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They are already in Marks & Spencer shops in England: pitless avocados. Eventually, these avocados will come to a grocery shop near you. But what are pitless avocados and where do they come from?
First of all, pitless avocados are not so new. There is often a percentage of stoneless fruit on an avocado tree, especially in the case of the popular cultivars 'Fuerte', 'Arad' and 'Mexicola', especially when the growing conditions are not conducive to perfect ripening.
Growers call them gherkins or pickled avocados and until recently rejected them. But now they call them cocktail avocados - more sophisticated, right? - and seem to have found an outlet for these rejects.
Not GMOs avocado
By the way, no, these fruits are not GMOs. You don't have to do gene transfers to create pitless avocados when it happens spontaneously! Besides, humans have been growing seedless grapes, bananas and oranges (and other fruits) for a very long time; long before genetic engineering. So people who are terrified of GMOs can rest assured
In the case of seedless avocados, the development of the fruit is stimulated when the flower is pollinated normally, but the production of the stone aborts very quickly. In this case, the fruit often continues to develop. This results in a fruit without a stone in the centre. This phenomenon is called stenospermocarpy: it is the same thing that gives seedless grapes
Baby avocados have always been available in avocado producing countries. What is new is that they are now also starting to be distributed in northern countries... and creating a craze for this type of fruit.
Already, despite their small size, they sell for about the same price as stone avocados. If you compare the two visually, the stone avocado seems much more profitable. However, as there is no large, heavy stone to remove in the pickled avocado and the pickled avocado consists almost entirely of flesh, perhaps the difference in value between the two is not as great as it seems.
In England, where they have been on the market since early December 2017, the media jumped on the story. The result is that in 149 Marks & Spencer shops, the only shop that sells them, the fruit is disappearing as quickly as it can be placed on the shelves
Baby avocados from Spain
Oddly enough, M&S mostly promote these small avocados as a safer option to the classic avocado, as thousands of people are said to cut themselves annually by removing the pit from an avocado in England. The English must be particularly clumsy, because I personally have never seen the stone avocado as a threat to my health.
The most surprising thing about pitless avocados is how small they are. Measuring just 5-8 cm in length and 1.25 cm in diameter, they actually look like pickles
Their skin is thinner than that of the normal avocado and so, we are told, they can be eaten whole. In fact, they are marketed as "cocktail avocados", suggesting that they can be served whole as an appetizer. I tried them in Costa Rica once and, quite honestly, I found the skin bitter enough that I personally think I'll continue to open the fruit to eat the flesh and compost the outside
If mini avocados come to dominate the market, it could signal the end of a long tradition: planting the pit of your avocado as a houseplant. After all, the avocado is one of the most popular houseplants and all of these plants have been produced from pits
Fortunately, I don't think the stone avocado will disappear any time soon. You'll probably have years left to start your own home-grown avocado production. On the other hand, I suspect that many people will opt for pickled avocados when they hit the market more widely. They are so cute!