IT'S shaping as a smashing year for avocado lovers.
Growers are expecting a bumper harvest of Hass avocados to hit supermarket shelves this season - a phenomenal eight million more kilograms compared with last year.
The nine per cent increase on last year's crop from 87,000 tonnes to 95,000 tonnes is part due to growers planting en masse over the past five to six years to meet Australia's skyrocketing demand for the fruit.
"It's going to be a good year for avocado lovers," said Avocados Australia chief executive John Tyas.
"It takes about three or four years for an avocado tree to start bearing commercial crops and a lot of avocado trees have gone into the ground in the last five years, particularly in Queensland and WA, to keep up with the insatiable demand for avocados we have in Australia.
Known for their purple skin and creamy texture, new season Hass avocados began hitting the shelves last week, gradually replacing the green-skinned Shepard avocados, the main avocado variety available to shoppers since late February.
Unlike Shepard avocados, the Hass variety changes colour from green to purple as they ripen.
If you're not sure whether yours is ripe, gently press near the top of the fruit - a ripe avocado will give a little when pressed. If it's still hard, leave it on the bench for 1-3 days.
To keep cut avocado fresh for longer, and prevent the flesh from browning, squeeze lemon juice or a dash of vinegar to the cut flesh, seal in cling wrap to remove all air or store in an air-tight container in the fridge.
To mark the changeover, Australian Avocados has offered a few ideas you might not have thought of.
Frozen delight: Blend Hass avocado flesh with honey, coconut cream and berries and freeze as a dessert.
Hot chips: Slice avocados into wedges, cover with breadcrumbs and your favourite spices and bake for a tasty snack.
Dressings: Mix avocados with lemon, garlic, olive oil and your favourite leafy herbs to give your meal an extra boost.
Smoothies: Blend in half an avocado with banana, yoghurt or your milk of choice and honey for a creamy smoothie.
For more recipes, click here.
They're full of nutrients, making them great for pregnant women,
They're a terrific first food for babies, assisting with growth and development, brain function, muscles and nerves, bones and teeth, vision, skin and hair, healthy gut, immunity development and the absorption of iron.
They're rich in good fats, making them perfect for the waistline and for helping maintain heart health.
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