Most grocery stores tend to sell avocados green. This led to what I found to be a curious bit of advice in a cooking tips article I was reading: Buy your avocados in a Mexican grocery store because they sell them ripe.
The reason I found this advice curious is that it didn’t mention the quality, or even the variety of avocado, just that it was sold already ripe. If you search through the avocado bin (usually Hass variety) at your grocery store, you’ll probably find soma ripe avocados in there.
Avocados are climacteric, which means they ripen after picking. So, the question is, is there a difference between those ripe avocados sold at Mexican grocery stores and ones that are allowed to ripen after picking? NO!
Here is what the author of the tip article probably didn’t realize. Avocadoes do not ripen on the tree. Weird, huh? This is convenient for growers though. It means the fruits can literally be “stored” on the tree for a few months before picking. So, the only possible difference between the avocados sold at Mexican grocery stores, in terms of ripeness, would be that they allowed them to ripen before displaying them. In other words, no difference at all. If you buy some green avocados, bring them home, and allow them to sit a couple of days, they will ripen up just fine.
The only practical reason for buying your avocados at a Mexican grocery store, then, is that you may be able to find a specific variety of avocado. 95% of the avocados sold in the United States are the Hass variety, almost all from California. And, before you go thinking that an imported avocado would be better, think again. The weather and soil conditions in California make for great avocados.
Avocado Varieties Beside Hass
While it is true that the Hass monopoly has a lot to do with economics (they have a long growing season and ship well), these really are one of the creamiest and tastiest varieties. As well, their bumpy green skin tends to darken as they ripen, which is a convenient indicator, along with a slight give to the flesh when you press them.
While there are many other varieties of avocados, and there are at least one or two with noticeably more flavor, the idea that you are missing out on a lot of avocado goodness because you only buy the Hass variety is a bit of foodie idea. The truth is that while the size, shape, skin texture, and fat content can vary somewhat, there is usually not a vast difference in flavor. Some varieties have less flavor than the Hass. If you are looking for an example of an even more flavor-packed variety, try the Pinkerton. But, most varieties have very short growing seasons and will only be available for short periods during the year. Trust me, though, your life will not significantly change because you seek out a distant farmer’s market for an unfamiliar avocado. Anytime a food item becomes extremely popular in America, as the avocado has, it tends to become fetishized and subject to a lot of over-wrought passion. If all you ever do is buy a couple of avocados at the supermarket and put them in a bowl ripen on the counter, I think you’ll survive.