New season Australian Shepard avocados grown in Far North Queensland will hit stores mid February and continue through until May.
Australia is the only place in the world where the Shepard variety is commercially grown. The first Shepards for the year are grown in the slightly drier inland growing regions around Mount Garnet, Dimbulah and Walkamin in Queensland.
Although avocados are available to consumers in Australia year-round, the availability of Shepards is seasonal and they predominantly come from Far North Queensland growing regions.
Consumers will recognise fresh new season pear shaped Shepard avocados by their bright, very shiny green skin that doesn’t change colour as they ripen.
To select the perfect Shepard, gently press the neck of the avocado. If it gives a little, it is ready to eat straight away. The smooth to touch Shepard avocado has different enzymes to the dark bumpy skinned Hass avocado, which means the flesh of the avocado keeps its green and gold colour for longer and does not discolour when cut, making it especially perfect in salads.
Established Mount Garnet farmer, Rohan Collins, produces some of the earliest Shepards in the region and he is currently preparing for the harvest.
“The growing conditions have been ideal, and we are looking forward to the harvest,” Collins said. “Mount Garnet is 600m above sea level on the southern part of the Atherton Tablelands and the fruit develops earlier here compared to other North Queensland growing regions because of its location and climate. We are letting the Shepard avocados stay on the trees slightly longer at the start of the season so the fruit will taste its best.”
The nutty flavour, buttery texture and slightly firmer flesh make Shepard avocados perfect for all recipes, especially salads, sushi and salsa. The longer and slightly elongated Shepard avocado is a ‘slicer and dicer’, not so much of a ‘smasher’ like Hass avocados.
“I think consumers now recognise the differences between Shepard and Hass avocados and appreciate the fresh new season Shepards at the beginning of the year,” Collins said.
Avocados are rich in healthy, good fats. In fact, avocados are the only fruit apart from olives to contain monounsaturated fats.
With its delicious taste, health benefits and full of vital nutrients including Vitamin C, potassium and folate, Shepards add variety to the avocado mix for a short seasonal period.
There are some delicious and nutritious Shepard inspired recipes on australianavocados.com.au
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