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Brooks Tropicals offers SlimCados year-round

When it comes to avocados, it is “SlimCado” pickings over at Brooks Tropicals.

That is because the Homestead, FL-based grower specializes in the SlimCado, a unique avocado variety naturally lower in fat and calories, with a vibrant light green color and lighter taste that is both creamy and buttery — and makes a delicious guacamole.

Avocadogrove1 Brooks Tropicals grows its SlimCados in Florida and the Dominican Republic.“We’re proud to say SlimCado season is now year-round,” said Mary Ostlund, marketing director at Brooks Tropicals. “Our Florida season runs from June to March. We supplement Florida avocados with Dominican Republic avocados starting in October to provide a good volume and quality for our retailers, wholesalers and foodservice customers. In Florida, 2019 is becoming our comeback year from [2017’s] Hurricane Irma. We’re happy to bounce back from the storm.”

Brooks Tropicals has about 1,000 acres of avocado groves in Florida, in the southern most part of Miami-Dade County.

Its ability to offer year-round supply to retailers, wholesalers and foodservice professionals gives Brooks Tropicals an edge over many other avocado suppliers. “It is also important to note that the extra step we take to hydro-cool makes a big difference in shelf life,” Ostlund said.

That is important because unlike other fruits, SlimCados don’t ripen on the tree. “They start ripening as soon as they’re picked,” Ostlund said. “Our hydro-cooler program cools down these avocados from upwards of 120 degrees to a temperature that helps them ripen slower. That said, SlimCados are fine with cooler temperatures, but they don’t like to be cold. Don’t store them in apple storage.”

Like apples, avocados are alternate year trees, meaning they bear heavy loads of fruit every other year, but Brooks Tropicals has taken steps to ensure a continuous supply.

“The good news is that which year is alternate depends on the variety of the SlimCado,” Ostlund said. “So we plant varieties to make sure one year isn’t that much shorter than another.”

In the Brooks Tropicals groves, the trees are also lovingly tended.

“Our avocado trees love a haircut,” Ostlund said. “Pruning helps the sun reach more of the tree. And the tree loves it, growing more fruit than trees that haven’t gotten a recent pruning.”

Avocado trees have a long life, but have to “fight” their way to get to “old age,” Ostlund noted. “Growing shallow roots and doing that growing in a hurricane zone is a recipe for toppled trees during a storm. The good news is, set them back up and usually the tree will get back to normal harvesting in time,” Ostlund said, adding a caveat that it took 25 years for the groves to come back when Hurricane Andrew struck Florida in 1992.

Ostlund suggested stocking SlimCados along with Hass and other avocado varieties as a way to build total produce department avocado sales.

“You’re giving the consumers a choice. You don’t just sell one kind of apple. Why limit yourself to just one kind of avocado?” Ostlund asked. “Especially when avocado sales are going through the roof. These light green beauties provide a nice contrast in the avocado display, but don’t stop there. This avocado is the avocado of choice for salads, both leafy and fruit. SlimCados make a gorgeous display next to tomatoes. Make sure they’re part of any salad display as well as backyard grilling displays.”

The SlimCado also is ideal for guacamole.

“Some prefer Hass for guac, but SlimCados don’t brown as quickly as a Hass avocado,” Ostlund noted. “You can make a guac overnight, cover and refrigerate, and let the ingredients blend together while chilling in the fridge. I use a dried herb mix to add to a SlimCado. I make it the night before letting the dried herbs come to life. This guac gets rave reviews from our visiting buyers. Some don’t believe it is a mxi.”

Because SlimCados are American-grown, they also carry a certain cache in the produce case.

“Domestic avocados are getting harder to find. Chefs in the Southeast leverage locally grown attributes for this versatile avocado. Chefs in other locales may want to take note,” Ostlund said.