By Vicki Means
Avocados are tricky little fruits. Unlike other fruits and vegetables, avocados don’t ripen on the tree. Instead, they ripen once the farmer has picked them.
You can tell an avocado is ripe when its skin is a dark color and the fruit gives slightly when you squeeze it. Unripe avocados are usually bright or dark green and quite firm when squeezed. Overripe, or spoiled avocados appear visually the same as a ripe avocado but are mushy when squeezed.
Cutting into an avocado is another way to tell if it’s ripe. Unripe avocados will be yellow with a pit that’s a challenge to remove. Ripe avocados are the signature light green with a pit that comes out easily. Overripe avocados are usually green and brown and so mushy that the pit might come out on its own once cut.
Often, you’ll buy a green avocado hoping it’ll ripen by the time you want to use it, but it’ll still be hard and flavorless when the time comes to add it to your meal. Luckily, there are a few well-proven tactics for ripening avocados to ensure they’ll be at their peak tastiness when it’s time to eat.
Buy Ripe Avocados
The first option for ensuring you have a nice, flavorful ripe avocado for your meal is to purchase it already ripe. If you go for this method, ensure that you’ll eat it within a day or two of purchase. Ripe avocados only stay perfect for 24 to 48 hours before starting to over-ripen and spoil.
If you’ve never selected an avocado from the store before, remember to check the color and feel of the avocados before making your choice. The darker and firmer it is, the more likely it’s ripe or headed to overripeness.
Place the Avocado in a Brown Paper Bag with a Banana
Another method for ripening avocados is placing the fruit in a brown paper bag with a banana. This should ripen an avocado in two to three days, depending on the original ripeness of the avocado. This process will also ripen the banana, so be aware of that when using this method.
Bananas produce a hormone called ethylene, which triggers ripening in fruits. The bag raps the ethylene gases and puts them to work on the avocado, encouraging it to ripen more quickly than it would on its own. If you don’t have a banana around, apples and kiwis produce the same hormone, so you can use them as well.
Bake the Avocado
Your bread is in the toaster and you’ve got your fried egg ready, but your avocado is still not ripe. Save your avocado toast by baking the avocado. The heat of the oven ripens a hard avocado in minutes. This method is most effective on avocados that are firm, but dark in color. Totally unripe, green-skinned avocados might not ripen effectively with this method.
First, wrap the avocado in a tight layer of aluminum foil and place it on a baking sheet. Heat your oven to 200 degrees and bake the avocado for 10 to 15 minutes. You’ll want the fruit to soften but not heat up, so keep a close eye on it as it bakes.
Put the Avocado in the Microwave
If you need your avocado ripe and ready within seconds, this microwave trick might be your best move. However, a warm avocado is not ideal, so be sure to watch the avocado closely, and try to remove it from the microwave before it overheats.
To ripen your avocado in the microwave, begin by poking the fruit with a fork or knife a few times so it vents while cooking. If you can, turn the power down to 50% or lower and heat for 30 seconds. Test the firmness and then repeat heating for 30-second intervals until the avocado is the appropriate firmness.
Don’t let the avocado’s persnickety nature keep you from enjoying fresh guacamole or a rejuvenating face mask. Try buying ripe avocados for immediate use, or speed up the ripening process for late bloomers with the help of ethylene-producing fruit friends or the heat of the oven or microwave. Happy snacking!