Avocados have become a beloved food for many Americans. Although avocados are originally from Mexico, Central and South America, avocados are now also grown in California and Florida. Demand and popularity for avocados continues to grow around the world.
In fact, the popularity for avocados has grown so much it is estimated the average American adult consumes about 7 pounds of avocados per year (1).
What makes the avocado so popular? The creamy, velvety texture, versatility and nutritional profile make it a favorite for many people.
While the applications for avocados continue to grow (avocado toast using avocado in baked goods, dips, etc.), what can be a common problem for using avocados is waiting for them to ripen.
If you go to the grocery store to use an avocado the same day, chances are the avocado will not be ripe enough.
Did you know that avocados are considered to be a fruit and not a vegetable?
Once an avocado is ripe, it should be consumed immediately for best results. If you have an under-ripe avocado you want to use immediately, it can be tricky.
How to ripen Avocados
Luckily, there are many ways you can get an avocado to ripen quicker. Some methods work better than others and depending on the method taste or texture may be affected.
Here are the four most popular methods to ripen avocados fast:
- Leave them on the counter
- Put them in a paper bag
- Pair it with another fruit
- Put them in microwave for 30-60 seconds
Ripen avocados on the counter
While this isn’t the quickest method to ripen an avocado, it is the most natural way. On average, just setting your avocados on the counter can ripen them in about 3-5 days.
It’s best to check avocados everyday for firmness, as the range for ripening can vary widely. An indicator for ripeness is for an avocado to be soft, not mushy.
If an avocado is hard or doesn’t give when lightly squeezed, it is still under ripe.
Avocados that are not cut open should be left on the counter to encourage ripening. Placing avocados can slow the ripening process.
Therefore, if you have a ripe avocado but don’t want to use it yet, you could put it in the frig to slow the ripening process.
Ripen avocados in a paper bag
Placing avocados in a paper bag can quicken the ripening process. Certain fruits, like avocados, apples, pears or bananas, produce a hydrocarbon gas called ethylene.
Ethylene is released by fruit throughout the ripening process. Ethylene can act like an aging hormone for plants; it makes them softer, can be produced if a fruit is injured and can shorten the stem (2).
If an avocado is left on the counter in a folded paper bag, the ethylene gas is concentrated around the avocado which can speed up the ripening process.
Using a folded paper bag also allows the fruit to still get air flow which may help limit bacteria growth.
Putting avocados in a paper bag may speed up the ripening process by a day or 2, but it probably won’t ripen a hard avocado over night let alone in a few hours.
Pair it with another fruit
Does adding fruit or flour ripen avocados quicker?
A way to quicken the ripening process in addition to putting an avocado in a paper bag is to pair it with another fruit that produces ethylene gas.
For example, putting an avocado in a folded paper bag with a banana or apple can add the concentrated amount of ethylene gas which should speed up the ripening process.
According to Epicurious.com (3), adding flour to a paper bag can also increase the amount of ethylene gas and may help quicken ripening process.
However, in their comparison between ripening avocados with a paper bag, paper bag with fruit and paper bag with flour, the ripening time wasn’t different when fruit or flour were added to the paper bag.
All instances provided about 4 days of ripening. However, other websites may suggest different results for adding fruit or flour to a paper bag for ripening.
Ripen avocado in microwave or oven
What if you buy a rock hard avocado but want to use it that day for a recipe? Is there anything that can really quicken the ripening process?
Cooking an avocado, while whole, may help expedite the release of ethylene gas which can help increase ripening.
Popping a whole avocado in the microwave for about 30-60 seconds can help increase ripening.
A down side with this method is it can produce uneven ripening. It may also impact flavor and smell of an avocado. However, if you are really desperate for a ripe avocado immediately, it could do the trick.
Another way to heat up an avocado to increase release of ethylene gas is to put the whole avocado in the oven.
A common recommendation for using an oven is to wrap the avocado in tin foil and place in a 200 degree Fahrenheit oven for about 10 minutes.
However, in order to ripen the avocado fully from a rock hard stage, it may need to stay in the oven longer than 10 minutes. You can check the avocado periodically for how soft it feels.
Different ways to use avocados
Avocados are so versatile which is one reason they are growing in popularity. Certain cuisines naturally use avocado as a staple in their diet.
However, there are many other ways to use avocados outside of traditional Mexican, Central and South American dishes.
Using avocados in place of butter or oil for baking recipes can help lower saturated fat without compromising texture.
Avocado puree can be used in pastas, avocado slices can be used in place of mayo on sandwiches and avocado can be used as a base for various dips or spreads.
If you know you will be using avocados for cooking during the week, try to buy them ahead of time so they can ripen on your counter or in a paper bag.
You may be able to speed up the ripening quickly by using a microwave or oven, but some suggest the flavor or texture may be compromised.