How To Ripen (Not Just Soften) Avocados Faster

Whether you like to slice it for avocado toast or wish to stuff it with egg salad for lunch, it seems the avocado in your pantry is never ripe when you want it most. Often, avocados' short peak ripeness window means they are too underripe to eat on one day but overripe and rotten after only two or three. Unless you constantly check on your avocados and use them immediately, you will inevitably waste half your purchase.

However, by understanding how avocados ripen, we can find ways to hurry up the process. By placing the avocados into a bag alongside another ripe fruit, the trapped ethylene gas would quicken the ripening process, allowing you to take advantage of your avocado purchase as soon as possible. While placing a fruit with another fruit to ripen it faster sounds like alchemy, it is based on sound scientific principles.

Ripening your avocados

To make your avocado ripen much quicker and in a more controlled manner, buy a bunch of ripe bananas along with your avocado at the grocery store and a paper bag large enough to contain your purchases. Once you are home, place the avocados and one or two ripe bananas into the paper bag. Close the bag, fold the top to loosely seal it, and leave it on the kitchen counter. The avocado should become ripe and ready to eat in a day or two.

To understand why fruits ripen when placed with other fruits, you first need to understand ethylene gas, a natural plant hormone that plays a significant role in the ripening process. Some fruits release more ethylene gas as they ripen, but most fruits release certain levels of the gas during its life. One group of fruits, called climacteric fruits, will ripen faster if exposed to an external source of ethylene. They include tomatoes, bananas, kiwis, apples, and avocados. That is why placing a ripening banana into a bag with avocados works: the avocado will ripen faster due to its exposure to the ethylene gas expelled by the ripe banana, which is then trapped in the paper bag.

Using ripe avocados

Once the avocados have achieved the appropriate level of ripeness after cohabitating with a ripe banana in a paper bag for a couple of days, you can store it in the fridge to slow the ripening process and keep the avocado at its peak for a slightly prolonged time. However, using them as soon as possible is best to capture the best flavor and texture.

There are endless ways to enjoy a perfectly ripe avocado. A classic is a simple but delicious guacamole, made by adding chopped red onions, jalapeno peppers, minced garlic, and lime juice to mashed avocado. Season with salt, pepper, and hot sauce, and garnish with chopped tomato and a drizzle of olive oil. Alternatively, for something different, try making a tuna and avocado tartare. Toss cubed sushi-grade tuna with avocado, shelled edamame, sliced serrano chilis, chopped cilantro, light soy sauce, lime juice, sesame oil, and Japanese chili powder. Serve with fried wonton skins or atop salad greens.