The same winter chill and spring drought that brought bumper crops of lychees and mangos to South Florida now is bestowing an abundance of avocados upon us.
Avocados are native to Mexico and Central and South America. In Florida they are havested from late May through March. In Florida, avocados typically are 2 1/2 to 14 inches long – bigger than the Haas avocados shipped here from Mexico.
Avocados’ flavor and texture vary greatly. Some of the local varieties are Donnies (an early variety), Hardee (red skin), and Russell (long neck).
As with mangos, avocado prices vary on the street and in local grocery stores.
The avocado tree in my Coconut Grove back yard is heavy with late season avocados. We have no idea what variety we have. Previous owners of our house planted the tree long ago.
This year our fruit will be sweet and flavorful. We’ve had a few tastes, thanks to wind drop and enterprising squirrels. We share our avocados with the other inhabitants of our back yard ecosystem. This year there will be more than enough for everyone.
Besides avocado and cream cheese on toast, one of our favorite ways to eat excess avocados is to make nut bread.
This recipe originally appeared in Joyce Carlisle’s The Avocado Lover’s Cookbook (Celestial Arts, 1985). The book has been out of print for a long time. Sometimes it’s available online at Bookfinder.com. The following recipe includes my personal modifications.
Avocado Nut Bread
1 ¾ cup sifted Arrowhead Mills organic whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon double acting baking powder
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/3 cups sugar (Too sweet for my taste, so I use about ½ cup honey.)
1/3 cup shortening (I use 5 1/3 tablespoons of butter)
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
1 cup mashed avocado
1/3 cup cup water
½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts.
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
Beat together sugar, butter, eggs, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Stir in avocado.
(The eggs also can be separated, which makes the cake lighter. Add the yokes with the sugar.)
Alternately combine the flour mixture, the sugar/honey mixture, and the water. Do not overbeat between additions.
Fold in the nuts. Then beat the whites, and stir them in gently into the batter at the very end.
Pour into greased and floured loaf pans and bake at 350 degrees F. for about an hour. This recipe will yield one or two loaves. Watch the cooking time as ovens vary greatly and you don’t want to overbake this bread.
Last year at Christmastime I had lots of ripe Florida avocados available, so I baked holiday fruit bread made with avocados and reconstituted organic fruit.
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