How To Select Avocados
According to the avocado experts at Mission, avocados undergo five stages of ripeness after harvest:
- Hard: Freshly-picked avocados will be very hard with no give at all.
- Pre-conditioned: Once the ripening process begins, avocados will begin to soften. Pre-conditioned avocados will still be hard with little to no give.
- Breaking: The ripening process is fully underway in these avocados but not yet complete. If they yield slightly to pressure, they’re only a couple days from ripeness.
- Firm-ripe: When avocados yield slightly to gentle pressure, they’re ready to eat! The flesh will still be firm, perfect for cubing or slicing.
- Ripe: Fully ripe avocados will be somewhat soft and yield easily to gentle pressure. They’re ideal for mashing at this stage.
When are Avocados in Season?
Even though demand for avocados in the US is always high, California is the only state with an avocado season that lasts all year.
Few other states grow avocados, including Hawaii and Florida. Avocados are in season in Hawaii from November to February and in Florida from June to January.
Varieties of Avocados
While you might think that an avocado is an avocado, there are actually many varieties of the popular fruit!
Some of the better-known (and best-tasting) varieties of avocados include:
- Choquette avocados have a glossy, smooth skin and watery flesh.
- Hass avocados are the most popular and have a nutty, buttery flavor.
- Pinkerton avocados have an oblong shape and creamy flesh.
- Maluma avocados are dark-purple and primarily grown in South Africa.
- Lula avocados are easier to grow but are more watery and contain fewer natural oils than other varieties.
- Reed avocados have a more subtle flavor and are much larger than other varieties.
- Gwen avocados are a Guatemalan variety that is extremely similar to Hass avocados.
Some lesser-known (but still great!) varieties of avocados include:
- Ettinger avocados have a mild flavor and bright green skin.
- Zutano avocados have a more buttery taste that’s unlike any other variety.
- Fuerte avocados have a distinct pear shape and a texture similar to hazelnuts.
- Bacon avocados have a light-brown skin and light taste.
- Monroe avocados are large (growing over two pounds each!) and are very firm.
- Sharwil avocados are an Australian variety with a bold flavor.
- Cleopatra avocados are a dwarf variety that is relatively new.
Avocado Nutrition Facts & Benefits
Let’s look at the nutritional facts of Hass avocados — these are the most common variety found in grocery stores across the country.
One serving is about one-fifth of an avocado; however, most people consume half an avocado at a time, which contains:
- Approximately 114 calories
- 10.5 grams of fat
- 1.34 grams of protein
- 5.9 grams of carbohydrates
- .21 grams of sugar
- 4.6 grams of fiber
Next, let’s look at a few ways that avocados can benefit your health:
- Avocados are a great source of various vitamins and minerals, making them highly nutritious!
- Avocados help fight inflammation and show promising anticancer properties.
- Avocados are high in fiber, which is lacking in many Western diets.
- Avocados contain high levels of antioxidants that help prevent neurodegenerative diseases.
How To Store Avocados
Timing is the name of the game when you select and store avocados. Will you need them tonight? In a few days? Choose based on ripeness to make sure your avocado is ready when you need it. But if you’re not bringing home a ripe avocado to eat right away, storing them is easy.
At room temperature, avocados will progress through the five levels of ripeness in about as many days. That means if you buy a breaking avocado, it will be fully ripe in just two to three days when left on your countertop. Mission uses AVOLAST Powered By Hazel®, a premier post-harvest program, to extend the shelf life of their avocados; you’re less likely to find that your avocados have gone bad unexpectedly!
If you need to speed up the ripening process, place your avocados in a brown paper bag with an apple or a banana. Leave the bag closed on a counter or windowsill for one to two days. Check on them regularly and don’t forget about them! Apples and bananas give off a gas call ethylene while ripening, which can stimulate the process in other fruits like avocados.
How to Prepare Avocados
There are many delicious ways to prepare avocados! Here are some of our favorites:
- Simple seasoning — the easiest way to enjoy avocados is sprinkling salt, pepper, or your favorite seasoning and eating it with a spoon.
- Add avocado in your scrambled eggs.
- Stuffed avocados — fill half an avocado with an egg, bake until set, and add bacon, herbs, or other toppings.
- Make homemade guacamole!
- Substitute avocados for mayo in recipes or on a sandwich.
- Add avocado to your salads to get extra fiber and feel full longer.
- Substitute avocados for sour cream (add lime juice for some extra flavor!).
- Top your sushi rolls with slices of avocado.
- Grill avocado slices to make a great BBQ side dish.
- Bake or fry pieces of avocado to make the perfect (healthy) french fry substitute.