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Seasonal Eats: Culitvar-Hopping for Year-Round Avocado Eating!

Bacon, Fuerte, Pinkerton and Zutano Avocados (Heather Parlato/LAist)
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I got to talking with one of the avocado sellers at the farmer's market, and since i was impressed with the variety she sells, I asked about seasonality of avocados. I always knew different cultivars matured at different times of year, but wasn't sure which. The seller set me straight, while Haas may be harvested year-round depending on the climate, it's typically a springtime avocado in California—but don't despair, you can strategize seasonally and still enjoy local avocados most of the year. The winter cultivars for the southland include Bacon, Fuerte, Pinkerton and Zutano, each with slightly different characteristics, but all are delicious varieties to enjoy in winter and early spring before haas take over.

While there are many subtropical species that don't tolerate a frost, cultivars have sprung up in each growing region, and these winter varieties have come to tolerate temps in the mid-20s, as in the cases of Bacon and Fuerte. Cultivars are propagated by grafting onto hardy rootstocks, but it seems kids everywhere have had some experience sticking the pits with toothpicks, setting in a cup of water and eagerly waiting for them to sprout. Just note, doing this with your favorite variety won't grow a tree of the same species. Some notes about keeping avocado trees, they depend on cross-pollination, so if you have room to plant a tree, make a pact with a neighbor and plant a pair so you both get fruit. Also, the leaves, bark, skin and pit have been documented to be dangerous to some animals if consumed, so it may be best to fence off the tree and be sure to pick up fallen fruit.

Obligatory Wikipedia Fun Facts: Hilariously, the word 'avocado' comes from the Nahuatl word ahuacatl (testicle, a reference to the shape of the fruit), and was known as a fertility fruit by the Aztecs. The Nahuatl ahuacatl can be compounded with other words, as in ahuacamolli, meaning avocado soup or sauce, from which the Mexican Spanish word guacamole derives. Our own Fallbrook, California claims to be the avocado capital of the world, home of the Zutano cultivar. Avocados are high in fat, but it's monounsaturated fat, which makes it a good fat to eat, and beneficial to blood serum cholesterol. Avocados are a good source of both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber, they contain 60% more potassium than bananas, and are rich in Vitamin B, Vitamin E and Vitamin K. They're also highly anti-inflammatory with antibacterial components, so eat up!