California Avocados — Packing and Ready for Retail

by Dorothy Reinhold on March 9, 2013

Print This Post Print This Post California Avocados on Shockingly Delicious

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.

Avocado bins at Mission Packing on Shockingly DeliciousWe 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.

Avocados on the line at Mission Packing on Shockingly DeliciousAs they move through the packing process, which takes 1 or 2 days, they are washed and waxed…

Avocados being washed and waxed at Mission Packing on Shockingly Delicious…sorted by machine…

Avocados on the processing line at Mission Produce on Shockingly Delicious…culled by hand for rejects…

Avocados culled on the line at Mission Produce on Shockingly Delicious…sized on a lightning fast machine…

Avocados on the sizing machine at Mission Produce on Shockingly Delicious…stickers applied…

Stickers applied to avocados at Mission Packing on Shockingly Delicious…packed in boxes…

Avocados packed in boxes at Mission Produce on Shockingly Delicious… 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.

Avocados in ripening room at Mission Produce on Shockingly DeliciousDaniel 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.

Avocado ripening at Mission ProduceYears 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!

Packing line panorama at Mission Produce on Shockingly DeliciousThanks to the California Avocado Commission for arranging for this tour, and to Mission Produce for guiding us through the process. 

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

kirsten@FarmFreshFeasts March 9, 2013 at 2:15 pm

One of my 2013 goals is to have more avocados in my life, and I appreciated learning more about the process.

Thanks, Dorothy!


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: