Some people mistakenly believe the avocado they see in their grocery store produce department is the only kind of avocado there is. In reality there are around 500 kinds of avocados and the Zutano Avocado is one of them. If you’ve never heard of it, you’re not alone, but you don’t have to be in the dark about this variety any longer!
Curious to know what the Zutano avocado is like? We’ve got all the information you’d like to know about this lesser known variety of the ever popular avocado.
Keep reading to find out where it came from, what this avocado looks and tastes like, health benefits, how to use it, and even tips for growing your own Zutano avocados at home.
History of the Zutano Avocado
The Zutano avocado was developed by R.L. Ruitt in 1926 in Fallbrook, California which is about halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego.
Over time farmers began noticing that Hass avocado trees planted near a Zutano avocado tree regularly produced more and larger fruit than those planted farther away. For that reason, Zutano avocados are often planted around the edge of Hass avocado groves where their flowers can provide cross-pollination. Zutanos are also commonly planted in some areas of the central valley in California where it gets too cold for more popular varieties like the Haas.
Characteristics of The Zutano Avocado Tree
Zutano avocado trees are hardy and productive, growing to about 30-40 feet in height with a trunk diameter of up to 2 feet. They grow upright with spreading branches and a rounded shape. The leaves are dark green and oval-shaped with a glossy sheen. Light greenish white flowers grow in clusters on the tips of the branches.
Characteristics of The Zutano Avocado Fruit
The Zutano Avocado is pear shaped with thin, glossy skin that has a slightly pebbled texture and stays green when ripe. It’s similar in taste and appearance to the Fuerte avocado. It’s a medium sized avocado, usually between 8-14 oz.
All About the Zutano Avocado
Zutano avocado trees are mainly used for pollinating Haas avocados. Some growers even prune the trees to encourage flowering for cross-pollination and limit fruit production.
Sometimes called a farmer’s market avocado, the Zutano isn’t a very popular avocado for producing commercially. It’s mild flavor and green when ripe color makes it harder to market to consumers which has caused the price to drop over time. Some farmer’s say it costs more to water the tree than they make selling the fruit.
What Do They Taste Like?
The Zutano has less fat and a higher water content than other avocados which gives it a very mild taste. It isn’t as rich and nutty as some varieties such as the popular Haas. Some describe the flavor as almost citrusy. If you find a traditional avocado flavor too strong, you might enjoy the subtler flavor of Zutano avocados.
How To Use Them
Avocados are delicious raw and work well for topping tacos, salads, or burgers. They don’t handle cooking very well so they’re best added at the very end of recipes when used in things like soups or omelettes.
Since their flavor is so mild Zutanos are great to add to things like smoothies or brownies where you want to add some nutrition without dramatically changing the flavor. They don’t work as well in recipes where you’re looking for a rich avocado flavor to be the star of the show, like in guacamole. Here are a few more recipe ideas for using Zutano avocados:
Save Some For Later
If you’re only using half of an avocado, here’s a tip on how to save the rest for later without it turning brown. After slicing in half, keep the skin on and seed in. Sprinkle your avocado with lemon juice before covering tightly with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge and use within 2 days.
Avocados are one of the most nutrient dense foods available. They’re a good source of almost 20 essential nutrients including vitamin c, vitamin k, dietary fiber, folate, and potassium. They’re great for your heart, nutrients in avocados can help regulate blood pressure and protect against heart disease and stroke. The Zutano avocado is also lower in fat than other varieties making it lower in calories and easy to enjoy even if you’re watching your fat and calorie intake.
Avocados make a great first food for babies as they are soft, easy to eat, and full of nutrients. They’re also a great snack for kids of all ages. The fiber and healthy fat in avocados can help kids (and adults) feel full and satisfied. For more information about the health benefits of avocados, check out this article
Where To Buy The Zutano Avocado
Zutanos are often among the cheapest avocados you can find making them a great choice if you’re on a budget. They aren’t widely grown commercially so it’s unlikely that you’ll find them at the grocery store. Check your local farmer’s markets or roadside fruit stands in mid fall to late winter to get some fresh, in season Zutano avocados.
Growing Your Own Zutano Avocados
Grow your own Zutano avocados for the fruit themselves or to cross pollinate and improve the yield from your other avocado trees. Zutanos ripen during the off season of many popular varieties so they’re a great choice if you want to extend your time to enjoy fresh, homegrown avocados.
Where To Get Seeds Or Plants
If you live in an area where avocados are commonly grown, check with your local nurseries. You can also buy Zutano avocado trees online from several places including Citrus.com, Four Winds Growers, or Louie’s Nursery. Want to grow it yourself from the very beginning? You can use the seed after you’ve eaten your Zutano avocado.
If you live in zones 8-11 you can plant your avocado tree outside. You’ll need a large location of around 20 feet around so your tree will have plenty of room to grow and develop strong roots. Not to worry, if you live in zone 4-11 you can also grow Zutano avocado trees in large pots. Zutanos are cold hardy to 25 degrees. Here are some tips on growing an avocado tree indoors.
Zutanos like full sun and well drained fine, sandy, or loamy soil with a pH between 5 and 7. Young avocado trees have shallow roots and need frequent, shallow watering. Use a wood mulch around your tree to reduce evaporation and help keep the soil moist.
Excited to try growing you own Zutano avocado tree? Here’s a detailed article on how to grow an avocado tree.
When to Harvest Zutano Avocados
It’ll take several years for your trees to produce fruit, but fresh, homegrown avocados are worth the wait! Once your tree starts producing fruit, Zutanos are usually ready to pick between mid fall-late winter. You can leave them on the tree a little longer to increase the fat content if you’d like. They won’t fully ripen until they’re picked so leave them on the tree until you’re just about ready to use them.
Common Avocado Tree Pests and Diseases
Unfortunately for every grower, you’ll face challenges such as pests and disease. There are several common avocado pests including borers, mites, and caterpillars. For more information on identifying and preventing avocado pests check out this article.
Common diseases for avocado trees include root rot and verticillium wilt. Here’s an article with more information on how to identify, prevent, and treat avocado tree diseases
Final Thoughts On The Zutano Avocado
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading more about this avocado! While it’s not as popular as some other varieties, the Zutano has a light flavor that is delicious in it’s own right, and it’s super helpful for growing the more popular varieties we all like to enjoy.
Have you ever tried the Zutano avocado? What’s your favorite variety of avocado? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below! To read about some other avocado varieties, click here for our avocado blog posts.