In the months from May to August , California produces 90 percent of the nation’s avocados. Roughly 60 percent of those come from San Diego County, the undisputed avocado capital of the United States. California avocados are hand grown on more than 6,000 small family farms throughout Central and Southern California. These growers, and their passion and dedication to sustainable agriculture, truly make California avocados a premium fruit. There are 8 varieties of commercially grown avocados in California, but the Hass represents 95 percent of the total crop volume. The other varieties are the Bacon, Fuerte, Gwen, Lamb Hass, Pinkerton, Reed, and Zutano.
Here are a few helpful hints for working with this silky and luscious fruit.
• When selecting avocados, the first thing to remember is that the prettiest skin color doesn’t necessarily mean the best fruit. Hass avocados turn almost black as they ripen, while other varieties remain a bright green. Once you’ve spotted a possible candidate, gently squeeze the fruit in the palm of your hand. The fruit should be firm, but should yield a little softness. If you get some avocados that need ripening assistance, place them in a brown paper bag with an orange, apple, or a banana for a couple of days. Make sure to check the bag each day, so the avocados don’t get overripe.
• Before cutting an avocado, first wash the outside thoroughly and place it on a clean work surface. Then make a horizontal slice to the seed, rotate the avocado around the blade of the knife, and then twist the avocado to separate the halves. Remove the seed by sliding the tip of a spoon gently underneath and lifting it out. Scoop out the pulp and either slice, dice, mash, or reserve. Make sure to sprinkle some lime or lemon juice on the outside surface of the pulp so it doesn’t oxidize and turn black. If you’re mashing the avocado into guacamole, cover the entire top of the guacamole directly with plastic wrap, pushing out all of the air. Avocados are amazingly versatile and can be easily frozen — they’re great for salsas, soups, sandwiches, or in sorbet.