How to Ripen Avocados Fast

Whatever you do, don’t microwave them.

March 15, 2022

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Fresh avocado on cutting board over wooden background

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Fresh avocado on cutting board over wooden background

Photo by: tashka2000

tashka2000

By Heath Goldman for Food Network Kitchen

Heath Goldman is a culinary editor at Food Network.

Presenting a week in the life of an avocado, a dramatic short: Day 1: unripe; Day 2: unripe; Day 3: unripe; Day 4: unripe; Day 5: ripe!!!!!; Day 6: ripe but slightly mushy?; Day 7: haha, too ripe!

We joke, but in all seriousness, the window of perfect ripeness seems fleeting at best. That's why we're here to bring you all of the tips around ripening and extending the ripeness of avocados, starting with how to pick out a ripe avocado in the first place. And if you need tips on prepping your avocados, head over to our guide How to Cut an Avocado.

Stock photo of avocado out of paper bagSerie:

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Stock photo of avocado out of paper bagSerie:

Photo by: onebluelight ©onebluelight

onebluelight, onebluelight

How to Tell If an Avocado Is Ripe

The Squeeze Test

To see if an avocado is ripe, gently squeeze it. Surprise: The proper way to feel for ripeness is to gently squeeze an avocado with the palm of your hand – not your fingers! If it easily yields, it’s ripe and ready to eat.

Avoid avocados with loose-feeling skin, dents or portions that feel softer than the rest of the avocado. These bruises are typically caused by shoppers squeezing avocados with their fingertips.

The Color Test

Another sign is color: ripe avocados typically – but not always – darken from green to green-black when ready to eat.

How to Soften Avocado

1. Select the Best Avocados in the Supermarket

Look for avocados that feel heavy for their size, with skin that’s dark with a hint of green.

2. Determine How Quickly You Want to Ripen the Avocados

Okay, you could only find rock-hard, unripe avocados at the supermarket. Sorry to break the bad news, but eating them for dinner tonight is out of the question. Internet hacks, like microwaving an avocado to instantly ripen it, are simply smoke and mirrors. (Heating up an avocado may soften it, but won’t impart ripe, buttery flavor.) So your next step is determine whether your goal is to eat them as quickly as possible – tomorrow or the next day – or in time for taco night at the end of the week.

3. Store Unripe Avocados on the Counter, Not In the Refrigerator

In nature, avocados begin ripening when they fall from the tree onto the ground — at room temperature. Storing avocados in the refrigerator slows down ripening, and can even halt the ripening process permanently.

4. For the Fastest Results, Stash the Avocados In a Paper Bag with Fruit

Time for a cool science lesson. Avocados — and apples and kiwis — produce a plant hormone called ethylene which triggers fruit ripening. Ethylene is actually used commercially as a natural and effective way to ripen all sorts of other produce. You can harness its powers at home by putting your avocados in a paper bag and rolling up the top to seal it. The paper bag will trap the ethylene close around the avocados and — bingo — speed up ripening. For an extra dose of ripening power, add an apple or kiwi (or both).

How Long Do Avocados Last?

A perfectly ripe avocado will remain in this pristine state for 2 to 3 days, if held at room temperature.

You can hold ripe avocados for longer in the refrigerator, where they'll last for up to 5 days. The cool temperatures will preserve them at peak ripeness.

Once you cut into an avocado, the leftover halves will last 3 to 4 days in the fridge. Check out our list of best avocado keepers to keep your leftovers pristine.

How to Tell If an Avocado Is Bad

Visible Sunken Areas

If an avocado squishes down very easily when you squeeze it, chances are it's overripe. Visible sunken areas or the feeling that the skin is looser than the flesh are also tell-tale signs.

Brown Flesh

If you cut open an avocado and the flesh has started turning brown, it's time to toss.

Sour Smell

Ripe avocados smell slightly sweet and buttery. If you cut open an avocado and the smell seems bitter or off, you should toss it.

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