There are many different avocado varieties, but walk around the supermarket and you might get the impression there is only one – Hass.
Avocado varieties have their own unique shapes, sizes, textures, colours and flavours and talking to your local stallholder about your plans for your avocados might see you bring home something else; Sharwil, Fuerte, Pinkerton, Shepherd, Wurtz or Reed.
The reason for the popularity of Hass is that they’re the toughest; they can withstand long periods of cold storage, transport and still look appealing when artificially ripened with ethylene gas ready for supermarket shelves.
Shopping at farmers’ markets you have all of the varieties of avocado in season to choose from. You will find top quality avocados that have ripened naturally and you can talk to an expert farmer about your choices – and what a choice you have!
On Fridays you can find Mt Chowan who farm 500–600 trees in Burringbar and sell six different varieties to give them a good spread through the seasons. Lance Powell explains ‘cold storage also brings down the nutrient value of the fruit and that’s a shame because they are bloody good for you’. When Lance eats avocados at home he puts them fresh in Greek salads or just scoops them out and eats them as they are.
Kate Thompson, from Organic Avocado, farms five or six varieties in the rich volcanic soil of Alstonville. Her top priority has always been the health of her farm’s soil and she goes to great lengths to protect and improve it with mulch and ground cover. Kate agrees the best way to consume her avos at home is fresh with some lime. She also makes raw cakes and guacamole.
Anthony and Lisa farm Avocado Valley, in Upper Burringbar, and have four varieties along with dragonfruit and custard apples. They love that all the avocado growers stand with each other in support and Anthony loves chatting to the customers. He eats his avocados fresh on a piece of sourdough with lemon, pepper and salt (we’re sensing a theme here).
Finally, the Morrow family have been farming on the Alstonville plateau for more than a century. They used to sell to the big city wholesale markets, but now sell exclusively through the farmers’ markets.
All four avocado stallholders at the New Brighton and Mullum farmers’ markets agree, the commercial system is not financially viable for smaller growers. The only way to survive is to sell through farmers’ markets and some local stores. Lucky for us!
It is World Avocado Day on Saturday 31 July; a great time to celebrate with our favourite fruit.
New Brighton Farmers Market is held on Tuesdays and Mullum Farmers Market on Fridays, both 7am–11am.