Avocados add creaminess and flavor to salads, soups, tacos, other dishes
Learn how to select a perfect avocado, and also learn a bit of history surrounding this special food.
You have probably noticed that when you see avocados in the produce department they are sometimes labeled as Haas Avocadoes. Notice we spell it HASS, not HAAS. Hass is correct – and it rhymes with ‘pass’.
The Hass Avocado was developed by a mail carrier from California by the name of Rudolph Hass, and was patented in 1935. All Hass avocados have been propagated from a single “Mother Tree”. The varieties of avocados which produced this Hass avocado are uncertain, but it was a huge success. Now, according to Wikipedia, 80 percent of all cultivated avocados produced in the world are of the Hass Variety. The “Mother Tree” developed root rot and was cut down in September, 2002. The main producer of avocados imported into the United States is Mexico, with upwards of 80 percent of imports.
How do you tell if an avocado is ripe?
There are several theories on how to select the perfect avocado – color, stem color, and softness.
Let’s look at color first. Generally, unripe avocados are bright green – riper ones turn dark. I had an uncle who grew them, and he explained it this way – that the little light colored specs on an avocado skin contain oil. As the avocado ripens the dots of oil break open, releasing the oil that darkens the skin. This suggests that a great avocado will be a darker green color than a unripe one. A completely dark – almost purple-black avocado, will probably be too ripe.
Next is the stem method. Some people claim that by picking the little ‘button’ where the avocado stem was can tell you if it is ripe. If the flesh revealed under the button is green – it is supposed to be ripe – this seems to be an untrustworthy method.
The third method of finding the best avocado is by feel. Experts say that the best way to tell a ripe avocado is to place it in the palm of your hand and squeeze it gently, between your four fingers and the palm of your hand. Do not squeeze it with individual fingers or your thumb because it will bruise the avocado. Unripe avocados are rock hard. Overripe avocados are soft, often with uneven skin. A ripe avocado will feel slightly soft when squeezed. I think this is the best method to use – look for one that ‘gives’ just slightly when gently squeezed.