Avocados are one of the greatest fruits out there (you knew that avocados were a fruit right? Sure are….more on that later). Hardly a chore in terms of those daily servings of produce though – most of us love avocado and think of them as more of a luxurious treat than something to fill the Daily Recommended Allowance of healthy foods.
The Two Main Kinds of Avocados
There are actually hundreds of varieties of avocados, but there are two that we see most often in American supermarkets. At local farmers markets you may get more choices – when you see avocados, definitely ask the farmer what type it is.
The Hass avocados account for 95% of the annual crop in California, according to the California Avocado Commission. And California grows about 90% of the avocados in this country. The growing season runs from Spring to Fall. They are smaller in size, with a pebbly skin. Hass are usually richer in flavor, creamier in texture. And Hass avocados, which are the primary crop of Mexico as well as California, make up 80% of all of the avocados grown and eaten worldwide.
The Florida avocados (which make up a much smaller part of the avocado industry) are bigger, and the skin is often a very vivid green. It’s tempting to go for the bigger avocado, but often the flesh is less dense and a little waterier, the flavor less intense and buttery.
Where Are Avocados Grown and What Kinds Are Best?
This is definitely a matter of personal opinion. The avocados we see in the supermarkets are mainly grown in Mexico, California, and Florida. Mexico is believed to be the birthplace of the avocado.
How to Know If Your Avocado is Ripe and Beautifully Green Inside
Ugh, this is a tough one. There are a few things to check, however. The first thing you are looking for is color. For Hass avocados you want to look for a very dark, almost blackish green bumpy skin, not a bright green color.
Next you want the avocado to give a little when you press it, but not too much, just a sense that it’s yielding. But it’s hard to know for sure what’s inside. Gorgeous green flesh, versus green and brown streaked blech. Avoid bruised or loose skin, dark spots, or any signs of decay.
The above is also true for other varieties of avocados, including the larger ones grown in Florida. One good suggestion it to gently squeeze the whole avocado to see if it yields to pressure, versus pressing directly into the fruit with your fingers, which can cause bruising.
What Do I Do if My Avocado has Brown Spots or Streaky Dark Fibrous Areas Inside?
There’s not much you can do but cut them out, and use whatever nice green parts are left. Bad spots can be caused by poor handling, or prolonged exposure to cold temperatures.
I always recommend buying an extra avocado or two, since it is a crapshoot to know how much of the avocados will be good. Buy from a good market with high turnover, a good produce section, and one that will allow you to return bad avocados (yes, that’s a thing! They need to know if they are buying from growers or distributors that aren’t handling their fruit well consistently).
Click here to see how to cut avocados into pretty cubes, and how to keep cut avocado from going brown!
Is it True That Avocados are a Fruit?
Yes! In fact, according to the Avocados from Mexico Commission, they are actually a berry!
How to Speed Up the Ripening of An Avocado
Avocados should be ripened on the counter, though once your avocado is ripe you can transfer it to the fridge to keep it from over-softening, and give it a few more days of fresh shelf life.
To speed up the ripening of an avocado, place it in a brown paper bag and fold over the top. To speed up the ripening even further, add a banana, and apple, or a kiwi to the bag with the avocados. The more of these addition fruits you add, the faster the ripening will go. These other fruits release ethylene, a natural gas that helps the avocados ripen faster.
How to Ripen an Avocado in the Microwave
People try this technique with mixed results, but if you’re desperate, give it a go! You are actually cooking the flesh slightly by warming it, which isn’t actually ripening, so you won’t get the same rich buttery flavor you would from the natural ripening process. And in fact, some people feel like cooking the avocado lessens the flavor. But again, desperate times call for trying new things.
Just cut the avocado in half, twist to separate the halves, and remove the pit. Place the avocado halves on a plate and heat for 30 to 45 seconds in the microwave. When it has warmed and softened, use however you like.
How to Ripen an Avocado in the Oven
Again, this is really a way to warm and soften an avocado….not to ripen it. But if you need a softer avocado, just preheat the oven to 200°F, wrap a whole avocado in aluminum foil, and heat for 10 minutes to start, checking it every 5 minutes after that to see when it becomes slightly soft. Cool and cut as desired.
And even more about avocado ripening here! Scroll down for the 5 stages of avocado ripening.
8 Fresh Avocado Recipes to Try
Here’s how to put amazing avocados to use!
Read more: How to Cut Avocados