How To Identify Hass Avocados

by Avocado Buddy
how to identify hass avocados

Today we will look at how to identify Hass avocados. Avocados are being cultivated at least from the 5th century BC. The first avocado trees were grown in Central America and Mexico. With time the fruit made its way north all the way to California. Subsequently, some varieties were exported to the rest of the world. Most to the Caribbean and Florida. With so much history and different areas of growth, many varieties have developed.

The most common varieties are Bacon, Fuerte, Gwen, Hass, Pinkerton, Reed and Zutano (you can learn all the different varieties here). All of them have distinguishing qualities. The characteristics one can look at for when picking out avocados are skin, taste, consistency, and shape. While all avocados have light to dark green flesh, their skin varies both in color and texture. The color varies from green to almost black, with a purple tinge. Some have completely smooth skin, while others have bumpy skin.

Today we will show you how to identify the Hass variety in particular. So, take out your pen and paper, and let’s see what makes the Hass a Hass.

Hass History

how to identify hass avocados - hass history
Photo by Reuben Wingfield 

The Hass avocado was grown recently for the first time. Before the 1920s this variety didn’t exist. The person who grew the first Hass tree was a US postman in California, Rudolph Hass. He bought seeds from A. R. Rideout of Whittier, California in 1926. He planted the seed at his 1.5-acre grove at 430 West Road, La Habra Heights, California. Once the tree grew, he attempted to graft branches of the Fuerte variety on it.

The Fuerte variety at that time was dominating the market. The Fuerte variety is characterized by green, smooth skin, a medium-sized, teardrop-shaped seed, and pear-like shape. Its size varies from medium to large, from about 5 to 14 ounces in weight.

When the graft didn’t take, Mr. Hass intended to cut the tree down. Friends and family dissuaded him from it. After all, the decision to leave the three was the right one. When his wife and children tasted the first fruits from it, they knew it would be a great success. The fruits didn’t look as appealing as the Fuerte variety. Their skin was dark and pebbly. And its shape was more oblong or oval than pear-shaped. Although it had a much stronger buttery taste, it was a lot creamier and had a distinct nutty taste to it.

The Hass variety was born then and there. Mr. Hass patented his variety in 1936. This was the first case for a fruit or tree variety to be patented. The tree was easy enough to sell. It had much bigger yields than the other varieties, could be harvested almost year-round, and the fruit had a longer shelf life. Hass struck a deal with Whittier nurseryman Harold Brokaw to grow and sell grafted seedlings. Brokaw would grow and sell the trees, with 25% of the profit going to Hass. Brokaw specialized in the new variety, recognizing its potential.

The variety was successful. Today it makes up 80% of avocado consumption around the world, and 95% in the United States. Unfortunately, Hass and Brokaw earned relatively little from the patent. Hass got approximately 5,000$ from the patent throughout his life. The reason was that patenting a tree was a legal first, and the patent wasn’t effectively enforced.

Identifying a Hass

how to identify hass avocados - identifying a hass
Photo by Abigail Lynn 

Now we can turn to the heart of the matter – how to identify a Hass avocado. The easiest way to know for sure that an avocado is a Hass avocado is to taste it. As mentioned before, the Hass avocado has a much richer, creamy or buttery taste with distinct nutty notes to it. The reason for this is that it has the highest fat content. Now, before you give up the Hass avocado because of that, all that fat is made of fatty monounsaturated acids. Those are the “healthy variety” of fats. So, no worries about it.

Yet, since you can’t go around markets and peal avocados to have a taste, you have to look at the outside. The most obvious thing is the skin. It will be dark, sometimes purplish when ripe. It will have a pebbled texture. You can also look at its shape, which will be more oval than pear-shaped.

If at first glance you aren’t sure, you can pick it up and give it a light squeeze. Put the avocado between your palms, to not bruise the skin. Gently press down on it. If it is ripe, and if it is a Hass, the avocado will keep its overall shape but show some “give”. The Hass variety is noted for being quite soft in comparison to other varieties. That’s why it is the by far the best one for smoothies, guacamole, and spreads. The Florida variety, for example, is much firmer and is better when cubed and used in salads. The reason, again, is its higher fat-to-weight ratio. So, the fatty acids that give it a richer taste also make it much softer.

Finally, the last option to distinguish a Hass avocado is to cut it open. The insides will be a light green color. In the middle, it should have a small to medium-sized seed. The seed is round, as opposed to tear-shaped like in other varieties. Just don’t cut open avocados you don’t intend to buy!

As an addendum, if you don’t get your avocados locally, but from supermarkets or specialized retailers, you can look for the PLU. The PLU is the Product Look-Up code, which is unique for every variety in three different sizes. Here are the codes for the Hass variety:

  • Small/Medium Hass Avocado (~3-5oz avocado) | #4046
  • Large Hass Avocado (~8-10oz avocado) | #4225
  • Extra Large Hass Avocado (~10-15oz avocado) | #4770

Conclusion

how to identify hass avocados
Photo by RΛN SHOT FIRST 

We hope that we could give you some interesting info on the Hass avocado history. We also hope that you are now able to differentiate it from other varieties. As a final tidbit about it, the name Hass comes from Dutch or German. With that in mind, you should pronounce it not as Haas, but with a shorter “a” sound, to rhyme with pass or class. There you go, now you know enough about the Hass avocado both to pick it out and correct your friends’ pronunciations!

We hope that we could give you some interesting info on the Hass avocado history. We also hope that you are now able to differentiate it from other varieties. As a final tidbit about it, the name Hass comes from Dutch or German. With that in mind, you should pronounce it not as Haas, but with a shorter “a” sound, to rhyme with pass or class. There you go, now you know enough about the Hass avocado both to pick it out and correct your friends’ pronunciations!

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