Avocado Tour

Last weekend I was invited by the California Avocado Commission on an Avocado Tour.

I was with about one dozen other Southern California bloggers.

We toured one of California’s leading avocado packing houses, West Pak.

We learned all sorts of avocado factoids. For instance, avocados aren’t picked ripe from the tree. They begin to ripen after they’re picked.

If you ever need to speed the ripening process of an avocado, put it in a brown paper bag on the counter with a banana or an apple, and that should speed things up. And don’t try to ripen avocados in the refrigerator; it won’t happen.

We also learned that California avocados are hand-grown by nearly 5,000 growers.

The growers take such pride in their crops and are committed to growing avocados of the highest quality.

I didn’t know that California produces about 90 percent of the nation’s avocado crop.

It was fun to see all those avocados rollin’ down the river before being boxed for up for their next stop: grocery stores.

You know you’re hanging out with bloggers when everyone has their cameras, iPhones, DSLRs, and Flip cameras at the ready.

As bloggers, we even double fist. My camera was over my neck and my iPhone was in my hand. The KitchenAid event was the same way. I love it.

Greg and Rachael in action about to capture the perfect shot of rolling avocados.

There was also a grove tour with an avocado growner and a lunch showcasing the versatility and flavor of fresh California avocados.

It was fun to see behind-the-scenes glimpses of the farm-to-fork journey of avocados and also catch up with some of my favorite SoCal bloggers.

Here are a few of my favorite avocado recipes, just in time for Cinco de Mayo:

Avocado, Cream Cheese, and Salsa-Stuffed Puff Pastries (with a vegan option)

Warm avocado, with melted cream cheese, flavored with two kinds of salsa.

Just a touch of sweet from the mango salsa, and a kick from the green salsa verde, work well with avocados.

Vanilla Avocado Banana Ice Cream (Raw, Vegan, GF) Rich, creamy, sweet, and very ice cream-like.

People write to me frequently telling me how much they love this healthier recipe for “ice cream” and that it doesn’t taste like avocados.

Cheater’s Guacamole

3 minute recipe. No veggie, onion, or garlic chopping required.

Vanilla Avocado Banana Smoothie in a Bowl

Sweet, creamy, pudding-like. Or thin it out a bit more and drink it with a straw like a smoothie.

Raw Vegan Chocolate Mousse (Raw, Vegan, Gluten Free)

This recipe takes 2 minutes to make and when I bring it to a party, no one ever guesses what the secret ingredient is, and it’s instantly devoured.

People tell me they prefer it to traditional chocolate mousse made with cream, sugar, boiling and baking.

I’m all about the easier, tastier alternatives.

As part of the tour, we were each given five avocados in a goodie bag to take home.

I’ve been enjoying them.

Have you ever been on a farm tour, factory tour, or fun field trip?

It had been years since I did anything like this.

I’m thinking middle school and taking a trip to the fire station. This field trip trumped that one by just a wee bit.

Do you like avocados? What’s your favorite way to eat them?

Thanks for the Kitchen Knives Giveaway entries


83 Responses to “Avocado Tour”

  1. Red Deception — May 4, 2012 at 12:25 am (#

    That looks like a fun day! I love avocados and don’t live anywhere near land that can grow this fruit, but I would love to go see the process myself someday! I would probably try and fill my pockets with avocados lol

  2. j3nn — May 4, 2012 at 12:27 am (#

    What an awesome place to visit! I love, love, love avocado and have been eating a WHOLE one every day this week. They’re on sale for .99 cents, which is half price here in NY. Good tip about ripening them quicker! I knew that about bananas, didn’t know it also works for avocados. Neat! I will try it. :)

    • Averie @ Averie Cooks — May 4, 2012 at 8:58 am (#

      That’s a good price for sure. Even at their cheapest, they’re usually about $1 a piece here. Sometimes they’ll be slightly less but not usually…and sometimes much more based on the season. Yes even on the countertop NEXT to bananas, my avos get pretty ripe in a hurry. I need to sometimes keep the bananas away from them…LOL

  3. Becca — May 4, 2012 at 1:04 am (#

    I LOVE avocados in most everything, but my dad’s guacamole hand-made in his “molcajete” has to be my fave. I’m glad that they take such pride in them down in CA, cause I recently read the CA avocados are actually quite different from the ones grown in FL…who knew?! They have 20% fewer calories, 13% less fat, 60% less carbs, and a much more sifnificant source of eye-healthy carotenoids. Crazy. Can’t wait to try these recipes, thanks for sharing!

    • Averie @ Averie Cooks — May 4, 2012 at 8:57 am (#

      There are many varieties of avocados and I’m sure certain varieties are more common to one region and vice versa. You have great little factoids, there!

  4. Brittany @ Itty Bits of Balance — May 4, 2012 at 2:40 am (#

    I couldn’t think of any other way I’d prefer to spend my weekend than by staring at some bright green avocados!
    Lately I’ve been trying to include more healthy fats in my diet, so naturally avocados were the first thing I started eating more of. With that said, I have a very special appreciation for this post and those recipes! Thanks for posting, Averie :)

  5. Alyssa (Down_To_Earth) — May 4, 2012 at 3:33 am (#

    That tour sounds like so much fun! I feel like it’s important to know where your food comes from; seeing the source and meeting the farmers always makes me feel a little more comfortable buying produce (which is why it’s important to buy local!)
    The groves looked so beautiful from the video. Sounds like you had a great time :)

    • Averie @ Averie Cooks — May 4, 2012 at 8:55 am (#

      It was a great time and in SoCal we are so blessed that for the most part, we can eat locally year round. Now, I may not really “love” the local food available in December but at least we have it compared to say upstate New York or North Dakota where there is nothing growing!

  6. Sally @ sallys baking addiction — May 4, 2012 at 3:40 am (#

    An avocado tour?? sounds like my version of HEAVEN! Or maybe that would be a peanut butter tour…

    i love all your avocado recipes, Averie! i have a go-to mango guacamole recipe I use pretty often. in fact, i’ll be making it tomorrow for cinco de mayo! it’s SO good. I need to try your avocado mousse recipe sometime! I’m intrigued :)

    Happy Friday!

  7. Luv What You Do — May 4, 2012 at 4:46 am (#

    We did a super fun beer tour!

    It was so fun!
    I love avacados and have been thinking about the mouse but havne’t made it yet. Soon!

  8. Annie @ What's Annie Making? — May 4, 2012 at 4:56 am (#

    You are a lucky lady, getting to go on such a great tour! Looks like a fun time. I love avocados! They’re perfect in guac, sliced over tacos, or blended creamy into pasta sauce. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Leanne @ Healthful Pursuit — May 4, 2012 at 4:59 am (#

    90%? Wow, that’s awesome! I’m totally going to use that fact. Thanks for sharing the tour with us :)

    • Averie @ Averie Cooks — May 4, 2012 at 8:53 am (#

      Thanks to me, your random factoid of the day has been fulfilled. Meant to reply yesterday re your $20 monthly fabric store “allowance”…love that :)

    • Leanne @ Healthful Pursuit — May 4, 2012 at 8:59 am (#

      oh my goodness, there needs to be an allowance. Those places are dangerous!!!

  10. Mai Nguyen — May 4, 2012 at 5:14 am (#

    those are some beautiful looking avocados!!

  11. Rachel Cooks — May 4, 2012 at 5:16 am (#

    What a neat experience! I love avocados! :)

  12. Angela — May 4, 2012 at 5:44 am (#

    I don’t even know where to begin! This just might be one of my fav posts. Looooove avocados. Your photography is just stunning! They are so crisp. I can’t believe I haven’t made your avocado banana ice cream yet…looks right up my alley. I think I will make it this weekend for a treat.

    • Averie @ Averie Cooks — May 4, 2012 at 8:52 am (#

      Stunning photography? Well, thank you..I actually was thinking the exact opposite of stunning. As in harsh and reallllllly hard to photograph. We were in a fluorescent-lit-yet-dark-in-parts warehouse and let’s just say, 100% artificial lighting lends nothing to photography :) Thank you for the sweet comment and compliments :)

    • Angela — May 4, 2012 at 8:59 am (#

      Ah you are too hard on yourself! ;)

      I used to hate avocados like many other commenters. All it took was a trip to Mexico to taste the best guac Ive ever had…I never looked back.

  13. Heather (Where's the Beach) — May 4, 2012 at 5:47 am (#

    You already know my stance on them LOL. One day I swear I’m going to like them!

    • Averie @ Averie Cooks — May 4, 2012 at 8:51 am (#

      Hey, not every thing is for every person. I hate garlic and onions and people are always shocked when I tell them.

  14. katie @ KatieDid — May 4, 2012 at 5:57 am (#

    very neat opportunity, I would love a tour like this. After years of despising avocados I literally woke up one day craving one and have been in love since. all it took at first was a little sea salt to fall in love. I eat probably 2 a week now and don’t see that changing anytime soon!

    • Averie @ Averie Cooks — May 4, 2012 at 8:50 am (#

      Given how you eat, your overall dietary path and just what I sense your preferred flavor palette is, I can see avocados being right up there for you!

  15. kris — May 4, 2012 at 6:15 am (#

    how fun! – i loveee avocados and definitely don’t eat enough of them. Time to bring them back into my diet.

  16. Tracy — May 4, 2012 at 6:42 am (#

    Your tour sounds like a great experience! Makes me want some avocados, yum yum yum. My favorite way to eat avocado is this- 1 bagel sliced in half spread with a thin layer of cream cheese with thick avocado slices on top sprinkled with salt (I like to do the same thing with tomatoes) SO SIMPLE SO GOOD! I recently came up with another favorite- avocado mashed with salsa stuffed inside a tortilla.

    The last tour I went on was at the Cape Cod Potato Chip company and was probably close to 10 years ago. It was neat to see and even better to go home with a couple of bags of chips to snack on.

    • Averie @ Averie Cooks — May 4, 2012 at 8:49 am (#

      Your bagel idea sounds good and I do the mashed avo/salsa in a tortilla all the time, actually. So good!

  17. Michele Sparrow — May 4, 2012 at 6:54 am (#

    When my boys were little, we took them to http://www.harleyfarms.com/ and they got to milk the goats! It was so much fun! We were dressed much like you all were, with the plastic caps and all and we got to assemble some cheese at the end with their famous edible flowers. My kids were actually raised on fresh, unpasteurized goat’s milk from a farm that was about 10 minutes from our home and to this day, they still drink that type of milk in their cereal. :-)

    I do like Avocados, but for some reason, maybe because they are so rich, I can only tolerate about 1/3 of an avocado in any given day. Too much makes me feel almost nauseous, but I LOVE them. Especially served as guacamole with lime and fresh pico de gallo. Good stuff! My kids and avocado? Eh…not so much! I bet they will appreciate when they are older! :-)

    Yay – it’s Friday! Have a great weekend, my friend!

    • Averie @ Averie Cooks — May 4, 2012 at 8:49 am (#

      What a great story about the goat farm and that your kids were raised on it and still drink that type of milk. There are some people I know in San Diego who have access to fresh milk like that but you have to know someone who knows someone type of thing. When Skylar was a toddler, she had goat’s milk from the grocery store from time to time.

      Interesting about the avocado and how you react…everyone is so different!

  18. sippitysup — May 4, 2012 at 7:26 am (#

    Who’s that good looking guy in the designer hat? GREG

    • Averie @ Averie Cooks — May 4, 2012 at 8:43 am (#

      I thought you and Rachael were fabulous looking…thanks for being cool with the picture :) Happy Cinco de Mayo. Hopefully it involves avocados..and a drink!

  19. Bev Weidner — May 4, 2012 at 7:35 am (#

    Did you get to wear a hair net?! I HOPE SO.

    It’s like Laverne and Shirley but with avocados!

  20. Ashley @ My Food 'N' Fitness Diaries — May 4, 2012 at 7:52 am (#

    i LOOOOVE me some avocados!! i’ve been eating at least a half of one almost every day lately. :)

  21. Amber Shea @Almost Vegan — May 4, 2012 at 7:55 am (#

    Omigosh, awesome! Just look at all those gorgeous green orbs. TELL me you got to take some home with you!

  22. Marina@Picnic at Marina — May 4, 2012 at 7:56 am (#

    What a lovely tour and a great post Averie! And I was thinking of making something with avocado last night, I need something light after those doughnuts! :) I do love to go to a farms, factories, for a tour. It gives me an opportunity to see how food gets to my table and what routs could be avoided. I have no idea what I am going to make from avocado yet, I will go with a flow. That spark of creative me always (almost) leads me in the right direction. :)
    Happy Friday Averie! :)

  23. CJ at Food Stories — May 4, 2012 at 8:55 am (#

    What a cool day trip. I really like that avocado ripening poster … Great pic!

  24. Erica — May 4, 2012 at 9:16 am (#

    gah! So jealous! I adore avocados! Great on salads or alone with some salt. Yum yum

  25. deirdre — May 4, 2012 at 9:37 am (#

    I am green with envy! JK…thanks for sharing some avocado recipes – just in time for cinco de mayo!

  26. Amber K — May 4, 2012 at 10:41 am (#

    I have been to the Tillamook Cheese Factory (multiple times since it’s on the way to the beach). Avocado is awesome in smoothies. Makes them so thick and pudding-like. Yum!

  27. Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic — May 4, 2012 at 11:06 am (#

    I’ve never been on a factory tour but I do love avocados. My parents have an avocado tree in their backyard in the Philippines and every time I go home, I can’t get enough. My favorite way to eat avocado is either in avocodo toast http://www.confessionsofachocoholic.com/healthy/a-simple-sandwich-avocado-and-mozzarella or as a dessert with condensed milk (which I think you will love too) :)

    • Averie @ Averie Cooks — May 4, 2012 at 12:23 pm (#

      Simple is good and that looks delish. How cool your parents have an avo tree, too!

  28. Meagan @ Scarletta Bakes — May 4, 2012 at 12:09 pm (#

    Woah – what a fun field trip. I adore avocados and am always looking for new ways to work them into my cooking and baking. Love the avocado ice cream recipe – I’ll be trying that soon. Wish I could have joined you!!!

    • Averie @ Averie Cooks — May 4, 2012 at 12:22 pm (#

      I wish you could have joined us, too. You are so creative with all your avo/southwestern/mexi eats and recipes!

  29. Katie — May 4, 2012 at 12:51 pm (#

    I eat them straight up with a spoon. I used to eat them with saltines, just cut open use the saltine as a scoop. I also LOVE them mashed on a toasted corn tortilla, with a little lime juice and some sea salt. I love them so much, I really don’t like to add too much that just complicates the taste.

    Since I’m a huge biology nerd, I knew all this, but it is great to see people learning out in the natural avocado habitat! I am incredibly jealous of your proximity. I used to have an avo tree in my backyard in Hawaii. The avocados were really watery (they weren’t Hass), but they were free, so you know I ate them. A LOT.

    • Averie @ Averie Cooks — May 4, 2012 at 10:05 pm (#

      Simple is best with most anything, really. There’s a time and place for doctored up desserts but with fruits/veggies, keeping them basic and not masking the flavor or overcooking is my preference. Which is sort of how I ended up “raw”…I have always eaten that way but for a few years it had a special name. Now, it’s just…eating, normal. Combined with…doctored up desserts of course :)

  30. Alysha @Shesontherun — May 4, 2012 at 1:08 pm (#

    I’m going on a blogger’s tour of Madison, WI in the beginning of June. We are touring a whole bunch of farms/cheese making facilities. I can’t wait! (I LOVE cheese :)

    • Averie @ Averie Cooks — May 4, 2012 at 10:03 pm (#

      I grew up in MN and then Chicago. Very familiar w/ farm tours and…cheese! Sounds like a blast!

  31. Jenny — May 4, 2012 at 1:30 pm (#

    Lucky you! Avocados are just the best! Love all of your recipe ideas.

  32. Cassie — May 4, 2012 at 1:42 pm (#

    I am so jealous of this. I love, love avocados!

  33. Sam @ Fit for My Fork — May 4, 2012 at 2:19 pm (#

    Averie, I just bought my first avocado because of you. Your easy guacamole recipe inspired me. It’s still sitting on the counter though…

    I’m kind of afraid of it.

    I’ve never had avocado before. Once I cut into it, I have to use it though right? Because it goes a bit brown? Or can I keep half in the fridge for another day?

    • Averie @ Averie Cooks — May 4, 2012 at 10:03 pm (#

      You can cut it in half, lengthwise, and use the half without the pit, save the half with the pit (keep the pit in it, reduces the browning rate) and then just wrap with plastic wrap tightly around it and refrigerate. I find I can get a good 24+ hours before it starts to brown. But really my dear, we are talking about 1 avocado. It’s like 1 apple..not really that big :)

    • Sam @ Fit for My Fork — May 4, 2012 at 11:48 pm (#


      Oh, I know it’s not that big… but I have to ease into these things slowly! :)

  34. Al — May 4, 2012 at 3:12 pm (#

    Darling, will you be my new best friend? I am avocado OBSESSED, and eat guacamole about 5/7 nights a week. I’m not kidding. For about 5 years now, in fact…

    Love this post, and your whole blog!!

    Have a great weekend, doll!

  35. Pure2raw twins — May 4, 2012 at 5:28 pm (#

    we would be in heaven!!! love avocados, how fun!

  36. dragonmamma/naomi — May 4, 2012 at 7:14 pm (#

    Love ’em. I’m going to a Cinco de Mayo party tomorrow, and I assume others will be coming with guacamole and chips; I’m bringing a bowl of papaya and mango chunks mixed with lime juice and cilantro.

  37. Mary Legare Whaley — May 4, 2012 at 7:31 pm (#

    That looks like such a fun tour! Avocados are my favorite, but they are one of those foods that are so foreign to me (as far as their origin). It’s one of those “exotic” produce items here on the east coast. Usually, they’re absurdly over-priced. I’ve taken some tours in my time. The most recent was a tour of the Firefly Vodka distillery on Wadmalaw Island, SC, just outside of Charleston. That was pretty cool. I have a go-to lunch salad that highlights avocados. I use spinach or kale for the base, mandarin orange slices, 1 large avocado (diced), almond slivers (or walnuts), dried cranberries (Craisins are easiest/cheapest), and a light, sweet dressing — either TJ’s Asian Sesame or Newman’s Own Sesame Ginger —my 2 favorites! Give it a try. It’s a perfect summer salad!

    • Averie @ Averie Cooks — May 4, 2012 at 10:00 pm (#

      Sounds like a delish salad and I lived in Myrtle Beach for a few years. I wish I would have gone to Firefly!

  38. Catherine Hoffman — May 4, 2012 at 7:54 pm (#

    Avocados are a huge part of our diet. Here in AZ we can frequently find avos for fifty cents a piece so adding that healthy fat to our diet is a bit cheaper here. As a fifth grader my class took a tour of the green bean plant in Oxnard, Ca. I remember thinking how odd it was that the same green beans would be packaged undere so many different brands. Memories. Looks like you had a good time and yes, your pictures were great!!!!

  39. Paula — May 4, 2012 at 8:04 pm (#

    My favorite way to use avocado is the chocolate mousse, and my husband really likes it too. My mustard seeds have been soaking all day and they seem about double in size–I’ll make the mustard tomorrow and let you know how it is!

    • Averie @ Averie Cooks — May 4, 2012 at 9:59 pm (#

      Oh they are ready to be blended! Can’t wait to hear about it!

      And so glad you like the avo mousse; you can freeze it and let it become almost ice-cream like. Won’t really ever freeze solid b/c of the fat in the avos. It’s even more decadent that way I think!

  40. Rina — May 4, 2012 at 11:04 pm (#

    Our house loves avocados! A friend of ours calls them “nature’s cream cheese”. When they go on sale I buy several dozen, slice them & freeze them. When I saw your tip about ripening them faster I wondered about the opposite – slowing ripening down. Sometimes when I buy several dozen I don’t have time to prep them for freezing right away & sometimes one or two is spoiled when I finally do it. Do you think if I put them in the fridge whole it would slow the ripening process?

    • Averie @ Averie Cooks — May 4, 2012 at 11:31 pm (#

      I put them in the fridge to slow the ripening, too. If I know I am going to have 2 or 3 that are going to all come ripe on the same day, I will put 2 of the 3 in the fridge, keep one out. And then the next two days, use one each day from the fridge. Or make a huge batch of avo mousse that I linked in the post, and then freeze that. It’s wonderful frozen as “ice cream” or make smoothies with them, i.e. the avo ice cream I linked, and then freeze. Takes 10 mins to unthaw and come up to room temp.

      Make stuff with them & basically freeze what you make for a later date is what I do.

  41. Melissa (Better Fit) — May 5, 2012 at 4:25 am (#

    I LOVE avocados! That tour looks like great fun! Good tip about the paper bag for ripening.

  42. Christine (The Raw Project) — May 5, 2012 at 10:13 pm (#

    What a fun tour, lucky! I’d love to see this! I’ve been on a few factory and winery tours, fun stuff.

  43. Deborah — May 7, 2012 at 8:20 am (#

    I have been eating more avocados lately than I ever have, I think. What a fun tour – and I’m loving all of your avocado recipes!

  44. Jolene (www.everydayfoodie.ca) — May 7, 2012 at 8:03 pm (#

    Yep, I like avocados a lot. I really like them as a garnish on tortilla soup, or in guacamole.

  45. Melissa | Dash of East — May 9, 2012 at 2:54 pm (#

    This trip looks like it was so fun! Being with a group of bloggers made it even better, I’m sure.

    It’s been a while since I’ve gone on a factory tour, actually …. I think the last one I went on was a beer brewery tour, ha! But, I am going on a chocolate factory tour next month in Seattle, pretty excited about it!

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