Do You Know Fuerte Avocados?

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fuerte avocados

Beautiful Fuerte Avocados from California Avocados Direct

Have you tried Fuerte avocados?  I love the Fuertes and wait all year for them to be  ready to eat  in the winter months,  between December and March.   If you live outside of southern California you may not find them in the stores.  This is because they have a thinner skin and do not ship as well as  the Hass variety.   The  rich, nutty flavor of the Fuertes  is so special that avocado-philes are learning where they can order these beauties … fresh  from a family farm in California!

The Fuerte avocado was actually the variety that started the whole California avocado industry.  In 1911, a 21 year old  American named Carl Schmidt traveled to Puebla, Mexico, which is 80 miles east of Mexico City.  He was searching for the best quality avocados so that he could take some bud-wood from the trees to grow better trees in the United States.   A nursery in Altadena, Ca. had hired him to find the budwood so it could be grafted onto root-stock to grow high quality trees in California.  He cut budwood from the best trees,  numbered the pieces and shipped them home to Altadena.  Most of those buds did not adapt well to the soil and climate in California,  but the piece labeled #15 grew strong.  It was able to survive the great  freeze of 1913 in California, and so it was given the name “Fuerte”, which means “strong” in Spanish.  That one special tree was the beginning of the avocado industry in California.

Cutting and Peeling a Fuerte avocado

Cutting and Peeling a Fuerte avocado: Perfection!

If you like flavorful avocados, you will love the Fuerte.   A large Fuerte can weigh up to a pound, but usually they are 8 to 12 oz. in size.   Fuertes  look like elongated pears, and the skin is a beautiful grass-green with some darker speckles mixed in.  The fruit itself is pale yellow with a smooth, creamy texture.  Fuertes are less oily that other avocados,  but the flavor is very rich and nutty.  Earlier in December they won’t have as much flavor as later on in January or February, as the fruit matures.

 

Fuerte and Hass Avocados

Can you tell which one is the Fuerte?

Fuerte avocados were once the top variety, but were displaced in the 1930’s by the newer Hass variety.  Hass has a thicker, bumpy skin that can be rolled and handled without as much risk to damage.   For this reason, Hass avocados can be shipped great distances in quantity.   The avocado industry has gradually shifted to Hass as the most marketable variety.  Hass avocados are shipped into the United States from other countries such as Mexico and Chile.

Our Fuerte trees are beautiful…the branches grow into interesting shapes, and the new growth on the trees can include some gorgeous colors.  Natural art!

Fuerte trees

Beautiful older Fuerte trees make a magical forest!

So are you disappointed that you can’t get Fuerte avocados in stores?   If you are a person who really loves avocados,  you owe it to yourself to try the Fuertes!  They are often found in Farmers ‘ Markets in southern California, but the ones I’ve seen in the markets have been very small.

We’ d be happy to ship you some Fuertes while they are in season.!  Just run over to our e-commerce site at California Avocados Direct.   You can get a subscription for the Fuerte season, or sign up for the whole year, including the Hass and the Reed varieties too!  It’s just like having your own avocado tree!

box of avocados from California Avocados Direct

Gift Box of Fuerte Avocados from California Avocados Direct (photo by Tamara Moravec)

 

 

 

 

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88 Comments

  1. Thanks Mimi,
    I remember these Fuertes from growing up in SF Bay Area. They were always the best. Then they disappeared! Have missed them.
    Maybe I will order some from you then.

  2. Been thinking and researching about Hass vs Fuerte. Since Fuerte is a California grown fruit, it would seem more desirable than fruit from Mexico. So what exactly happened (in 1972?) that made Hass be the one avocado? What do you mean standardized?

  3. Thank you, Mimi
    My goodness! What a story about Hass. Thank you for enlightening me. I do probably eat 7 pounds of the green gold per year.

  4. My grandfather planted his first Fuertes in the late 30’s traveling from Long Beach to Leucadia CA every weekend to plant more. I still like Fuerte fruit better than any others waiting til they are ready to drop. My grandfather also planted Dickinsons, Nabals, Anaheims, Examinas, Helens and Reeds- his great experiment. 30 years later it only made sense to graft everything to Hass. most California fruit was being shipped out of state. New York City was a huge market. The thicker Hass skins preserved the fruits better in shipping. I can still picture my dad and grandfather grafting the trees one stump at a time over 3 years/ 3 acres. I grew up in Oceanside CA in 2 acres of avocados mostly Anaheims which are watery almost to the point where they are drops. It was family picked every year and sold to produce buyers in LA. Later my Father had 6 acres of Hass in San Luis Rey (Bonsall) CA. He spent every day in the grove doing maintenance. Until he was in his 60’s he was still picking his own fruit.

    I don’t have room to grow avocados except for one Bacon planted close to a year ago. It lost all it’s first year blooms but is very healthy, growing rapidly with fresh lucious leaves everywhere. I’m in Escondido.

    • Hi Doug, Thanks for your comment. Nice to hear local avocado history. I like Fuertes the best too. We had to graft most of the non-Hass varieties, but in the last year or two we have planted more of the different varieties (not Hass). People who order our gift boxes enjoy trying those varieties.

    • In my experience with two Bacons is that they are a great tree but if a heat wave shows up, they are the first to drop fruit. With the earth warming I would plant something else.

  5. Hi Mimi,
    Where are you located?

  6. Mimi, I’m not sure when to pick our Fuertes. They’re a good size, but should the stems be turning brown when they’re ready? Our trees are 7 years old.

    • Stems do not turn brown when they’re ready. They are “in season” now. There is a date that is set by the state when Fuertes of a certain size can be harvested — this occurs in late Nov. or in Dec. Pick a few now and see how they taste. They should be perfect! By the end of Feb or middle of March they will be getting very mature (higher oil content) and may go ‘over the hill’ faster. NOW is the time to enjoy Fuertes! Hope this helps.

      • Thanks so much, Mimi. I’ll pick a few and see how they taste. We live in Orange County,( Rancho Mission Viejo). All the trees on the ranch here are Haas, but since I grew up with Fuertes, that’s what we planted. Plus ,I love them! My dad planted two trees in our backyard in South Gate 1941, and they’re still there! We finally have a yard large enough to grow these trees, and we have two.
        Marilyn (also Mimi)

  7. I live in Riverside and my Fuertes are at their best in mid March. If picked before mid February they don’t ripen properly.

    In my opinion Fuertes are the best. It saddens me to see that the new groves being planted in the area are all Hass.

    • I agree with you. Fuertes are my favorites too! They seem to get better as their oil content increases. We used to have more Fuerte trees, but there was a point years ago when we couldn’t sell them — so we grafted them to Hass. Now people are interested in the other varieties again.

  8. Thanks so much for this wonderful website. What is your advice about two 10 year old Fuerte trees that are not producing fruit? They grow beside each other, have plenty of flowers, bees, and small fruits — the small fruits fall off or disappear. We do control the rodent population….
    We have one other 30+ year old Fuerte that produces prolifically. We also have a Reed about the same age that is an excellent producer.
    My husband is ready to chop down the two non-producing Fuerte trees and plant another variety.

    • Hi Lorie, If you have a Fuerte and a Reed that both produce well, I would agree with your husband that it’s time to start with some new trees. There are some wonderful varieties to enjoy now, and the root stocks are better able to cope with the saltier water that we have now too. In the last several years we have planted Pinkertons, Nabals, Carmen Hass, and other varieties. Here’s another idea: how about Tango mandarin oranges? They are seedless and sweet – we love ours!

      Hope this helps.
      Mimi

    • My 10-year-old Fuerte (grown from a pit) was not producing. It was suggested that I drive a couple of nails into the trunk to “shock” the tree. Google it and you will see it is common knowledge. I did that and the tree began producing the next season. If it works, it would be a lot easier and/or cheaper than replacing the tree. My tree grows alone in my front yard in the NorthEast San Fernando Valley.

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