There’s nothing worse than having a meal plan you can’t stick to because of an underripe avocado! It makes me feel so helpless, being at the mercy of the grocery store and their ability to stock ripe avocados. I know it as soon as I walk into the produce section and see those hard, green avocados sitting in the bin. I don’t even need to touch them to know that they’re firm and useless. But, never fear: not all is lost! People ask me all the time how to ripen avocados quickly, and I know a few techniques to make it happen.
When I was working as a restaurant chef, I learned to order avocados a few days before I needed them. Food suppliers always keep their avocados in the refrigerator to preserve their quality. They know that restaurants and grocery stores will reject over-ripened fruit because they’ll go bad before they can be sold! So, suppliers keep their avocados nice and chilled to keep them from ripening. It’s no problem for a grocery store because they can sell underripe avocados, but it’s bad news for a restaurant chef!
I had to learn how to ripen avocados quickly because sometimes I needed them sooner rather than later. There are a few techniques that work, and a few that don’t. Let’s take a look at them one at a time.
Ways That Don’t Work
Okay, let’s get these out of the way first. People might tell you that these techniques work, but these methods only soften the flesh of the avocado, making it appear ripe. Your avocados won’t taste ripe, though, and they certainly won’t have that creamy, nutty flavor we all love. So, just don’t do it!
- Nuking them in the microwave
- Wrapping an avocado in aluminum foil and baking them in a low-temperature oven
Ways That Work
Now that we got those out of the way, let’s talk about how to ripen avocados quickly. Some of these methods take more time than others, so choose the best one to fit your needs.
Technique 1: Store It On The Counter
Storing your underripe avocado on the counter is the best and most natural way to get them to ripen. The room-temperature climate will help the fruit go through its natural ripening process. This is a great method if you have the time, but unfortunately, it’s not great if you need things to happen quickly.
How Long Does It Take: It takes about two to three days to ripen an avocado that’s close, and up to a week for a super hard, underripe avocado.
Technique 2: Put It In a Paper Bag
If you don’t have a lot of time, the paper bag method will ripen your avocado more quickly than the countertop method. Place the avocados in a bag with an apple, a banana, or a kiwi. These fruits produce something called ethylene gas, which is a plant hormone that triggers the ripening process. That gas isn’t good when its contained in your crisper drawer with vegetables that you don’t want to ripen, but it’s perfect for ripening an avocado.
How Long Does It Take: Using this method, your avocado can be ready in one to two days, depending on how hard it was, to begin with.
Technique 3: Bury The Avocado in Flour
This method seems odd, but the flour traps the avocado’s own ethylene gas, forcing the avocado to ripen faster. The way this works best is if you put the avocado and the flour in a paper bag and close it up tight. If you don’t have a paper bag on-hand, you can also wrap it in a newspaper, but it doesn’t quite trap the gas in as effectively.
How Long Does It Take: Just like the paper bag and fruit method, this method takes one to two days to ripen your avocado.
Technique 4: Pickle Them
I would only recommend this method if you absolutely, totally, completely need your avocados to be ready in two hours and you have no other options. DON’T put them in the oven as the internet says. Instead, cut open the avocado, slice the flesh into a few pieces, and place them in a brine of 1 cup white vinegar, 1 cup water, 1/4 cup sugar, and 2 tablespoons of salt. In two hours, they’ll taste ripened.
This method isn’t the best for guacamole, which requires super creamy flesh. But, it’ll work in a pinch for salads and anywhere you would use avocado as a garnish (like taco toppings or this Perfect Avocado and Poached Egg Quinoa Bowl).
How Long Does It Take: In about two hours, your avocado will be ready to eat. It’ll taste slightly tangy, but the flesh will be softened enough to tolerate.
Technique 5: Blend it With Peas
Again, this is not the most ideal method, but it’s the best way to make guacamole from an underripe avocado. Place the avocado in the food processor and add a handful of defrosted frozen peas. Puree the mixture until it’s smooth and creamy. It won’t quite taste like guacamole made from 100 percent ripe avocado, but you’ll certainly add some nutrition to the dish! This method would definitely work for our favorite White Bean Avocado Toast.
How Long Does It Take: No time at all! Simply blend your underripe avocado and hope for the best.
How To Select An Avocado
If you don’t want to worry about how to ripen avocados quickly, choose a ripe avocado instead! Look for an oval-shaped avocado that doesn’t have any bruising or damage. A few cosmetic scrapes or scuffs on the skin is okay. But, loose skin, decay around the stem-end, or portions of the fruit that are softer than others are red-flags that the avocado might be past its prime.
Place the avocado in the palm of your hand and give it a very, very gentle squeeze. If you only use your fingertips to test the avocado or you push too hard, you might end up bruising the avocado, ruining it for the next customer.
You might have to use the techniques above to ripe the avocado quickly, or you can put it in the refrigerator if it’s already ripe. That will slow down the ripening process, which is helpful if you’re not ready to use it for a few days.