Margaret Eby

This varietal is bigger than the standard Hass and has creamy, golden flesh

Margaret Eby
June 12, 2018

The East Coast, whatever its virtues, is an avocado-poor region. It is a sad state of affairs, really, one that you especially realize when you take a trip to California and see the sheer bounty of the precious, millennial-coveted fruit. In New York City, where I live, it's rare to see any kind of avocado except for the almighty Hass. In California, you can get all kinds of local variations: the Bacon avocado (which, no, does not taste like bacon), the Lamb Hass (larger than your average Hass), and the Fuerte (a rare variety that's also XXL). But the one I wish I could get my hands on at home the most is the Reed avocado.

What is a Reed avocado? It looks slightly different than the pear-shaped, nubby Hass. It's a round fruit, and the outer skin is smoother and less pebbled than a Hass. Reed avocados grow large—according to the California Avocado Commission, anywhere from half a pound to a pound and a half. I recently visited the West Pak avocado packing facility outside San Diego, courtesy of the CAC, and our guide mentioned that they've seen Reed avocados weigh up to two pounds, enough to supply a party-sized bowl of guacamole with a single fruit. Avocados, like bananas, don't ripen until after they're picked, which makes it easier for farmers to leave them on the vine to grow larger. The Reeds come into season later in the summer than Hass avocados do, and are typically available in September and October. 

Unlike Hass avocados, the Reeds don't darken much as they ripen. Rather, you have to rely on a touch test—it should give way slightly to firm pressure, but not too much. And if you shake them, the pit will rattle slightly if they're ripe, according to our tour guide. Reeds are creamier and denser than Hass avocados—to me they tasted slightly less oily and less nutty. And most importantly, at their size, one Reed will make you a lot of avocado toast. Look for them starting late summer and into fall, and you won't be sorry. 

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