Here’s a pop quiz for all you avocado enthusiasts. What’s the name of the avocado that has leathery purple-black skin when ripe? The answer’s hidden somewhere in this article. Tell us when you find it.
There are hundreds of varieties of avocados, but only a few are cultivated in the United States, either in California or in Florida. Increasingly recognized as a super fruit, avocado is now cultivated all over the world. China, which had no avocado production in 1991, produced 45,000 tons in 1996. Presently, Mexico is the world leader in avocado production.1
What Makes Avocado Special?
- Much of avocado’s goodness comes from oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid, which not only helps reduce blood pressure and burn fat but is also beneficial for your skin and hair.
- It is also rich in vitamins A (beta-carotene), C, and E, containing more vitamin A than peach, 3 times as much as orange, and 7 to 30 times more than apple, banana, grapes, and pears. These vitamins make this fruit a good choice for your health, especially the heart.
- The pectin that avocado contains is almost 4 times that in apple, and it is a delicious way to protect your heart.2
Types Of Avocados And How They Differ
|Avocado Type||Shape||Size And Weight||Skin And Color|
|Hass||Pear to ovoid||Small to medium sized
|Tough and leathery skin. Dark purple or nearly black when ripe|
|Fuerte||Pear||Small to medium
|Slightly rough to rough skin. Plenty of small yellow dots on the skin, with the flesh green near the skin|
|Lamb Hass||Pear, with a flat top or flat shoulder||Large
|Finely pebbled and slightly less rough and thicker than Hass skin. Unripe fruit is green, while the ripe one becomes black|
|Wurtz||Pear||Small to medium
|Thin and shiny skin with small seeds. Dark green when ripe.|
|Bacon||Pear to oval||Medium
|Smooth and shiny. Light/thin green skin.|
|Pinkerton||Roundish to pear||Medium
|Somewhat leathery and pliable skin|
|Sharwil||Similar to Fuerte but a little more oval||Medium
|Rough but fairly thin skin. Green to dark green when ripened|
Hass avocados have a good flavor with 18–22 percent oil, sometimes up to 35 percent in the varieties from New Zealand. This cultivar accounts for 75 percent of the production in California.
Fuerte avocado is of a rich flavor, with 12–17 percent oil. Initially, it was very popular in California and accounted for 61 percent of all the avocados shipped. It has also long ruled the European avocado market. But now, it is second to Hass.
Lamb Hass has a good-quality flesh, which is even better than Hass in the “late” season. It matures in the later part of the year, and the mature fruit remains on the tree for a longer time. Therefore production can be done throughout the year.
The Wurtz avocado tastes good, with an oil content of 16 percent. The fruit doesn’t ripen completely while on the tree. It needs to be harvested when it’s mature and it will ripen within a week at room temperature.
When ripe, Bacon avocados are easily breakable from the tree upon applying gentle pressure. They are uniquely flavored and mostly used in salads.
The Pinkerton avocados have a good flavor too and are high in oil but inferior to Hass and Fuerte. The Sharwil avocados have a 15–26 percent oil content and are very popular in Hawaii.
The Different Types According To Region Of Origin
Horticulturally, avocados are classified into three categories, based on the regions of their origin.3
West Indian (Persea americana Mill. var. americana)
These avocados have thin to moderately thick skins and are better suited to warmer climates. Florida avocados were initially of the West Indian race, but a stiff competition from the Cuban race led to the development of West Indian X Guatemalan hybrids. Some of the prominent varieties of these avocados are Butler, Fuchs, Maoz, Pollock, Ruchle, Russell, Simmonds, Trapp, and Waldin.
Guatemalan (P. nubigena var. guatemalensis L. Wms)
These avocados have a skin that varies from thin to very thick and is gritty or granular. Some of the prominent early Florida and California cultivars (varieties that are produced by selective breeding) are Anaheim, Benik, Dickinson, Edranol, Hazzard, Itzamna, Linda, Lyon, Mcarthur, Nabal, Nimlioh, Panchoy, Pinkerton, Reed, Schmidt, Sharpless, Solano, Spinks, Taft, Taylor, Tonnage, Wagner, and Wurtz.
Mexican (P. americana Mill. var. drymifolia Blake)
These varieties are small, thin-skinned, and rich in flavor and have an oil content of up to 30 percent. The leaves smell like anise. Usually found 500 ft. above sea level, they are also the most cold-resistant. Mostly cultivated in Mexico, this race includes Duke, Ganter, Gottfried, Mexicola, Northrop, Puebla, and Zutano avocados.
The classification doesn’t end here; there are hybrids of Guatemalan with West Indian and Mexican avocados, which are actually more preferred and grown on a commercial scale.
Guatemalan X West Indian Hybrids
Pure Guatemalan avocados were not well adapted in Florida, which gave rise to Guatemalan X West Indian hybrids. These hybrids have become the major cultivars grown in the state of Florida today. Some of the prominent hybrids are Bonita, Booth1, Booth7, Booth8, Chequette, Collinson, Fuchs-20, Grande, Hall, Herman, Hickson, Simpson, and Winslowson.
Guatemalan X Mexican Hybrids
These hybrids, grown in California, include Bacon, Fuerte, Hass, Hayes, Lula, Rincon, Ryan, Sharwil, and Susan. Few of these are grown on a commercial scale throughout the world.4
Which Is The Best?
With so many variants available in the market, it’s difficult to choose the best, especially when each has its own merits. But considering certain factors like nutritional value, oil percentage, taste, growth, and availability, Hass is considered supreme, followed by Fuerte.
|↑1||Galindo-Tovar, María Elena, Amaury M. Arzate-Fernández, Nisao Ogata-Aguilar, and Ivonne Landero-Torres. “The avocado (Persea americana, Lauraceae) crop in Mesoamerica: 10,000 years of history.” Harvard Papers in Botany 12, no. 2 (2007): 325-334.|
|↑2||Bergh, B. O. “The Avocado and Human Nutrition. II. Avocados and Your Heart.” In Proc. of Second World Avocado Congress, pp. 37-47. 1992.|
|↑3||Chia, C. L. et. al. and Yokoyama, K. M., et. al. General Crop Information|
|↑4||Morton, Julia Frances. Fruits of warm climates. JF Morton, 1987: 91–102|
|↑5||Chia, C. L. et. al. and Yokoyama, K. M., et. al.GENERAL CROP INFORMATION|
|↑6||Witney, Guy, and Gray Martin. “Taking the California avocado breeding program into the next century.” In Proceedings of The World Avocado Congress III, vol. 114, p. 118. 1995.|
|↑7||Avocado, growing UCCE Master Gardeners of Orange County.|