There is a certain fast food sandwich chain that does an extensive amount of advertising to let people know when it is "Avocado season." They also make sure they let people know this season happens for a limited time, so people better hurry down now to spend money. In a global agricultural economy, it is almost laughable to believe that any produce has a season anymore. However, the more exotic a fruit is, the easier it is to believe misinformation. As Latin fusion restaurants become more popular, and people are looking for new flavors to try while eating healthier, it is important to see just how much truth there is to this "Avocado season."
Since avocados grow almost exclusively in tropical and sub-tropical regions, their growing and harvesting season is much longer than what most people in the United States are used to when it comes to local produce. (The "almost" part of their region recognizes one specific sub-species that tolerates cold better than most and is raised in Northern Florida). Some places that raise avocados are able to have harvests year round, which is why guacamole has become a permanent menu addition to many casual fine dining restaurants.
Another factor that works in avocados favor when it comes to availability is that it shares a rare trait with only a few other plants, most noticeably bananas. Referred to as a climacteric fruit, they mature on the tree but do not begin to ripen until they are harvested. This means that a grower can control how much they harvest at a time and how long they extend their season by allowing them to stay on the trees for several weeks or even months after they can first be harvested.
This also means that if you are trying to recreate one of those family friendly restaurant menu items at home and you are shopping for avocados, the ones you want to pick up at the store should be hard and green. Once harvested, they are kept between 35 and 42 degrees to hold off ripening. Once they reach room temperature, they have about a two week life span. If you pick avocados that are already ripe, you need to use them within a day or two.
When casual fine dining restaurants talk about a menu item being a limited time or a seasonal addition, what they are referring to is their commitment to purchasing as much locally as they can. A restaurant in Appleton, Wisconsin will never have the chance to buy avocados locally, so for them, avocados are always in season, no matter what the commercials on television tell you.
Jack Terry is a freelance writer who has been covering the food and beverage industry for 20 years. http://www.osorioslatinfusion.com