Kitchen Hacks

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.

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Top Comment:
“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. ”
— Kym R.
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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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • pmajluf
    pmajluf
  • Kym Rampton
    Kym Rampton
  • S
    S
  • Jan Schmidt Spagnolo
    Jan Schmidt Spagnolo
  • De'Pemblin
    De'Pemblin
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Ella Quittner

Written by: Ella Quittner

Ella Quittner is a a writer 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.

11 Comments

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.
 
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
 
De'Pemblin September 15, 2019
To ripen Avocados put it inside raw rice(ensure to cover it with raw rice) and let it rest for a week and it will ripen on its own naturally.
 
Veevee September 18, 2019
A WEEK???? Well yeah!!!
 
Jennifer F. September 14, 2019
I at least expected a review of https://www.theavocadosock.com/
 
mgn99 September 14, 2019
The title of this article promises a 15 min hack... which it turns out you don't at all recommend. Click bait is disheartening.
 
Girlfromipanema September 15, 2019
Clickbait indeed. 36 hours of ripening is not a hack.
 
Veevee September 18, 2019
Absolutely. Very misleading.
 
Lolabell September 13, 2019
Wrap them in a dish towel and put them in a drawer. Perfect ripening, usually within 24 hours.