I am in love with the simple avocado. You can place it on toast, salads, and everything in between. If it is in a dish, I will love it and have it on a meal plan. And I am not alone. Demand for the green fruit (yup, it is a fruit) is surging, and the cost has gone along.
Prices are surging. This is making an already pricy piece of produce even more expensive. If we pay a premium for the avocado, we want one that tastes great.
The problem is that we cannot tell just what we are getting from the outside. It is impossible to see if it is problem-free. I’ve had more and more encounters with brown avocados, stringy avocados, and avocados that won’t ripen, no matter what method I employ.
So what is a consumer to do? Here are common problems with avocados and what to do about them.
Let’s go to The Chalkboard.
Jump Ahead To
Don’t have time? Here’s The Chalkboard version.
- Stringy avocado you can eat. Push the flesh through a strainer to get rid of the fibers.
- If your avocado is brown in a few spots, you can eat around it. But, if it is entirely spoiled or black, it is no longer edible.
- If your avocado won’t ripen, it is due to being picked too soon.
- Sunburn causes the skin of an avocado to turn red. It should still be safe to eat as long as the flesh is unaffected.
- If the inside of your avocado is red, tannins coming from the pit are likely the cause. You can eat it, although it will probably be bitter.
History Of The Avocado
Even though the Aztecs discovered this ancient Mexican fruit in 500 BC, the avocado has a relatively short history in America. California growers only started in 1915.
While the original name was āhuacatl, which translates to the testicle, the term testicle fruit was not tasty. Farmers tried several different names, including the butter pear and alligator pear. None of them stuck, and they went back to the drawing board, eventually landing on an iteration of the Spanish name, aguacate, and here we are today with the avocado.
The fleshy fruit became popular during the 1970s in America, and growth hasn’t slowed down since. The fruit’s peak time is in February — no Superbowl party is complete without guacamole on the table. Twelve percent of sales are in that month alone.
Benefits Of Avocados
Besides the creamy texture of the avocado, the fruit offers several health benefits. They are the only fruit that contains good monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat. Avocados are excellent folate, potassium, vitamins K, C, and E sources.
They are also full of fiber, lacking in most American diets. A recent study indicates that although most people believe they are consuming enough of the nutrient, only five percent of the population meets the daily requirement of 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. A whole avocado contains 10 grams of fiber.
Types Of Avocados
There are so many varieties of this ancient fruit that it is mind-boggling. The numerous types each offer a distinct taste, size, and texture. A majority of your avocados will be hass, and if they are grown in the U.S., they are likely from California, which produces 90 percent of the crop. You may come across some other varieties, though, so here is a simple outline.
- Bacon — I know what you are thinking; what a great name! This variety has a lighter taste, and its light-brown skin is easy to peel. It is less oily than other types. The pit is big, and it spoils quickly after being cut because the cavity produced from removing it is so large.
- Fuerte— Picture an avocado, and this is likely what comes to mind. Thin-skinned and green, it was initially harvested in California before Hass took over. It is the second most popular variety in the U.S.
- Hass — creamy, pebbly skin that turns purplish-brown when ripe. Most popular in the U.S., Ninety-five percent of all avocados are grown in California. Hass avocados have a creamy buttery flavor. Their skins are heartier than other varieties making them easier to ship, and they grow faster.
- Lula — Most often grown in Florida, they have more water content than hass. Some may think this is undesirable, but along with the higher water comes a lower fat content. It’s easily recognizable by its pear shape and shiny green skin.
- Gwen — A descendant of the hass, this large variety has similar characteristics. The main difference is on the outside. The skin is green and does not change color.
- Zutano — Covered in a light, yellow-green skin that is shiny, it has a mild taste unlike the other, more buttery varieties. It typically grows to around 0.5–1 pound.
- Choquette – This South Florida variety has smooth, glossy skin with watery flesh. When cut, it often leaks.
- Stewart —This small pear-shaped variety looks like an eggplant. It can be stringy and fibrous.
Problems With Avocados (And What To Do About Them)
Avocado Problem — Avocado Won’t Ripen
So you bought an avocado that wasn’t ripe. You put it on the counter and waited and waited for it to become ready to eat, only it never happens. It seems to be an issue more and more these days.
The avocados that won’t ripen were likely picked too soon. Unlike other fruits, avocados are unique in that they mature when they are off the trees. Now you may be thinking, how can they be picked too soon?
The avocados need time on the tree to help develop their fats. If they aren’t given the time to create fats, they won’t ripen and remain inedible, rubbery, and have low flavor. If the oil content is less an 8 percent, it won’t ever ripen.
Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do about this. You can’t tell by the outside of any variety when it was picked.
Avocado Problem — Watery Avocado
You cut into the avocado, and a liquid spills out. Yikes! Probably not what you were expecting. So what do you do?
Are watery avocados safe to eat? Yes!
So why would an avocado be watery? Well, it comes down to two likely reasons. The first is similar to when it won’t ripen. It was picked too soon. The fats weren’t able to develop and left a liquid inside. Even when the avocado is soft to the touch, it can still be watery if it hasn’t ripened on the tree.
Another reason for watery avocados is genetic. Most of us are familiar with the popular hass variety, which has low water content. Other types have high water content. This might make them seem undesirably watery, but it also means they can have up to 50% less fat than other avocados. The Lula, grown in South Florida, has this issue occasionally.
Avocado Problem — Overripe Or Brown Avocado
You cut open the fruit, and the avocado is brown inside. What do you do? If there are a few small spots, it is still safe to eat. The brown spots are likely created by compounds from the flesh combined with oxygen and enzymes.
Brown inside the avocado is safe to eat, although it will taste bitter. Just eat around it.
If most of the flesh is brown or even black, it’s time to toss.
Avocado Problem — Black Spots Inside Avocado
Small black spots inside the avocado are generally caused by the fruit being subjected to cold temperatures before ripening. They aren’t harmful, but you may want to eat around them.
Avocado Problem — Avocado Skin Has Turned Red
Well, it has spent too much time in the sun. No amount of aloe vera will help it, either. Most of the time, the leaves prevent this issue, but this may happen if you leave them out in the sun.
Red Skinned avocados are safe to eat; it is just a cosmetic problem.
Avocado Problem — Red Spots On The Flesh
Tannins comprise the pit. The compound isn’t just found in wine; it is also in the avocados pits. The red color comes from the pit and transfers to the flesh. It is safe to eat, but it may not taste pleasant. You can eat around it.
You can certainly eat it, and it doesn’t affect the taste, just the texture. It is often caused by being stored improperly. The fibers of the fruit cause stringiness. Some varieties are more fibrous than others. Stewart is known to have more threads than others. It still has a great taste, and some years it has the issue more than others. To get rid of the fibers, push the flesh through a strainer. The mash is then great for guacamole, pesto, and dressings.
What Do You Think?
Have you had an avocado problem before? How did you deal with them? If you have any tips or tricks, comment below, I would love to hear! Let me know if you have any tried and true ways to ripen an avocado.
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Avos have been on my top 5 faves list since the 50s or 60s, but like most things aren’t what they used to be primarily because they’re grown as a mono-crop and don’t gain flavour from the surrounding eco-sphere and the fact they are rarely allowed to fully mature before they are plucked from their trees. The same goes for most fruits unless you are fortunate enough to buy from a small farmer at a farmer’s market.
what I was told long ago in California was that there were two [commercial] varieties: Hass and Fuerte, Hass being the creamiest and sweetest in autumn, and Fuerte in spring, less rich, more watery with a smoother, shinier, brighter green skin than the bumpy Hass. It sort of makes sense if you think about; Hass richer, thicker both flesh and skin-wise from the hotter weather, and Fuerte less flavourful from cooler days and more moisture, etc.. Don’t know where I learned that – perhaps the produce man told it to my mother.
When buying, I opt for fruit that still has its little belly button. Once removed the end inside usually goes brown. One with short pieces of stem attached I always think were yanked from the tree before ready. No proof on that, just makes sense to me based on what I know or think about plants. I’m not a botanist nor farmer, just someone who likes growing (and eating) things. Since their seeds are heavier than their flesh a heavy fruit usually has a big stone and less meat. The opposite of an orange or lemon; the heavier it is, the more juice it has.
Some years into the internet era I read that stringy avocadoes were from young trees that hadn’t fully matured yet. That, too, sort of makes sense due to their increasing popularity. One of the sad parts is I watched a short documentary about some place in Mexico where big agro-corporations had bought up huge tracts of hillside lands, planted large orchards and had installed huge pumps, drilling down to the water table – they require lots of water – which literally removed all the water from the stream/river that fed this old woman’s farm. She’d lived much, if not all, of her life on a 25 acres farm. Her main crop had been avocadoes which provided her a basic but sustainable existence. With the new agro-businesses her water source was depleted. All her trees were dying or dead. Most of the time she barely had household water. Farming was over for her and at times she had to import drinking water.
Her story often limits my consumption. Often I will consider buying, change my mind and wish there was a way to know if the avocadoes I’d like to buy are ethically and sustainably grown and are these big farms using phosphates and other chemical fertilizers that are polluting waterways, killing water life etc, etc.
While on my mind I highly recommend “Percy vs Goliath”. It’s a film about the Saskatchewan canola farmer who, like his father, grand-father and great-grand father before him saved the best of his seeds for planting the following year. Wind, birds, etc. had blown seed from neighbouring farms growing Monsanto GMO canola had bred with his pure seed. It’s a very important story that relates globally. (Also neat to see Christopher Walken in a non-comedic role.) Society for lack of better term – really needs to take a closer look and pay more concern as to how we do things, including what and how we eat. Cheers to your next bowl of guacamole – may it be from well matured avocadoes grown by someone that loves and cares for the trees and their surroundings. Love and peace, Wondo
Great points, Wondo. I saw a similar documentary and it was eye-opening. We try to eat California avocados when they are in season.