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When we’re craving guacamole, we need it ASAP. But making homemade guacamole actually requires a bit of planning—the avocados need to be just ripe enough to mash, but not too ripe where they become mushy and brown. It sounds daunting, but don’t let that stop you from making the popular party dip or adding fresh avocado to your breakfast sandwich. Even if it seems like every time you go to the grocery store, there’s only a pile of rock-hard avocados to choose from, there are ways to transform the unripe fruit (yes, it’s a fruit) into perfectly creamy avocados. These tricks for how to ripen an avocado will come in handy whenever your craving for guacamole hits. You’ll never have to guess if an avocado is ripe enough to slice or dread opening an overly mushy avocado again.
The best way to ripen an avocado is to let it happen naturally. But if you’re about to make a recipe that calls for avocados—whether it’s a topping for loaded nachos, avocado toast, or a tasty taco salad—you can’t just sit around and wait for nature to take its course. That’s when you need these quick tricks for ripening an avocado. Some take just a couple of minutes, while others take a couple of days. It just depends on how quickly you need to get that guacamole on the table. No matter which method you choose, here’s everything you need to know about how to ripen an avocado.
How can you tell if an avocado is ripe?
Picking the perfect, ready-to-eat avocado can sometimes feel like a mystery, but it doesn’t have to be! When it comes to avocados, look out for the firmness and color as indicators of ripeness. Ripe avocados will feel firm, with a slight give when squeezed, and will typically be very dark green in color. If it looks black and mushy, the avocado is past its prime. On the other hand, if it’s bright green and very hard, the avocado is underripe and can still be used with one of the tricks below.
4 Ways to Ripen an Avocado:
1. On the counter:
The best way to ripen an avocado is by letting it happen naturally. Set the avocado in a bowl in a sunny spot on your kitchen counter. The warmth from the sun will also help the avocado ripen faster. Depending on how ripe your avocado was when you bought it, this could take a few days.
2. In a paper bag:
To speed up the ripening process, place the avocados in a paper bag. This process is similar to how you ripen bananas. Certain fruits, like bananas and avocados, produce ethylene gas which causes them to soften after they’re harvested. When avocados are placed in a paper bag, the gas becomes trapped which speeds up the ripening process. You can expect ripe avocados in 3 to 4 days (or less!)—keep an eye out every day.
3. Paired with other fruit:
Here’s another paper bag trick. Place the avocados in a paper bag with other fruits that also produce natural gases, like apples or bananas. The gases will concentrate and help your avocados become softer, faster. This can happen in as quickly as 1 to 2 days.
4. In a bowl of rice:
Submerge your avocados in a bowl of uncooked rice. The rice will trap the ethylene gas and help ripen the avocados in just a few days. The rice also acts as a barrier against moisture.
How do you ripen avocados in 10 minutes?
If you simply can’t wait any longer, you can try ripening your avocado in the oven. This method will heat the avocado to slightly soften it. While it won’t produce the best tasting, silky-smooth avocado we know and love, it’ll do the trick when you’re in a pinch. Preheat the oven to 200˚, wrap the avocado in foil, and place it on a baking sheet. Depending on how hard your avocado is, it can take about 10 minutes (or longer) to soften. Allow the avocado to cool, then place in the refrigerator to cool completely before using.
Can you ripen an avocado in the microwave?
While some claim a microwave works even faster than the oven, we don’t suggest ripening an avocado this way. It will actually cause the avocado to smell bad and turn mushy quickly—and ruining a perfectly good avocado like that just feels wrong (even if it’s unripe).
How do you store an avocado?
If your avocado is the perfect ripeness, but you’re not quite ready to use it, you can always store the avocado in the refrigerator. The chill from the fridge will allow you to hold on to the avocados for a few extra days. If you’ve already cut into the avocado, prevent it from turning brown by leaving the pit in, squeezing it with lemon juice, and covering it with plastic wrap. Or, invest in a handy silicone food saver. You don’t want to let that ripe avocado go to waste!