When I was a kid, coming home from school would involve a quick snack right before we started on homework. More often than not, it would be a palta (Spanish for Avocado)with a sprinkle of salt, with a spoon. My abuelita and I would sit and split one avocado, savoring each spoonful of goodness one by one. It started my love affair with the California Avocado.
Early last month, I had a chance to attend a California Avocado grove tour and brunch with the CA Avocado Commission. I was so thrilled to get a chance to see first hand how one of my favorite fruits (1 seed= fruit!) grow and make it from the field to my plate. We headed to Oxnard, CA to spend the day at the Pinkerton Ranch and meet with Dan Pinkerton, one of the California Avocado farmers. Did you know that in California there are over 58,000 acres of avocados from the Bay to San Diego, and CA avocados account for 90% of the avocados eaten in this country? My mind was blown. Although I probably eat 50% of that myself…so ya know, it’s good that they produce that much!
Our first stop was met with a delicious brunch at the home . This year, the CA Avocado Commission is promoting their “Wake Up To Breakfast with California Avocados,” so it was appropriate that we enjoyed many breakfast foods…with a twist. My favorite was a brunch variation of ceviche. YUM.
We were there about a week before the first harvest took place and got a chance to head to the Avocado Tree Grove to see how an avocado grows. We walked right into the field and immediately were pointed out what I like to call, “baby” avocados. That’s avocados when they are just tiny nubs on the tree.
Then we saw avocados that were ready for harvesting. We were given some tools to try to pick some avocados ourselves. I fit right in!
Avocados are picked by hand, one by one and then put into a 900 lb plastic bin and whisked off by truck to a packing house, which we got to tour also. Pinkerton farm’s Avocados are packed by Mission Produce in Oxnard. Here they are cooled, washed, coated with a thin layer of wax, sorted by machine and then rejects are hand picked.
They are then run through another machine to be sized, stickered and packed into respective boxes depending on their destinations.
Sometimes they get sent to a ripening room before being shipped. The goal is always to have to nearly ripe avocados so that you can make your own fresh guacamole that day. (Tip: when you need to hurry the ripening process for an avocado at home, place in a brown paper bag with a banana. The ethylene speeds up the process!)
At the end of the day, I was even more in love with California Avocados than I was when I got there. Being sent home with a bag load of them, my mind was racing with ideas on how to use them (and I of course, made some Avocado Fries again, yum!). The Pinkerton Family and the VP of of marketing for the California Avocado Commission, Jan DeLyser, were the most informative and gracious hosts and I am a California Avocado girl for life….you should be too.
Disclosure: I attended a media tour and brunch for the purposes of this post. No compensation was received. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. All photographs are property of Yolanda Machado and may not be re-used, re-posted or re-purposed without express written permission, any violation will be persued to the full extent of the law.