A guest blog from our friends at Frunzi Farms about those little green wonders known as Avocados:
There are close to 500 avocado varieties. Can you believe it!? Before we moved to this boutique farm (now known as Frunzi Farms), I never cared for the taste of an avocado. The primary cultivar which one finds in the grocery store are, of course, Hass. Blackened when ripe, hard skinned with a pebbly surface, the Hass avocado – to me – seemed to take on the flavor of whatever you put it in — mostly guacamole. It was like green butter — without the “Mmmm” but all the calories. When I moved to Southern California, I succeeded in becoming a certified Master Gardener, and learned [probably] FAR too much about plants — and, no surprise, Avocados! That’s when I learned that there is life after Hass.
Frunzi Farms has several varieties: Mexicola (above) – which are round and black and shiny, like squash balls or glossy racquet balls, with a yellow-green flesh that tastes like nuts! Zutano – one of the first varieties harvested when the season begins (around January, here), and the skin remains green when it’s ripe. Fuerte - you can peel the thin green skin to eat the creamy flesh fruit. And my all-time favorite on the Farm: Bacon. These are buttery, and large, with a shape like an egg. And no, they don’t taste like bacon. :-)
Avocados ripen *off* the tree — unlike citrus, which becomes sweeter the longer it’s on the tree. But you need to pick avos when they are just right — to ensure the highest oil content to be flavorful, but not too far along. (If the avos are left on the tree too long, the seeds start sprouting WITHIN the fruit on the branches! Totally crazy.)
But by far the coolest thing about avocados is the avocado flower: It has both male *and* female organs. These flowers are so unique in this way, there is no other known plant flower like it. What this means is that flowers on a tree will open for a few hours per day, as a female flower — and the next day, the SAME tree with the SAME flowers, will re-open as a male flower. In other words, every avocados flower is female at its first opening, and male at its second opening.
But none of our avocados would be possible without recognizing the honey bee — without which pollination of these remarkable flowers would not be possible. (And did you know that all honey bees that you see, out-and-about buzzing around, are female? That figures. Ha!)