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A Hass avocado is a type of avocado fruit developed early in the 19th century. Avocado, also commonly called alligator pear, comes from the Persea species tree. The Hass avocado has a large pit surrounded by creamy green flesh, which is protected by a rough, pebbly skin. The Hass is one of the most widely grown avocado varieties.
Avocado trees originated in Guatemala, the West Indies and Mexico. Numerous varieties have been developed from all these original strains. The Hass avocado comes from a Guatemala tree variety. In general, avocados are a warm-climate crop, but some varieties are more sensitive to cold than others. The Guatemala strains can withstand temperatures between 26° and 30° Fahrenheit (-3° to -1° C).
Rudolph Hass planted the original tree from a seed in 1926. The resulting avocados were found to be excellent and the tree was cloned. Hass avocados make up most of the crops in cultivation in 2011. The original tree, which was responsible for numerous clones and one of the most prized avocado varieties, developed root rot in 2002 and died.
Avocados do not reproduce true to seed. A seed from an excellent tree can produce mediocre fruit. Getting a good tree from a seed is possible but not common. Once a good variety has been established, trees are cloned for reliable fruit production.
The Hass avocado fruit ranges in size from 5 to 12 ounces. It has an oval shape and pebbly, coppery purple skin. This avocado peels easily because of its thick skin. Some thin-skin types of avocados do not peel as easily. The creamy, pale green flesh of the Hass also is said to have superior flavor.
An alternate on the traditional Hass avocado is the summer-producing Lamb Hass. This cultivated variety is larger than traditional Hass avocados, growing between 11.75 and 18.75 ounces when fully mature. Lamb Hass avocados have the same oval shape and dark purple skin.
A ripe Hass avocado has dark skin. Before the fruit is fully ripe, it appears green in color. When fully ripe, the flesh gives slightly under pressure. Very soft Hass avocados should be avoided, because they are likely to be overripe.
Hass avocados are predominantly used raw. The skin is peeled away from the flesh and sliced away from the hard seed. Hass avocados can be mashed and combined with lemon or lime juice, garlic, chili peppers and salt to make the traditional Mexican dip guacamole. Avocados, including Hass varieties, also can be lightly cooked.