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Is it me or is there an Avocado Blight or bad crop lately?

jcmods Feb 4, 2011 05:04 AM

OK, let me preface this by saying I know they are not exactly in season right now.

However, I used to buy them with about a 95% accuracy rate meaning that they were almot always perfect with minimal black spots. I usually buy them two or three days early and do one of two things (because it is hard to control the level of ripeness in the stores and I usually want to use them on Tuesdays and Wednesdays).

A) If they are pretty ripe already I buy them and put them in the fridge to keep two or three days (so they don't get mushy). I know what you are thinking: Refrigeration is bad. But I have been doing this for years with no adverse effect.

B) If they are under-ripe I just let them sit out for the two or three days.

Lately however, almost all have significant black spots / stringy tough spots. Sometimes I can cut around it and use the rest (but it ruins the look as it turns the whole thing gray). However, it is edible and I hate to throw out something that costs about $2.00. Sometimes the whole thing is unsalvagable. Another problem is that the avocado refuses to ripen. And yet a third thing which I never saw before was the seed that is so large it is practically at the skin. The flesh was so tough I had to throw it out.

Is anyone else experiencing this problem? Like I said, my batting average has gone from .955 to about .355 which may be ok in baseball, but not for picking expensive avocados.

Do I need to give up? Are avocados going the way of the banana (i.e. the variety we know and love becoming extinct?)

Would love to hear.

  1. coll Feb 4, 2011 05:14 AM

    I did get a few just as you described, black spots and stringy, maybe a month ago, but all the ones I'm buying lately are better than usual. Plus the price came back down, which is usually an indicator that all is well.

    1 Reply
    1. re: coll
      l
      lalajane Nov 4, 2012 10:20 AM

      I have had the same experience. I bought some at Wegmans that were all (6) so bad, I complained (too far to go and return). Each had half or more black spots, and what was green was terribly stringy.

    2. jcmods Feb 4, 2011 05:26 AM

      PS, I am located in NY. Maybe they are getting bounced around too much in transport? It wasn't this bad before. I also didn't consider the type of avocado we might be getting.
      Based on this web site, I am thinking we are getting the "Gwen" or the "Haas" right now. (Other times of year could include the "Bacon" or "Reed" type, but I never really paid that much attention).

      http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/in...

      1 Reply
      1. re: jcmods
        coll Feb 4, 2011 05:35 AM

        I'm in NY too. I'm not saying the avos I get are like the one Sis ships me from her backyard in San Diego, but the last few weeks they have been better than in a long while. Creamy but not mushy. The bad ones may have been a brand other than Calvados, now that I think of it. I think Calvados had some kind of production problem recently, although can't remember the specifics. But the way the weather has been this winter, who knows?

      2. LNG212 Feb 4, 2011 05:53 AM

        I was having no luck about a month ago either. I was buying and letting them sit for a couple of days to soften and I experienced what you did - they either didn't soften at all or went from rock hard to stringy and gross on the inside overnight. So I stopped picking them up.

        I am in ny (nyc) too. Today WF is having a special of 5 avocados for $5. They felt generally ready to go and I purchased 5 but have not yet cut them open. They are Haas from Mexico (Cavalo label, organic). I'm hoping they are good since they "feel right" from the outside right now.

        1 Reply
        1. re: LNG212
          buttertart Feb 4, 2011 11:30 AM

          The best ones I've had this year (from NYC stores) were from Mexico, those should be good. The CA ones I've had have been spotty. I can't bear those black pimply-scarry things they get on the surface between the fruit and the peel.

        2. i
          italia84 Feb 4, 2011 06:01 AM

          yes! I thought it was just me. There's this little hispanic grocery store down the street from me that I've been buying them at for years. They're always perfect. Lately they've been just waaay over ripe. Mushy and black. ALL of them feel mushy. I'll buy the one that feels the most firm, and even those are black. When I was in NY last month I was in a store near my mother and picked a couple up that felt a little firmer. They were much better than what I've found near me lately, though they still had a black spot or two on them.

          imma scaaaared!!

          1. c
            cheesecake17 Feb 4, 2011 08:41 AM

            I haven't had much of an issue lately with black or mushy spots.

            But I can't seem to get my avocados to ripen! I bought them Sunday and put them in a paper bag in the pantry to soften- they're still hard as rocks. Any way to get them to soften for Sunday? We'll have many unhappy guests if there's no guacamole for superbowl!

            5 Replies
            1. re: cheesecake17
              jcmods Feb 4, 2011 09:06 AM

              Yes I had the same thing happen. One avocado ripened and was actually good (best I had seen in a while). The other was soft enough to chance it, but when I cut into it it was awful. Tough as leather. I know they ripen in hot weather much faster. Maybe fly them down to Rio and back....LOL.

              1. re: jcmods
                c
                cheesecake17 Feb 4, 2011 09:08 AM

                I wish I could fly them somewhere to ripen! Otherwise I hope something magic happens btwn now and Sunday

                1. re: cheesecake17
                  Sloth Feb 4, 2011 09:23 AM

                  Have you tried putting them by some bananas? The ethylene emitted from the bananas as they ripen will hasten the avocados' ripening as well.

                  1. re: Sloth
                    c
                    cheesecake17 Feb 4, 2011 10:05 AM

                    do the bananas have to be ripe? I don't have any bananas, but I can try to get some today

                    1. re: cheesecake17
                      Sloth Feb 4, 2011 10:10 AM

                      Bananas at any stage will work, but I seem to get best results with yellow bananas that are still a little green at the ends. One site I checked said to put both bananas and avocados in a paper bag to really speed things up, but I've never tried that myself.

            2. cayjohan Feb 4, 2011 10:48 AM

              It seems every market I try lately has only either completely mushy avocados, or rock hard ones - no middle ground. I'm a patient person, and can wait for ripening, so I go for the hard ones and wait. My patience wore thin a few dinners ago, and I wanted some sliced avocado and thought I could deal with a slight under-ripeness. Cut into the fruit, and it was a study in gray and black, even having been very firm to the touch and to my reading, under-ripe. Tried another, and then one more, then took a shot on the last one. Same deal with all of them. A buck and a half per, into the compost. Not the first time I've had bad avocados this year, but these were amazingly bad.

              I've never, ever had firm + blackened in an avocado before this year. And so, of course, I'm really craving avocados.

              2 Replies
              1. re: cayjohan
                s
                SmartCookie Feb 4, 2011 11:38 AM

                Unless you're getting the avocados from Mexico, I suspect that the majority of them are coming from California, and the rains/cool weather there have been terrible for the past 6 weeks or so - I suspect that that might be part of the problem.

                1. re: SmartCookie
                  Sam Salmon Feb 4, 2011 09:40 PM

                  It's been an issue here in Vancouver for the best part of 6 months-they rot almost before they ripen.

                  Lately Capers/Wholefoods has had some standard sized non-organic Mexican Avocados that are like the ones we used to get-for twice the price of course.

              2. s
                suezeekay Jul 27, 2011 09:39 PM

                I live in Maine and over the years have had good luck buying avocados at Hannaford, the only grocery store close to me. but in the last month I would say, the avocados have been full of brown spots or brown strings. It really irritates me to spend so much on them and then they are totally unuseable. I tried the organic ones, but not much better. So, I'm giving up on them for a while.

                1. coll Jul 28, 2011 05:19 AM

                  There is a big problem with this season's avocados, due to drought and fires. This is in Mexico AND Arizona, and goes back before the recent fires. They are wholesaling for double what they usually are, which is always a bad sign qualitywise: means there's a shortage.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: coll
                    grayelf Jul 28, 2011 09:12 AM

                    Unlike Sam, I haven't had much of a problem in Vancouver with the quality (it's been surprisingly good what with being picked underripe and shipped a gazillion kms) but the prices this year have been higher than usual. Doesn't stop me buying them but I have noticed. Most of the ones I buy are from Mexico at the moment.

                  2. n
                    noodlepoodle Jul 28, 2011 12:19 PM

                    I've had problems with grey fleshed avocados three separate times this month. Not very appetizing. I've had to throw all three out. I purchased two at Hannaford's in Vermont and the other was organic. I think I'll take a breather and wait till fall. I suppose it could be the weather wherever they came from.

                    1. p
                      pine time Jul 28, 2011 12:33 PM

                      I'm in San Diego county, and even here, have had these same problems for the past # of months. Best luck I have is at my local Barron's, with very small (just a whit bigger than an egg) avocadoes from Fallbrook, selling at 5/$1 (yeah, cheap). Can't rely on the big ones any more, it seems, which really puts a damper on my guac, now that my tomatoes are producing like mad.

                      1. crowmuncher Jul 28, 2011 12:48 PM

                        fyi- the FL ones are just starting to ripen on the trees here; can't speak for CA though...

                        1. jcmods Jul 28, 2011 02:21 PM

                          Funny after I wrote this thread I was having decent luck. Now it seems I got a bad batch again. Once I had a bad avocado that WOULD NOT ripen. Hard as a rock. When I cut into it, it was completely black. I can live with a smattering of gray, but when it is hard and fibrous you have to cut around it. Sometimes you have to ditch the whole thing. Summer is usually the best season overall.

                          What causes the black and gray flesh. Too much water? Too much bumping around?

                          1. jcmods Nov 2, 2012 03:20 PM

                            I found this advice on some web page and will have to give it a try. Just opened up two Avocados and got less than three tablespoons of usable flesh out of it. Lately I have been going with Mexican Avocados as opposed to Peru (because the Peruvian were almost all bad for a time). I am getting annoyed paying $2 per avocado only to have one in three turn out bad. I am going to try it and I will report of it works.

                            http://www.nwedible.com/2012/05/never...

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: jcmods
                              buttertart Nov 3, 2012 04:58 PM

                              This makes a lot of sense, but if they're still hard when you buy them and you do this, do they ripen?

                              1. re: buttertart
                                l
                                lcool Nov 3, 2012 05:07 PM

                                I only buy GREEN avocados.Some one pointed out to me the stem lesson about 40 years ago.Stem is there,area around it blemish free and the fruit overall is an even,unblemished green and weight for shape feels right.
                                No this won't work 100% of the time.If temperatures were off or fluctuated a lot in transit,shipping you end up experiencing a few other bruising syndromes.
                                At home,ripen on the counter then refrigerate.I have kept the ones ripened here for 5 to 7 days in the frig.

                                1. re: lcool
                                  buttertart Nov 3, 2012 05:19 PM

                                  I buy hard ones. It depends on the variety, some are much darker green, almost black, when unripe than others. My question is whether the fruit having been breached at the stem end would continue to ripen. Or are you to wait, ripen, and then see what it looks like when you flick away the stem? And if it's brownish, then what...
                                  They even ripen in the fridge if left long enough.

                                  1. re: buttertart
                                    l
                                    lcool Nov 4, 2012 04:12 AM

                                    buttertart
                                    This is going to be a messy bit of writing for an answer as I sit here and actually think through what I do by habit,on auto-pilot,buying an average of 3 to 5 a week for decades.
                                    "breached at the stem end would continue to ripen" I really don't have a good answer as I avoid them.But here goes as to my why.
                                    If I buy my usual firm,hard,unblemished with a visible stem and for some reason a blemish appears around the stem or it falls off ?early at home,yes it ripens.Yet,90% of the time or more those are the ones with all that nasty fiber and or some other loss of flesh.I don't check the stem for "ripeness".My habit,system is a "feel in my hand" the larger bulb end,cupped,mostly palm and a gentle squeeze,roll squeeze for forgiveness.This not a visual thing at all.I have a resistance,forgiveness point when they get the frig.
                                    I grow stone fruit,Maryland and Italy and much first rate sort really is an in hand braille sort of thing with peaches and apricots when selling on a tiny,contract scale.
                                    So much I see on the shelf will never ripen.Soften yes,but not ripen.

                                  2. re: lcool
                                    jcmods Nov 5, 2012 01:48 PM

                                    I usually buy them green too. This is no guarantee that they will not be awful when I do cut into them. When they get to the ripe stage and I am not ready I usually put them in the fridge (there is no evidence that this causes them to turn black and stringy as sometimes they are perfect.)

                                    And I am not sure if removing the stem at the unripe stage is necessarily a bad thing (or would it tell you nothing).

                                    1. re: jcmods
                                      l
                                      lcool Nov 5, 2012 02:52 PM

                                      Granted those of us wanting a stem,unblemished is anecdotal or not.My experience is,9 of 10 are recipe ready my way,for me with no change in the future.99.9% of all the avocados I buy are long distance ships,East Coast US,Montana,Italy and France which could make a difference in many ways.

                              2. r
                                robt5265 Nov 4, 2012 09:48 PM

                                I've been getting them at Aldi's on special for $.39 a piece. They are never ripe when buying, but rippen perfectly in two days.

                                1. l
                                  lovetoeatkp Mar 18, 2013 01:11 PM

                                  hello, I see this is from 2011 but we are in 2013 now and I am having the same problems with 4 out of 5 avocados. I have given up on them. Too expensive and feel like I'm playing the lottery.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: lovetoeatkp
                                    coll Mar 18, 2013 01:57 PM

                                    You can't mess with Mother Nature. If the weather sucks, it's not hard to see in your local grocery store.

                                    1. re: coll
                                      buttertart Mar 18, 2013 04:06 PM

                                      I've had pretty good luck lately buying the Mexican ones hard and ripening them at room temp.

                                      1. re: buttertart
                                        j
                                        James Cristinian Mar 18, 2013 04:14 PM

                                        I bought five big ones from Mexico last week @89 cents each from the local farmer's market. All were excellent, bought at varying stages of ripeness. It doesn't hurt that it's next door from the Houston Avocado Company.

                                    2. re: lovetoeatkp
                                      o
                                      ohmyyum Mar 18, 2013 04:44 PM

                                      I got a bag of 6 from Costco for $3.99. I left two on the counter to ripen for immediate use and the rest went into the fridge. They all ripened perfectly-- even the one I forgot about for over a week was green inside and delicious smashed on some toast, though it was too soft for slicing. I believe they were from Mexico. Perhaps your market is not handling them well?

                                      1. re: ohmyyum
                                        c
                                        comestible Mar 18, 2013 07:25 PM

                                        (Just realized this is a really old thread.)

                                        Locally, I think they key is finding a grocer who has good ones. I always go to a specific local Mexican deli (NYC) where I am 95% pleased with their avocados. I usually buy them black but pretty firm, and they are ready in a day or two. But even somewhat soft they are good the same day. They are generally a dollar each, sometimes $1.35.

                                        Have had the Costco bags too. These have generally been quite good, but they ripen all at the same time! So we figure we'd better use them up in a day or two once they ripen.

                                    3. ElsieB Mar 19, 2013 05:30 AM

                                      I think the tip to flick off the stem end to see if it is green underneath has been discovered. I went through 15-20 at the grocery store and more than half had the stems off.

                                      1. c
                                        cgarner Mar 19, 2013 08:29 AM

                                        Replying to an old thread as well

                                        I’ve tried everything to get good avocados, buy them hard, let them ripen in a bag, ripen in the fruit bowl, ripen in the fridge, ripen on the windowsill… patiently, check them every day or so, and then when you think that they’re at perfect ripeness, slice open to find that they’re full of black spots throughout

                                        Even the ones I get at Aldi

                                        The last good avocados I got were from the Publix in Ft. Meyers beach while on vacation!

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: cgarner
                                          jcmods Mar 22, 2013 10:43 AM

                                          Lately (meaning past year or so) I have found that Trader Joe's has the best batting average. Almost 9 out of 10 are perfect (and the bad one wasn't completely bad).

                                          I tried the thing about pulling out the little stem. It seems to be a good indicator if you are going to eat it the same day. However, if you are going to keep a ripe avocado in the fridge for a few days (to prevent over-ripening) I have not found it to be a perfect predictor.

                                          I also tend to avoid Peru and buy the Mexican. For a while, the Peruvians were almost uniformly terrible.

                                        2. m
                                          Mary Squid Jul 15, 2013 07:30 AM

                                          This is the best answer I have seen regarding stringy avocados,but sadly it will not keep us from buying them. It does give good uses for them though. http://producetalk.blogspot.com/2008/...

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: Mary Squid
                                            jcmods Jul 15, 2013 02:22 PM

                                            This could explain why I have noticed that the Peruvian avocados are almost always bad. I try to stick with Mexico if possible.

                                            1. re: Mary Squid
                                              p
                                              pedalfaster Jul 15, 2013 03:11 PM

                                              Thanks for posting this.

                                              Currently living in the Midwest, I've been buying Mexican avocados at Aldi lately and letting them ripen on the counter. So far so good (and cheaper than alternatives). No stringiness noted.
                                              [For reference I grew up amongst the avocado groves outside of San Diego- so that is my reference point].

                                              1. re: pedalfaster
                                                coll Jul 21, 2013 06:07 AM

                                                When you've had San Diego avocadoes, you do get a bit picky about any others.

                                                1. re: coll
                                                  p
                                                  pedalfaster Jul 21, 2013 10:03 AM

                                                  True ^^^.
                                                  My father(still in SD) brings me a flat when he drives out.
                                                  I realize that may not be a realistic option for everyone looking to whip up some guac for a big game or the 'que.

                                                  1. re: pedalfaster
                                                    coll Jul 22, 2013 01:50 AM

                                                    My sister mails me a dozen in a shoebox occasionally, when her yard is overflowing. They usually arrive in pretty good condition.

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