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In Search of Hass Avocados

madgreek Dec 11, 2007 03:47 AM

Why is it impossible for me to find actual California Hass avocados in Nothheast Ohio? I mostly see ones grown in Mexico, and they taste terrible. To me, they taste more like banana than avocado, and commonly ripen with black oxidized dots in the meat. On the tag, they don't even say Hass (although the supermarket's tag above the bin always says Hass). Even the "Hass" labeled ones at TJ's aren't quite right (better than anywhere else, but not as good as say, 2 years ago) Is there something wrong with the California crop? Do I have any hope of finding good Hass avocados again?

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  1. m
    MacArthur Mike RE: madgreek Dec 11, 2007 05:45 AM

    It could be a seasonal thing, but that is just a guess on my part.

    1. r
      ricepad RE: madgreek Dec 11, 2007 06:34 AM

      Avocados are not really a seasonal crop - they're available year-round - but the California crops where hit pretty hard by fires this year, IIRC, so there may not be as much to go around as in the past.

      5 Replies
      1. re: ricepad
        m
        MacArthur Mike RE: ricepad Dec 11, 2007 06:41 PM

        Seasonal for California is what I meant.

        1. re: MacArthur Mike
          r
          ricepad RE: MacArthur Mike Dec 12, 2007 07:09 AM

          Hass avocados are a year-round crop in Southern California. They mature on the tree, but don't ripen (that is, soften) until picked, so they can be kept on the tree almost indefinitely until harvested...unless a freak freeze hits and wipes out an orchardful.

          1. re: ricepad
            Caroline1 RE: ricepad Dec 12, 2007 12:18 PM

            I don't know where this belief that avacadoes won't ripen on a tree began. I even heard Alton Brown make that claim. However, when I was a kid growing up in southern California, *THE* absolute greatest avacado I have ever had in my life was when I was about ten and we drove up to Santa Anna to visit Aunt May and Uncle Bill, who grew oranges for Sunkist, and Haas avacados. Aunt May's "pet" avacado tree was a huge one as tall as the house in their fenced backyard away from the orchards, and she knew how much I loved avacados. She had tied a brown paper bag around one to keep the birds from helping themselves, and when we arrived, she took me by the hand, stopped in the kitchen and got a knife, a spoon and a salt shaker. Then she took me out the back door, sat me down on the porch steps, then untied the bag and revealed the biggest avacado I have ever seen in my entire life! I swear, it was very close to the size of a football! She cut it in half, put one half next to me and handed me the other with a smile and said, "Enjoy." And boy, did I!

            Haas avacados will ripen on the tree. But they will also continue to ripen when picked green. But I don't know anything about those green thin skinned avacados that used to be a Florida winter crop. Don't eat 'em!

            1. re: Caroline1
              r
              ricepad RE: Caroline1 Dec 12, 2007 01:38 PM

              According to the University of California, an avocado ripens "only after it has been picked from the tree..."

              http://www.ucavo.ucr.edu/AvocadoWebSi...

              It's possible, tho, that the way your aunt bagged the drupes might have captured enough ethylene gas to get them to ripen on the tree.

              1. re: ricepad
                Caroline1 RE: ricepad Dec 12, 2007 09:22 PM

                Interesting! And thanks. I had always assumed the bag around the avacado was to keep the birds away. We visited them two or three times a summer and around the holidays until I was in junior high, and we always returned home with avocados, oranges and walnuts to supply not only ourselves, but the neighborhood! Well, no avacados around Christmas, but lots of other stuff. That sparkling avacado memory is the only time I recall anyone actually picking any fruit -- avacado, orange or walnut -- while we were there. What they sent home with us was either from the house or the packing shed. Well, except for the oranges my brother and I snuck into the orchard to eat off the tree. I do know that particular avocado was the richest one I've ever had! I couldn't even finish one half by myself. Strange the things that last in our memories anchored by taste and smell.

      2. g
        Gail RE: madgreek Dec 11, 2007 08:48 AM

        Costco, if you have one close.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Gail
          madgreek RE: Gail Dec 11, 2007 09:41 AM

          Thanks, but there are none in the area.

          1. re: madgreek
            h
            HillJ RE: madgreek May 3, 2008 02:40 PM

            If you have an Aldi Foods by you, they carry Hass Avocados for.89 at the moment.

        2. p
          Pampatz RE: madgreek Dec 11, 2007 10:00 AM

          California avocados are seasonal. The Mexican avocados are available year-round. Our house in Mexico is about 30-40 miles from the prime avocado growing areas around Uruapan, Michoacan. There are 2 types of Hass grown here - Hass and Lamb Hass. There are 6 other avocados exported from the Uruapan area - all look very similar to the Hass with dark pebbly skins. The difference is the shape and taste. Some are better than others.
          Your problem is probably labeling in the supermarket. A Mexican Fuerte looks like a Hass, sort-of, but lacks the delicate, buttery flavor of the Hass. Since it lo0ks like a Hass, the supermarket is just lumping all dark pebbly skin avocados as Hass.
          Try not to pick green Hass. They will take so long to ripen that you will get those nasty black spots before they are ready to eat. I ripen my avocados in a brown paper bag on the counter for a day or two. If it takes longer than that, you probably will have a yucky avocado.
          Check out the Calavo avocado website to see the different Mexican export avocados.
          Good luck.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Pampatz
            c
            cmkdvs RE: Pampatz Dec 12, 2007 07:39 AM

            By contrast, I've had good experience with the Alice Waters tip of buying very firm green avocados (of whatever variety) and ripening them at home, even if it takes several days. In the winter I do keep them in a paper bag with the bananas, and leave the bag near the fireplace.

          2. danhole RE: madgreek Dec 11, 2007 10:31 AM

            Maybe this site will help you find an avocado that will be as good as a hass.

            http://www.avocado.org/about/index.php

            I am fortunate to live in an area where I can get them year round.

            1. t
              torty RE: madgreek Dec 11, 2007 07:23 PM

              The ones my local Vons (Safeway) is selling now have a sticker that says they are from Chile. My farmers market has no Hass' now.

              1. Morton the Mousse RE: madgreek Dec 12, 2007 12:25 PM

                Best avocados on the planet:

                http://www.willsavocados.com/

                I'm from California, and can say with certainty that this is as good as it gets. Worth every penny.

                They ship ripe, though they're out of shipable avocados until next year. I'm so thankful that they go to my local farmers' market.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Morton the Mousse
                  j
                  jlafler RE: Morton the Mousse May 2, 2008 08:56 PM

                  Well, I agree with them about Bacon avocados -- I have some that I bought at the farmer's market last weekend, and they are delicious! I love Hass, but they have so taken over the market that people don't realize the variety that exists in the avocado world -- as with most fruits and vegetables.

                2. DiningDiva RE: madgreek Dec 12, 2007 01:33 PM

                  Avocados and avocado growers have taken a beating all over this year. Here's an interesting article about it from a trade publication - http://www.theproducenews.com/StoryNe...

                  Ricepad is right when he says the recent fires in San Diego county (and elsewhere in SoCal) had an affect. SD avocados usually account for up to 60% of the total volume of CA avocados. Not only did they get burned out, but they got frozen out back in January of this year with the very hard freeze. It's not been a good year to be an avocado grower in SD. And next year probably won't be either. Like many homeowners, many of the farmers did not have adequate insurance to cover their losses. And, farmers are being required to reduce water consumption by 10%.

                  Avocados are a year round crop though there are harvest peaks, and this should be one of them. The supply should hold reasonably steady because of imports, but the price probably will go up.

                  1. LNG212 RE: madgreek Dec 12, 2007 02:17 PM

                    I believe the avocados we've been getting here (nyc) have been from Mexico (we used to see both Mexico and CA). But they're not bad. I haven't noticed any marked difference -- except that they seem to be more green and thus take a bit longer to ripen. As others have posted, putting them in a paper sack on the windowsill for a day or a couple usually does the trick. (And also as others have said, those large green ones from FL are really not good.)

                    On a related note, for the first time (this a.m.) I actually saw a commercial on our local station (ny1) for Mexican Haas avocados. I've never seen a commercial for avocados before at all, let alone for ones specifically from Mexico.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: LNG212
                      c
                      Cheron RE: LNG212 May 2, 2008 06:05 PM

                      I grew up and live in Escondido, California, the former capital of California avocados. The lack of California avocados has nothing to do with freezes or San Diego getting burned out, it has everything to do with the cost of water. We chopped down old producing avocado trees on two acres because it cost more to raise them than we received in payment from Calavo, who used to come in and pick them. The water company is even going to avocado farms which have their own wells and attaching their meters and charging them for their own water! California does not support its farmers and ranchers, instead makes it impossible to make a living farming. Some of the old avocado groves still produce but that is only because they have little or no debt ratio, just water cost, new farmers cannot afford to pay for water and their mortgage at the same time so no new farms are being established. Soon there will be none. Mostly now you only see a few avocado trees in someone's yard for their own use. It is more profitable to raise truck crops in the same space that used to produce avocados and oranges. There have been less and less avocado trees here every year for the last 10 years. Most of the outlying old groves in Escondido have been chopped down and houses have been built on the property. It is a crying shame.

                      1. re: Cheron
                        janetofreno RE: Cheron May 2, 2008 09:00 PM

                        Wow...that is a shame.

                        Avocados used to be a native and common plant in parts of Southern California...my grandparents lived on "Avocado Street" in Los Angeles (in the Los Felix neighborhood). The street was lined with avocado trees, of course, and the street often littered with the things certain times of the year. They were quite edible; small hass ones IIRC. I haven't been to that street in years, but I think of it often. I wonder if any of the trees are still there...

                        1. re: Cheron
                          b
                          bulavinaka RE: Cheron May 2, 2008 10:18 PM

                          I think just about every reason given here for the avo's declining crop yield is correct - the water issue is the pulling of the lynchpin... There's also been various fungi/blight that have been taking out trees from production. The good thing is that if you're a cherimoya lover, many growers who have the will and water have been planting these trees in its place. Considering that cherimoyas were $7/pound about 10 years ago, it's slowly getting better...

                          1. re: Cheron
                            t
                            torty RE: Cheron May 3, 2008 03:14 PM

                            Wow. I remember going to the "ranch" of a business associate of my father's back in the 60's who had acres of avocados in Escondido. The trees were so beautiful. It was a magical experience to see avocados everywhere in those gorgeous groves. Plus we came home with bags of the bumpy beauties. Although the parents came over from Europe in the 50's and avos were not a part of their cuisine, my favorite school lunch sandwich was avocado with a hint of garlic powder. This was before we knew guacamole.

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