Forkways #22: Avocados

Today I started wondering, are there different types of avocados? There must be! The different names and varieties of single ingredients has been challenging when I try to study food. I have been working on building a food database on the origin of food items and any folklore that might be connected with it. But food is so much more transmutable than we give it credit for. Of course, we know these transmutations happen, that is part of the appeal!

The simple answer is YES! There are different kinds of avocados. Once I read an interview with a woman who was a turnip expert. I just though that was the coolest thing ever. Should I become and expert on avocados?

A cursory Google search provided me with a fascinating glimpse into avocado identification.
"There are hundreds of types of avocados, but seven avocado varieties are grown commercially in California. The Hass variety accounts for approximately 95 percent of the total crop each year"

Visible variations in pit shape and side and also shape of avocado definitely vary from one variety to another. Also there is some color variation in the flesh, especially the amount of green ringing around the skin. Do you like avocados? Do you know the type you like best? I like ones that are ready to eat and not too hard. Perhaps I should be more discerning about my avocados than I am, but I figure with enough salt any of these will do. Now that I know there are more varieties, I am curious to find out which ones will be available in my grocery store. Is there a broad or narrow selection?

One of the challenges of food research is tying the name of a fruit or vegetable variety with a timeframe or origin point. Many names are tied to a company specifically and they can have different levels of correct information online.

Let's see what I can find.

Reed: The texture is buttery, and the flavor is bold, rich and nutty. Reed avocados are named after James S. Reed, a farmer who found the chance seedling on his ranch in Carlsbad, California in 1948. He patented the variety in 1960. Known For: round shape, medium seed, easy peeling, and good taste.

Pinkerton: Pinkerton avocados have an elongated pear shape with green, slightly pebbled, medium thick, and easy-to-peel skin. Pinkerton avocados were first grown on the Pinkerton Ranch in Saticoy California around 1970, owned by brothers Wesley and John Pinkerton. Prior to that, around 1956, story tells that Wesley grew rincon avocado seedlings of unknown pollen parents, and dumped surplus seedlings into a wash to help control erosion. A year or two later, the ranch foreman, Mr. Holloway, noticed that one of the discarded seedlings had emerged from the surplus pile with surprising vitality.  It was patented in USA in 1975.


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