vinegar in a half avocado is a strangely perfect meal.

  • At 25/9/06 16:44, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    PS - that "anonymous" post was me -- not sure why I didn't get signed in!


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