5 Ways to Ripen An Avocado

by Erika Owen

You know when you pick up an avocado from your produce bowl and you're all ready to make some fresh guacamole or add some avocado slices to your breakfast sandwich, only to find the offending item is rock hard, with no give whatsoever? And you wonder "how do I ripen an avocado IMMEDIATELY?" so that your lunch is still worth eating?

Ladies and gentleman, it's food hack time. Last week, I tested out the "scientific" way to cut a cake and, lo and behold, it worked. It may have been a leftover fondant cake from Mother's Day, but that's even more proof that the method must work wonders, right? This time around, I took on five different ways to ripen an avocado: direct sunlight, in a brown paper bag with an apple, in a brown paper bag with flour, a few seconds in the microwave, and the good old refrigerator approach. Oh, and that one that directs you to lick the avocado twice, turn in four counterclockwise circles, balance it on your forehead and...just kidding.

Read on and learn, avocado fans. I made sure to organize these from worst, "don't ever, ever do this!" to "life-changing."

1. Don't Do It: Microwave

It sounds like a bad idea and it most certainly is. While the microwave is great for a massive number of things, ripening an avocado is not one of them. I read that 30 seconds to one minute is recommended, so I tossed mine in for 48 seconds (after checking at the 30 second mark) and I had a steaming hot fruit that was oozing a strange murky liquid. Not to mention it smelled up my entire apartment with an odd, rotten stench. Don't do this. I couldn't even bring myself to taste it. Here's photo evidence:

2. Guacamole-Worthy: Direct Sunlight

Rumor has it that it'll take anywhere from three to five days to ripen an avocado front-in-center on your windowsill. You can ripen the fruit on your counter away from the heat, but apparently the sunlight is supposed to have some kind of magical tasting power. I let my avocado sit for three days in the sunniest spot of my modest studio and it worked pretty well. In terms of softness, it turned out a little mushier than I would have liked. But once I cut into it, a beautiful green fruit revealed itself. I would say this method would work great if you're looking to make guacamole, though it does require some patience.

3. Patience is a Virtue: Brown Paper Bag + Apple

We've all done this experiment way back in elementary school science class. Put a fruit in a paper bag and it will magically ripen quicker than outside of the bag! (I expect all of you to be cooing over this scientific discovery right now.) What really happens is that the paper bag traps the ethylene gas that's produced by the fruit during its ripening process. If you put the fruit you want ripened in a paper bag with another fruit that gives off the gas, it'll ripen even quicker. After two days in the apple bag, my avocado came out a little harder than expected — which makes sense considering it was rock hard when I bought it. I would definitely recommend giving yours a little extra time.

4. Fresh, Soft, and Red (?): Refrigerator

I kept my avocado in the refrigerator for two days (the recommended time being two to three days) and it came out with a slight reddish tint on the inside. This is most likely from the pit, which produces an organic, bitter liquid that's also coincidentally used in leather production and ink manufacture. Had I known this before taking a bite, might have changed my opinion. But it passed the taste and soft squeeze test and was a great compliment to the sad salad I had for dinner that night.

5. Drop Everything You're Doing: Brown Paper Bag + Flour

Going into this, I laughed at the bag + flour method. That's got to be a joke, right? Not even. I have never seen such a perfect avocado. To repeat this act of perfection, get paper bag and add enough flour at the bottom to fill the bag up about two inches. Place your avocado inside, and let it sit for two days in a dry spot — make sure to roll the opening of the bag shut. Some similar methods suggest completely covering the fruit in flour, but I didn't have any issues when skimping on the powdery stuff. I beg you all to give this a try sometime.

Look at that beauty!

Image: Simple Provisions/Flickr