Just about every guacamole lover has wondered how to ripen avocados at some point. After all, the much-beloved fruit has a reputation for taking forever and a day to turn ripe — and (sadly) only a short period of time to go bad. Even a seasoned avocado enthusiast can get a little bit confused about whether an avocado is even ripe in the first place before cutting it open. Luckily, there are a few tricks that can help you learn how to ripen avocados quickly — after you inspect their current condition.
You can figure out if an avocado is already ripe in two steps: giving the exterior a thorough once-over and gently applying pressure to the fruit. If the produce is ready to eat, then the skin should be an extremely dark green or black color. It should feel bumpy, heavy, and firm. And it should easily yield to gentle pressure. That said, it's crucial that you don't confuse a rotten or damaged avocado for a ripe one. One big rookie mistake is choosing a fruit with portions or pockets that are softer, mushier, or flatter than others. This is easy to do if you don't give the entire avocado a proper inspection.
Now that we've got that out of the way, so you won't be shelling out your hard-earned cash for inedible produce, let's discuss how to ripen avocados at home that just don't seem to want to come out of their shells yet.
How to Ripen Avocados Quickly
A ripe (left) and unripe avocado, side by side. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
According to Food & Nutrition, there's a pretty simple way you can learn how to ripen avocados fast, and it involves just two items you probably already have in your kitchen: an under-ripe banana and a paper bag. All you have to do is place the unripe avocado in the bag with the banana, put the bag on your kitchen countertop, and — here's the hard part — leave it alone for a while. Open the bag after 24 to 48 hours have passed, and you can bask in the glory of the deliciously delectable green that awaits you. As One Green Planet reports, bananas naturally release ethylene gas, which can help speed up the ripening of the avocado. It's like magic!
If you want to know how to ripen avocados without a paper bag — and if you can manage to wait a few more days before digging in — you can also use uncooked rice as an alternative method. Wait, how can you ripen avocados quickly with something as strange as that? Since uncooked rice does a pretty decent job of trapping ethylene gas, the company Avocados From Mexico suggests placing your unripe avocado in a bowl full of uncooked rice and completely submerging the fruit in the grains. As long as you check on your produce daily, you should notice it becoming more ripe as time passes.
But if all that sounds like a little too much trouble to go through for one avocado — and if you have the luxury of a little more time — you can also opt for the totally natural route of simply placing the fruit in the sunlight. If you put it by your window sill or another spot in your home that gets a lot of sunlight, you'll be pleased to know that this slightly warmer temperature can help ripen the fruit faster too.
Can you learn how to ripen avocados in the microwave or oven?
Chances are, you've seen a few so-called "hacks" floating around on the web that claim to teach you how to ripen avocados in ovens, or even how to ripen avocados in the microwave. But according to the California Avocado Commission, these are two things you can't — and shouldn't — do to quicken the ripening. "Do not microwave your avocados or put your avocados in the oven to try to ripen them faster," writes Zac Benedict, the commission's online marketing director. "If you do, the microwave or oven may soften the flesh of the fruit a little, which may make it 'seem' ripe, but it isn’t. The avocado will taste unripe and won't have the creaminess or buttery, nutty flavor we all know and love." Sounds like a quick way to get bunch of green goop — which we'll definitely take a pass on.
How to Ripen Avocados Overnight
A ripe (left) and unripe avocado, close up. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Considering the fact that it can take a few days for the fruits to ripen on their own, knowing how to ripen avocados overnight might sound like a dream come true. As Avocados from Mexico explains, this dream is actually possible to achieve in reality. However, before you get too excited, know that there is an important caveat. Remember that banana and paper bag trick that can take up to 24 or even 48 hours? Of this hack, the company writes, "Depending on the avocado, ripeness may be achieved overnight, so it’s important to check back daily." And in this context, "depending on the avocado" means exactly what you think it means — depending on how ripe the little guy was already before you got involved.
Essentially, the key to ripening an avocado overnight means selecting one that is at least in a pre-ripened stage. A telltale sign of this is when it slowly begins to yield to gentle pressure, so keep that in mind the next time you're hastily inspecting a batch at the store. But don't get any ideas about trying to learn how to ripen avocados in minutes — that's just as much of a false promise as the oven or microwave tricks.
How to Ripen a Cut Avocado
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Isn't it so depressing when you buy an avocado that you think is ripe, only to cut it open to see that it's not quite there yet? How do you ripen avocados quickly if the flesh has already been exposed? Should you panic? No! If this happens to you, don't toss your precious produce in the trash. According to the Hass Avocado Board, there is hope to salvage the fruit if you can remember how to ripen cut avocados.
All you have to do is sprinkle the exposed avocado flesh with either lime juice or lemon juice, place the two halves back together, cover the avocado with a clear plastic wrap, and put it back in the fridge. From there on out, check the avocado periodically to see when it softens up enough to eat. Depending on how close the avocado was to being ripe already, the time of the ripening process will vary. (We don't know about you, but we're totally kicking ourselves for tossing away avocados that could have been saved in the past. Never making that mistake again!)
What is the fastest way to ripen an avocado?
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Most experts cite the banana and paper bag method when teaching others how to ripen an avocado — because it works like such a charm. That said, we can't drive this point home enough: It works the best and the quickest when the avocado is already in the process of ripening. However, if you don't happen to have a banana on you and you desperately need your avocado to be looking fresh in a matter of a day or two — hey, we've been there! — a banana isn't your only option of produce for this method. You can also use an apple or a kiwifruit, since those fruits also produce ethylene gas and thus can help speed up the avocado's ripening process.
At the end of the day, there is no 100-percent guarantee that your avocado will be ready to be sliced and diced whenever the heck you want it to be. Though these tips and tricks have come in handy for many folks out there, avocados are mysterious and unpredictable; you never know exactly what you're going to get when you peek inside one. Maybe that's what makes it so special when we finally get a perfectly creamy green one in our hot little hands. But no matter how long it takes for you to learn how to ripen avocados, you can at least be thankful that you can go to the store to grab one. Imagine growing an actual avocado tree and having to wait three or four years for the fruit to emerge — or, even more excruciating, growing a tree from a seed and then waiting a whopping five to 13 years for the produce to greet the world?
We'll take our chances with the grocery store, thanks!
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