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Choosing Avocados

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
We like avocados, which in this part of the country we buy firm and then allow to ripen, either in the open or if we're in a hurry, in a paper bag. Nine times out of ten this works just fine, and in a few days we have a nice, creamy avocado ready to dress or mash or stuff or whatever.

It's time number ten that I'm writing about. The avocado looks and feels fine at the market, but when we let it ripen and cut it open, the flesh is mostly an unappetizing black. This happened this past week with all four of the Hass avocados we bought. Ugh. (Not to mention a hasty replanning of the dinner menu.)

Are there any avocado experts out there who know what's up? Is there away to recognize these outlaw avocados at the market? Is there something else we should be doing?
post #2 of 22
I'm in Texas and our local grocery/markets have hass 4 for a dollar. I noticed the same thing when I bagged some as usual. I acually went back to see if I could find a ripe one and it was sub par at best.
I have no idea why, but I think it might have to do with transport. If the fruit goes through freezing temps and then warm on it's way to you it may have an effect as happens to other fruit.
post #3 of 22
Avocados are not a real hardy fruit...and they are one of the few fruits that will not ripen on the matter how long it hangs. It will rot and drop off, but not ripen (had them in my yard when I lived in Puerto Rico).

I suspect the shipping is the culprit, possibly also mishandling and bruising could play a role too.

Most all of us give them a simple squeeze to see if they are as soft as we want...maybe there were thirty others just like us before we go to the store!

post #4 of 22
Because we live in California, avocados are a common fruit in our kitchen. I've been using avocados for half a century, and I always select them by making sure they yield to gentle pressure but are essentially quite firm. I make sure there are no blemishes on the fruit and that they are heavy for their size. I also look to see if the point at which the stem connects with the fruit is green or brown, understanding that a brown stem base is not ripe.
Even with all that, I still come home with avocados that look just like those you describe. I make it a habit to take them back to the market and return them to the produce manager. He usually replaces them but, if he doesn't, I have at least made my point.
My failures in life are few. The most blatant of these is my attempts at retirement. I've studied the process carefully but cannot begin to understand how it is done.
My failures in life are few. The most blatant of these is my attempts at retirement. I've studied the process carefully but cannot begin to understand how it is done.
post #5 of 22
As far as I'm concerned, it's a crapshoot just like melons. :( I just had a similar experience, with some avocados from Chile: most were fine, but some were fibrous :eek: and discolored. They all looked the same on the outside, and all felt the same after I let them ripen. And I used them within a reasonable amount of time, not let them sit too long in the fridge (which contributes to the yuckiness).

So instead of using them sliced or diced, I made a big batch of guacamole. While it's not great to freeze it, it could be worse, so that's what I did with the extra.

When life hands you avocados, make guacamole! :roll:
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
post #6 of 22
I had exactly the same issue the other day, and I'm not sure what can be done to prevent it.
post #7 of 22
It might just be that this time of year, that's the way they grow. :(

I was originally thinking of when Mexican avocados were first allowed into the United States about 10 years ago: the avocados were just not beautiful the way California ones are -- so I thought maybe it was because they came from Chile, and the Chileans hadn't yet gotten the US need for gorgeous produce. But that doesn't make sense, because Chile is very successful with other produce. So, I don't know. But I'll chalk it up to seasonality (or lack thereof).
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
post #8 of 22
About 40 years ago I was sent to Santa Barbara to develop an unplanted portion of a large ranch devoted to lemons and avocados. I got to know the ranch manager (who was on the Calavo board of directors) when the association was just developing a nationwide marketing program.

When I was a kid on the East Coast, avocados were the "alligator pears" from Florida. The Haas from California would show up for a couple of months every two or three years, when there were some of the relatively small Cal drop left over to try to market on the EC. By the time they showed up again, everybody had forgotten what the heck they were.

They were also experimenting, at the time, with the production and flash-freezing of guacamole, which has turned out well, of course. It's considered wonderful that they will keep for a considerable period on the tree, as the crop can be fed gradually to market, avoiding a glut over a short period that would drive the price down.

The manager told me that one sign of a ripe avo was a loose stem in the socket of the fruit. But, I frequently have the exact problem described above :(


travelling gourmand
travelling gourmand
post #9 of 22
As far as I can tell, it's like buying lottery tickets.

Storage and shipping might be part of the problem, although I'm not sure exactly what's happening.

I've had phenominal luck with Sam's Club, very good luck with Wegmans (a high-end grocery store) and about 50/50 with Price Chopper (not actually a less less expensive store, just worse)

post #10 of 22
WASHINGTON, Dec. 20, 2006 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture has levied civil penalties against New Limeco, LLC and Coast Tropicals -- both of Princeton, Fla. -- for violating Section 8(e) of the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937.

New Limeco and Coast Tropicals were fined for violating the avocado shipping schedule. A stipulation agreement was accepted in both cases and settlements totaling more than $2,100 were accepted by the Marketing Order Administration Branch Compliance staff of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service.

Section 8(e) of the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act provides that when certain domestically produced commodities are regulated under a federal marketing order, imports of the commodity must meet the same or comparable grade, size, quality and maturity requirements.
post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 

Choosing Avacados

Thank you all for the interesting discussion; at least I'm not alone in my inability to always choose wisely.

Since we tend to buy our avacados at the weekly public (a/k/a farmer's) market along with most of our other produce, returns are not an option. You just try to remember from whom you bought the offending item and not frequent their stand again, at least for a while.

We did get some very nice, large Fuerte avacados (the smooth-skinned kind) this past weekend. Though I slightly prefer the Hass, these have been delicious with a citrus/olive oil vinagrette.

Of course all of this may be moot in the short term if the dire predictions about the freeze in California come to pass. We'll go from a surplus of avacados to a pricey few, even with the Fuerte's from Florida in the market.

Then again, that's part of the magic of fresh produce: enjoy it while you can. Its absence makes all that more desireable when it returns.
post #12 of 22
I think its just a matter of hit or miss with avocados. Here in Australia the avocados are just wonderful but there is always the odd one that you get that just isn't quite right.
Jenyfari from Only Cookware and Only Cookware Blog - A Consumer Guide to Cookware
Jenyfari from Only Cookware and Only Cookware Blog - A Consumer Guide to Cookware
post #13 of 22

I just finished lunch; I had been waiting for this for a couple of days (we've been out alot at lunch time). 

Tuna Salad stuffed into Avo halves...


It was so tasteless, I could just barely chock it down.

This the first time that I'm having an Avocado here in the continental United States. 

Having just come back from Hawaii, the fruits are bountiful right now

and you see signs in folks yards "please do not pick the Avocados". 

They seem to be a different variety as well. 

Here they were that "bumpy" skinned where as in Honolulu

they tend to be the brighter green, smooth skinned, and VERY flavorful.

Am I just not pick the correct fruits?

post #14 of 22

Here is a list of avocado varieties , maybe that will help?

Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
post #15 of 22

There are only four commercially significant species, Haas, Fuerte, Bacon and Gwen; and of those Haas and Fuerte are by far the most common.   The bumpy skinned avocados are Haas.  The smooth skinned fruit -- including, probably, those you saw in Hawaii -- are Fuertes. 


If it's still a question after five years, the black was most likely the result of over-ripening and/or bruising.  Fibrous, tasteless avocados are under-ripe, picked too soon, and/or experienced cold weather.  The species wasn't and isn't the problem.  Both Haas and Fuerte are delicious.  So are Gwen and Bacon.  FWIW, Gwen look like larger, greener Haas; and for whatever reason are the species I most often associate with being picked too soon. 



Edited by boar_d_laze - 6/15/12 at 3:51pm
post #16 of 22



BDL, as always you’re very helpful


ChefPeteMcCracken, I should've thought to look there


As I mentioned, I haven’t purchased, nor have I even looked (I know, you live where? for how long now?)

at the Avocados here as they were so expensive (to me anyway)

and my husband does not care for them. 

At the green grocer the other day

I saw the cutest little and I mean little avo’s

for I think it was 2 for $1.00 (a good price here)

so I thought that I’d give them a whirl. 

Not too soft, not too dark, no apparent bruises … real pretty when I cut into it ...

I was hopeful, but my dreames were dashed!

post #17 of 22

I have found selecting them by the "belly button process"  usually does the trick in avoiding the bad ones.  If the stem socket is an "outie" you're good to go, if it's an "innie" pass it up.  This is only true for the Haas variety though.

post #18 of 22

Many Mahalos (thank you) ChefHoff, I hadn’t heard that one before

The remaining piece of fruit I think will be smashed and made

(more like forced) into Guacamole.

Maybe that will improve the palatability  

post #19 of 22

The primary commercial variety grown in Hawaii is the Sharwill. Other popular cultivars include: 'Kahaluu', 'Nishikawa', 'Yamagata', 'Ohata', 'Haas' and 'Linda'. There are over 200 varieties grown on the Big Island.  Haas, although grown in Hawaii, haven't done that well there.  Maybe because we would view them as pretty small.  Hawaii avocados tend to be much larger than the ones typically sold on the mainland (although I've had some from Florida that were closer in size).  The ones I get in Kona (where much of Hawaii commercial crop is grown) are the Kahalu'u variety and are more like a 16-20 oz Hass type avocado, although they tend to be round in shape rather than ovate.  We generally buy from roadside stands or farmer's markets when we are in Kona.  We have a couple small trees in our back yard on Oahu and a kid I grew up with used to have a tree house in a large avocado tree in his back yard.  Love 'em.  In Minnesota, Costco's avocados (Haas) seem to be pretty consistent and I've rarely had a problem with them.

post #20 of 22

That's it Pohaku! 

I haven't a clue what kind of tree we had in our yard, or the neighbors, the Avo's were HUGE!... and so yummy.  If you had too many, you just put them in a cardboard box out in the front of your house with "take one" written on the side and share with everyone who didn't have a tree in their yard.  It was the same with all the fruits in everyone's yard...

EXCEPT for Lychee!  That man three doors down would not share!

post #21 of 22

Yeah, Haas so manini.  We had lychee trees in our yard as well (but so did most of the neighbors).  As kids, we would just go around sampling everybody's crop.

post #22 of 22

To get off topic for just a second…

Last month when we went home to Oahu, I had BUY Lychee


Hawaii May 2012, in Hawaii Lychee at the supermarket, can you believe the price? I bought a pound anyway...


… I couldn’t believe how much they actually got …

I searched for Lychee while in Chinatown, there wasn't a one!

Plenty of mango …

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