Avocado

A 15-Minute Avocado Ripening Hack—& 3 Other Tricks

We tested 'em all. Here's what happened.

September 13, 2019
Photo by James Ransom

In New York City, the perfectly ripe supermarket avocado is a veritable myth, complete with an unlikely origin story (California droughts), many a villain with which to contend (Australian real estate moguls, the threat of tariffs), and a personalized iPhone emoji.

But unlike any sort of storybook character or chimerical creature, the perfectly ripe avocado can actually be conjured at home, with enough foresight.

Short of that, there are some tricks whispered about in far-reaching corners of the internet: things involving paper bags, or ovens. We tested four popular methods—and if you're here now, chances are you don't have much more time to spare. So let's get to it.

Photo by Ella Quittner

Avocado Ripening Method A: Oven

"Can you really ripen an avocado in just 10 minutes?" asked The Kitchn's Kelli Foster back in 2015. Her proposed method: Bake your avo, swaddled in foil, at 200°F for 10 minutes (or more) until it softens. Let cool, unwrap, and slice. Foster's verdict? The texture might be ripe, but the flavor is lacking.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“I buy the avocados rock-solid, leave them out in the kitchen (not in the window) for a couple of days, until the TIP of the avocado starts to give in a bit (not ripe but not rock-solid any more) and the rest of the avocado is still very hard. I then put them in the fruit drawer in the fridge where they finish ripening. The thing here is that in the fridge they get perfectly ripe AND last in this state for a long time. The skin may darken after a few days, but the flesh will remain soft & buttery and not go black and fibrous as it does when you let the avocado out in the open for days and it over-ripens. In this way I can buy a lot of unripe avocados at the same time but eat them perfectly ripe over a week or more. This was a tip from a friend who grows the best tasting avocados in Lima, Peru - palta fuerte - as they are known here. Ask any of the many excellent Peruvian chefs and they will confirm this is the best kind of avocado ever. ”
— pmajluf
Comment

In our test, it only took 15 minutes at 200°F for the avocado to soften to the degree that would have excited us in the wild (as in, a grocery store produce basket) and as a bonus, we felt like we were helping a dinosaur egg to hatch.

The only hitch: the final product was uneven in texture, watery, lacking flavor, and in the words of Senior Editor Eric Kim, the embodiment of "that disappointing feeling you get when you cut an avocado too early." So, kind of a big hitch.

"Do not microwave your avocados or put your avocados in the oven to try to ripen them faster," cautions the California Avocados blog. "If you do, the microwave or oven may soften the flesh of the fruit a little which may make it ‘seem’ ripe, but it isn’t. The avocado will taste unripe and won't have the creaminess or buttery, nutty flavor we all know and love."


Avocado Ripening Method B: Windowsill (36 Hours)

The windowsill—or "classic"—method of avocado ripening proved most effective across our four trials. We placed an unripe avocado in direct sunlight and left it for 36 hours (including overnight, though no lullabies or scary stories were involved).

By the end of its sabbatical, a gentle poke yielded flesh-give like the avocado was a lump of clay. Its flesh was lush and smooth, and by far the ripest (textbook-perfect for guacamole). Given the lack of special equipment and props, we liked this best.

Photo by Ella Quittner

Avocado Ripening Method C: Paper Bag with Ripe Fruit (36 Hours)

"Bananas release ethylene gas, which speed up the ripening process for avocados (and other fruits). Storing the two in close proximity means the ripening is super charged and happens quicker," reports Lifehacker.

Either our banana was a dud, or it needed quite a bit longer to work its magic. After 36 hours of cohabitation in a sealed paper bag, this test avocado had barely ripened from its original state. As Senior Editor Arati Menon noted, "The water content was too high," too. "I’d use C in a dressed salad, maybe," said Kim.


Avocado Ripening Method D: Paper Bag with Flour (36 Hours)

"The flour + paper bag combo works to both concentrate the avocado's own ethylene gas and soak up any residual moisture, keeping the fruit free of mold and from bruising while it ripens," says Thrillist.

In the same time period (36 hours), a sealed paper bag with several inches of all-purpose flour produced a much, much riper specimen than the banana bag (and second only to the windowsill fellow). "It'd be perfect for avocado toast, with salt," says Assistant Editor of Partner Content Erin Alexander.


Did we miss a method? Let us know how you like to ripen your avocados in the comments!
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Ella Quittner

Written by: Ella Quittner

Ella Quittner is a contributing writer and the Absolute Best Tests columnist at Food52. She covers food, travel, wellness, lifestyle, home, novelty snacks, and internet-famous sandwiches. You can follow her on Instagram @equittner, or Twitter at @ellaquittner. She also develops recipes for Food52, and has a soft spot for all pasta, anything spicy, and salty chocolate things.

31 Comments

Susan A. August 1, 2020
Just so you know, overly ripe fruit, including avocados and bananas, contain higher levels of "tyramine"; if you are prone to migraines or headaches caused by hypertension you should avoid eating those fruits.
 
Brendon C. November 4, 2019
I've always been told by my grandmother (who luckily, happens to be Mexican, immigrating here some time in here 30's), the best way to ripen your avocados is to wrap each one in a piece of newspaper. Typically they seem to be perfectly ripened in anywhere between 36-48hrs. Another method I discovered (by chance), is to leave them babies in the clear plastic produce bag from the store (twist tied, or tied shut), and left in a dry, cool, and dark place like the pantry, or a cupboard. Honestly, 24-36hrs with this method gets them avocados nice, supple, delicious, and tasty to eat... At least in my experience.
 
Amy F. November 1, 2019
ripe bananas a brown paper bag make great ripening partner for avos...
 
Vie November 1, 2019
I've often ripened avocados by putting them together inside a container where my rice is stored which was how my grandmother used to do for most fruits that need a little help ripening if we want to keep the natural, nice, juicy taste. Avocados do ripen well with the avocado taste you'd like it to have but it takes about three days. Not a quick fix though. Or just leave avocados in the counter where there's not much encounter with light and let it ripen naturally.
 
Amy F. November 1, 2019
I live in Hawaii where avocados are abundant...plan ahead buy them and let them ripen naturally...BTW "ripening in an oven" is COOKING them!!!
 
Cookie November 1, 2019
You folks should either change the title of this article so that it's not misleading or just take the article OFF the site, Food52 should be above this kind of clickbait BS. Shameful.
 
Jessica L. October 31, 2019
Not impressed that you used the click-bait hack that didn’t work to grab us and then basically tell us nothing new. Disappointed in more of this that I’ve been seeing lately from Food52 :(
 
Tricia November 1, 2019
Must agree. You are too good for click-bait.
 
Wendall October 31, 2019
Soooo... this fifteen minute hack is actually 36 hours....
 
dbh October 31, 2019
Ripe, rather.
 
dbh October 31, 2019
Just sliced large one & not rip. Can you ripen after sliced open?
 
bill October 31, 2019
I always ripen my avocados in a paper bag on my kitchen counter- nothing else added to the bag. Works very well.
 
CM October 31, 2019
Yup. Me, too.
 
ms.brownstein October 31, 2019
I always try to buy rock hard avocados when they are available. However, I have found that putting them in a small paper bag gets them to ripen (with flavor intact) in a couple of days or less. Sometimes it happens overnight.
 
Roberta October 31, 2019
Or (tongue-in-cheek) buy an avocado every-other-day (or every day depending on how much you like your avo) and that way you’re bound to have a perfectly ripe avocado when you need it! The avocado is the most obstinate of all the fruits - they’re not ready until THEY’RE ready!
 
Author Comment
Ella Q. October 31, 2019
I know, right?!
 
Roberta October 31, 2019
Yes! Tee hee hee! My daughter conducted a science experiment using many of these methods & many more......wrapping in foil, baking, paper bags, cling foil, apples, bananas, grilling - you name it. All she really concluded is that leaving an avocado to sit by itself on a bench will cause it to ripen no slower than any of the hacks mentioned. What she did conclude is that avocado’s are stubborn little buggers! 🤣
 
Andrea D. October 31, 2019
Well, i put mine in the dark pantry it takes a couple of days, and voila, RIPE!!
 
Cookie October 26, 2019
I live in what is essentially the avocado capital of the U.S. in southern California. My friends and I are getting a huge kick out of this article and the comments. There is no hack to speeding up ripening of an avocado -- thus the article is misnamed; even the article itself concedes that there no "15 minute" ripening hack. And there is a reason that the "36 hours on the windowsill" (ahem) "hack" works -- that is the NORMAL ripening time for an avocado picked when appropriately ripe. Do not put your avocados in a drawer or in a bag or in a bag full of something else -- those solutions will only damage the fruit. Just leave it out and be patient. If it's not ripe on time for guacamole, go buy hummus...
 
Tony September 19, 2019
Did this guy make pregnant,
Her baby is going to be bold
 
pmajluf September 18, 2019
I buy the avocados rock-solid, leave them out in the kitchen (not in the window) for a couple of days, until the TIP of the avocado starts to give in a bit (not ripe but not rock-solid any more) and the rest of the avocado is still very hard. I then put them in the fruit drawer in the fridge where they finish ripening. The thing here is that in the fridge they get perfectly ripe AND last in this state for a long time. The skin may darken after a few days, but the flesh will remain soft & buttery and not go black and fibrous as it does when you let the avocado out in the open for days and it over-ripens.
In this way I can buy a lot of unripe avocados at the same time but eat them perfectly ripe over a week or more.
This was a tip from a friend who grows the best tasting avocados in Lima, Peru - palta fuerte - as they are known here. Ask any of the many excellent Peruvian chefs and they will confirm this is the best kind of avocado ever.
 
mary October 31, 2019
This is exactly how I do it too. But we eat one every day, so I try to get them at one day apart in ripeness.
 
Kym R. September 17, 2019
The easiest way I've found & they taste tree ripened was to place avocado(s) in a empty plain small brown paper bag, if I have any ripe fruits I'll put a couple in with the avocado(s). It's not completely necessary, but can cut the time to a 3rd.
Roll down the top to halfway or so then place the bag in direct sunlight. Let them stay there anywhere from an hour to 4hours. I've also doubled up the paper bags or put the paper bag into a plastic bag then in direct sun. It's not a 15min hack but beats 36hours. The hotter the outside temp is the less it takes.
 
S September 16, 2019
I simply place my avocados on a plate with a lemon and or lime and garlic. They ripen extremely fast!
 
Jan S. September 15, 2019
Easiest way to ripen a. Avacado is to put it in a drawer where it's dark and within 24 hours it's right I do this all the time