When we last left off, we were touring a California avocado farm, reveling in the green goodness and the idea of following that lovely fruit from the grove to the grocery store to the guacamole bowl.
We followed the avocado trail from Dan and Sue Pinkerton’s farm in Santa Paula back to Mission Produce in Oxnard, an avocado packing plant where the 900-pound bins of avocados come in straight from the fields, are run through an immediate icy bath to cool them down, and then into a cooling room.
… and either shipped as “hard” or put through the ripening process. A portion is selected to go to “ripening” rooms, where they held at exactly 70 degrees and surrounded with ethylene gas, which hastens their ripening.
Daniel Rodriguez is responsible for the ripening rooms, and he takes it very seriously. Nearly guac-ready avocados are the goal, and he is going to time it correctly so you can buy avocados in various stages of ripeness at retail stores. Here he shows off his Easy-Ripe ethylene dispenser.
Years ago, all avocados were sold rock-hard at retail. Remember those days, when you would need to plan 2 weeks out if you wanted to have guacamole? No more. With ripening at the packing house, Mission can supply retailers with nearly ripe avocados, which allows you to buy more easily on a Wednesday for your weekend guacamole making, for example. This has enabled them to increase avocado consumption considerably over the years, by making it easy for home consumers to buy ripe avocados for immediate use.
So how many avocados do we eat in this country? Try 1.6 million pounds, with some 515 million pounds of them coming from California. That’s a lotta green!
Thanks to the California Avocado Commission for arranging for this tour, and to Mission Produce for guiding us through the process.