You’ve mashed them on toast. You’ve blended them in smoothies. You’ve maybe even mixed them with some cacao and passed them off as chocolate mousse.
But did you know there are nearly as many different types of avocado as there are ways to eat avocado?
When Spanish explorers first ventured into the Americas, they were looking for El Dorado – the fabled city made of gold. What they found instead were these kinda lumpy, leathery, dark-greenish black things that fell out of the trees.
But they recognized their value nonetheless.
Avocados had already been one of the most popular dietary staples in South and Central America by the time the conquistadors landed, and today, they’re far and away one of the most popular fruits on earth.
The bastions of mild, creamy green goodness just seem to be universally loved, quickly gaining followers in Indonesia and Europe, where they were carried by the Spanish explorers, and enjoying a similar instant popularity after being introduced to Israel and the United States.
Today, the fruit is nearly synonymous with Southern California, where 90% of America’s avocados are grown, and Mexico steps in to handle much of the rest of the global crop yield.
Still, despite their immense popularity, there’s a relatively small number of avocado varieties out there.
Below, we cut open and de-seed a few of the most popular types of avocado.
Most Popular Types of Avocado
You’ve seen them splashed across every social media site. But not every avocado is created equal:
- Hass: Perhaps the quintessential avocado cultivar, the Hass varietal is by far the world’s most popular, making up for nearly 80% of avocados on the global market. Its classic fatty flesh, distinctive nutty flavor, and hardy skin (Great for shipping!) make it an optimal avocado choice, while it can also be distinguished by its small, spherical shape and blackish-green skin. Fun Fact: Every Hass avocado tree is descended from one “mother tree,” originally planted in La Habra Heights, California by a mail carrier named Rudolph Hass. (Just call him the patron avocado saint.)
- Choquette: A Florida-bred varietal, this type of avocado is noted for its especially large size, clocking in at around 2 pounds per fruit. Still, much of that weight can be attributed to water retention, with the fruit known to “bleed out” green juice upon being cut. Otherwise, Choquettes can be recognized by their deep green skin and their yellow-ish, mild tasting flesh.
- Reed: Another classic in the produce aisle, this avocado variety got its start in California but today is mostly grown in Guatemala. Rounder than most other cultivars, Reed avocados usually mimic the size and weight of a softball, with a nuttier-leaning flesh inside. But beware, the outside of this thick-skinned variety tends to stay green as it ripens, making it even more difficult to pinpoint that notoriously tiny ripe avocado window.
- Lula: A descendant of a Florida farm, this eponymous varietal – named for the wife of its original developer – yields a medium-sized fruit that’s typically pear-shaped and on the milder/sweeter side of the flavor spectrum. Lula avocados also pack a decent oil content, making them especially good for mixing into sauces and dips.
- Monroe: If anyone could give the Choquette a run for its money, it’s the Monroe. This type of avocado regularly clocks in at over 2 pounds, rocking a brighter green skin that’s tough enough to let the fruit grow in colder climates than most of its cousins. Thanks to its mild flavor and hardy character, it was one of the first major commercial cultivars.
- Bacon: No, not that kind of bacon. Named for the man who developed them, California farmer James Bacon, this distinctly non-pig product sports a deep green skin, a light green flesh, and a less-than-optimal seed-to-fruit ratio. You’ll know it’s ripe when you can give it a soft squeeze.
- Zutano: Okay, let’s start to get weird. This variety typically comes in a lighter shade of yellow-green, with an equally-buttery, but distinctively-more-mild taste than most of its cultivar cousins.
- Malmua: On that note, the Malmua is another unique type of avocado, not even discovered until the 1990s – and even then, in the non-traditional avocado home of South Africa. This avocado cultivar really likes its outsider status, growing more slowly than most and sporting an unusual dark-purple skin.
- Ettinger: An Israeli-based varietal, Ettinger avocados were first put into production in 1947. Their fruit has a thin green skin and their flesh is an even paler shade of green.
- Fuerte: Named in Spanish after their namesake characteristic—strong—these particularly hardy types of avocados got their start in Mexico, then gained their moniker after surviving a particularly hard frost. They’re also one of the most easily recognizable types of avocado on the market, grown widely in both California and Mexico, and sport a green-and-black speckled skin, a medium size, a pear shape, and creamy, mild flesh with a particularly high oil content.
So now you know: avocados are more than a pretty face on Instagram. Behind their noted influencer lifestyle is a whole world of history and taste.