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Are We There Yet? Fruit and Vegetable Ripening Hacks

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November 28, 2016

You promised friends and family a fiesta. You’ve scrubbed the kitchen, crafted your décor, and bought fresh avocados from the grocery store to mash into a big bowl of guacamole. You’re ready to get this party started — but your avocados are hard as rocks! Don’t despair. These hacks can help you ripen avocados in a pinch.

 

First, though, how do you know when your avocado is good and ready to roll?

 

How to Tell if an Avocado Is Ripe

Ripe avocados are typically dark green to dark purple and yield to gentle pressure. So, go ahead and give your avocado a lil’ hug to see if it’s ready. And remember,

 

The Tried-and-True Paper Bag Trick

The avos out of the bag — err, in the bag, actually! Placing an avocado in a paper bag with a banana is the quickest way to ripen it. Loosely close the bag and store it in a dry place and wait (undeniably, the hardest part). Check daily for progress.

How does this work? Bananas give off the natural plant hormone ethylene gas, which helps ripen fruits. The paper bag traps the gas; it stays in contact with the fruit and speeds up the process. Some people punch holes in the bag to let oxygen in, which helps the process along. The more brown spots on your banana, the more effective the gas will be. No bananas on hand? An apple will suffice, though its ethylene production won’t be quite as potent.

This method works well not only for quickening the maturation of avocados but also with stone fruits such as plums and peaches, pears, mangos, and tomatoes. Unfortunately, other kinds of fruit, such as berries, apples, grapes, or citrus, cannot be effectively ripened at home.

Rice to Ripe

This strategy also makes use of ethylene gas, only the ethylene gas is released from the avocado itself. Here’s how to ripen avocados:

Put any kind of uncooked rice into a container large enough to accommodate your avocado, which you’ll then cover with even more rice. You’ve successfully built an ethylene gas trap and just need to wait for it to work its magic. Check every couple of days or so — this method takes a little longer than the paper bag to achieve ripeness perfection.

 

Can I Ripen Avocados in the Microwave?

Not recommended. Microwaves are powerful appliances, and while nuking avocados will soften them, it won’t provide the delicate, creamy taste only a natural ripening process can deliver. You don’t want to zap the delicate flavoring out of your avocado!

 

Sunshine

Have you noticed a pattern here? Nature is your best asset when it comes to ripening avocados. Warmer temperatures ripen fruits faster, so moving your unripe avocados to your windowsill or another sunny spot of your home will speed things along. A little sunbathing may be all your avocado needs to become a big softie!

 

The Cotton Cloth Method

The cotton cloth method is ideal for soft-skinned fruit, but will gently push avocados toward ripening, too. All you need is clean linen napkins or tea towels (terry cloth won’t work here). Put the cloth on a flat surface and place your avocados on top. You don’t want to crowd them, so space them out to let them breathe. Then, cover the fruit with another piece of cloth. Keep checking back every day or so.

 

How to Ripen an Avocado After Cutting It Open

The avocado seems ripe, but when you carefully cut the avocado around the pit and twist it open … the flesh is nowhere near ready. Don’t toss your avocado into the trash! There’s time to remedy the situation.

First, rub the flesh of the avocado with lemon or lime juice, or spray lightly with cooking oil. Put the avocado halves back together and squeeze tight so no air can oxidate the flesh. Then, wrap the avocado in plastic wrap and place in the fridge. Give it a little squeeze every day to check on its ripening progress.

 

Hold Up! How to Slow Down Ripening

Let’s say you have the opposite problem: Your avocado is as stoked as you are to make a big batch of guacamole … days before the party! Don’t worry. You can slow down the avocado ripening process to line up with your big day. Let your avocado chill in the fridge for two to three days before guac time.

What will you make with your perfectly ripe avocado? Browse hundreds of delicious dishes in our avocado recipe archives.

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