Avocado FAQs

Q: Can avocados be frozen?

A: Yes, pureed Avocados freeze very well and can be used in salads, sandwiches and dips.

Q: What does the number on the Hass avocado sticker in the store mean?

A: The PLU (Price Look Up) sticker you reference should contain a number, usually 4 digits, or for organic products, 5 digits starting with a 9. The common PLU numbers for the Hass avocado variety are: 4046, 4225 and 4770, depending on the fruit's size. Organic Hass avocado PLU numbers are 94046, 94225 and 94770. The PLU sticker also may contain the source of origin, such as California, Mexico, Chile, Dominican Republic or New Zealand. Some include the shipper's company or label name.

Q: What is the difference between Hass and other avocado varieties?

A: Each variety has its own characteristics. For example, Hass are known as the "year-round avocado" because of their availability. Their being grown in California, Chile, Mexico, New Zealand and the Dominican Republic assures a ready supply 365 days a year. Hass avocados, the most-consumed variety in the U.S., are oval shaped and host a small- to medium-sized seed. They range in weight from 5 to 12 ounces and boast a creamy texture and great taste. They also have a distinctive skin that may turn from dark green to purplish-black when ripe.

You may learn more about avocado varieties at the University of California at Riverside's Avocado Information website.

Q: Where can I buy Hass avocados?

A: You can buy Hass avocados right here on our website (they make excellent gifts!). Otherwise, they're available at local retailers. Look for the PLU sticker numbers: 4770, 4225 and 4046.

Q: How do I know when my Hass avocado is ready to eat?

A: Avocados do not "ripen" or "soften" on the tree; they only ripen after they've been harvested, or removed from the tree. Depending on the time of year, green fruit can take anywhere from 7 to 10 days to ripen when stored at room temperature. However, you can speed up the ripening process. To check for ripeness, gently squeeze the fruit in your palm (avoid using your fingertips). When it yields to gentle pressure, it is ready to enjoy.

Q: Why does my Hass avocado and/or guacamole turn brown? Does it help to leave in the pit?

A: Oxidation, which occurs due to air exposure, can cause the fruit of an avocado and/or guacamole to turn brown on the surface. To delay this process, brush it with an acidic agent such as lemon, lime and even orange juice or vinegar, then place it in an air-tight container, cover it with clear plastic wrap and keep it refrigerated until you eat it.

Placing the avocado seed in the guacamole may help maintain the dip's original color because the seed reduces the amount of surface area that's exposed to air, thereby minimizing oxidization.

Q: What are the brown or black streaks the flesh of an avocado sometimes contains?

A: The "streaks" you describe occur rarely and generally in fruit from young trees. Though the fibers may be unsightly, the surrounding fruit is safe for you to eat.

Q: What do brown or black spots on the flesh of an avocado mean?

A: Flesh discoloration occurs when an avocado's been exposed to cold temperatures for a long period before beginning to ripen. Flesh bruising can happen when avocados are moved or handled excessively. Unfortunately, it's impossible to detect either condition without opening the avocado. These spots, however, aren't harmful, and you can simply cut them out.

Q: How do I know if my Hass avocado is too ripe to eat?

A: We don't recommend eating "browned" or oxidized portions of the fruit. Over-ripe fruit can take on a rancid odor, so it's best not to eat it. If the avocado's fruit or guacamole has oxidized (turned brown) on the surface but is green underneath, simply discard that brown layer.

Q: Why do you spell it "Hass?" I thought it was "Haas."

A: It is spelled Hass and its pronunciation rhymes with "pass." Postman Rudolph Hass planted this seedling in his front yard and called the varietal "Hass" after his family name. He patented it in 1935 and died 17 years later, never realizing how significant the variety would become to the global avocado industry.

Q: When was the Hass avocado variety patented?

A: The Hass avocado variety was patented on August 27, 1935 (U.S. Plant Patent No. 139).

Q: What are the total carbohydrates and calories in an avocado?

A: One serving, or 1 ounce of an avocado, contains 3 grams of carbohydrates (1% of the daily value) and 50 calories (35 from fat).

Q: Why does my avocado contain brown strings?

A: Fruit from younger trees generally tends to have strings, but these they often disappear or fade as the avocado matures. Reduced oil content in avocados also is tied to stringiness. Mid- to late-season California avocados have a high oil content, which results in fruit with little to no stringiness.

Q: How many varieties of avocados exist?

A: While only a small number of commercial varieties is being grown for sale today—primarily Hass along with Lamb Hass, Fuerte, Bacon, Pinkerton, Gwen, Reed and Zutano—thousands exist in the wild and in backyards.

Q: I have an avocado tree. How do I know when the avocados are ready for picking?

A: If you have a Hass avocado tree, the maturing fruit will have an acceptable oil content regardless of their size by about mid-January. Any time after that, you may harvest and eat your avocados.

Throughout the year, your avocados will increase in size and oil content, slowly readying until their skin begins to darken. When they're about half black, they may soon fall off the tree, so at that point, you better pick them quickly.

Q: What are "cocktail" or "finger" avocados?

A: Often called "cukes" (as in cucumbers) by workers in the avocado industry, these small, pickle-shaped avocados are the result of flowers that didn't pollinate properly. These fruit often fall from the tree on their own, but if they hang on long enough, you can pick and eat them. Avocado growers occasionally harvest and market these fruits as cocktail or finger avocados.

Q: What areas of California are most hospitable for growing avocados?

A: Counties in the southern part of the state—San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, Western San Bernadino, Ventura, Santa Barbara and parts of San Luis Obispo and Santa Cruz—are home to numerous successful avocado groves because they offer ideal climate and soil for growing avocados. Outside of Southern California, few avocado groves prosper due to cold weather.

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