Hard avocados? Here's the best way to speed up the ripening process

If you, like us, find yourself Google-searching "how to ripen an avocado RIGHT THIS VERY INSTANT" on a regular basis, we're here to help.

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In an ideal world, we'd plan appropriately for an avocado-heavy salad or a Buddha bowl with perfectly creamy avo slices on top. We'd pick up some green, rock-hard underripe avocados at the store about a week out, then let them hang out on the counter and take their sweet time getting ripe. But that isn't how life works — we can rarely predict when a guacamole craving is going to hit, and, even if we can make it to the store, the odds that there's a just-soft-enough-but-not-mushy fruit waiting for us are slim.

There are a ton of potential solutions out there, like baking your avocado in the oven, to make it ripe in a matter of minutes — sounds too good to be true, right? Well, it probably is.

We tested the four most legit-sounding tricks to speed up the ripening process, and found what works the best. Thanks, science.

METHOD #1: ON THE COUNTER

This is probably the most likely place to store an avocado in order to ripen it, since the cold air in your fridge definitely delays ripening. But if you're trying to ripen an avo on the counter, you'll be waiting awhile.

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Result: My green, rock-hard, dinosaur-egg-like avocado took a full week to become ripe enough to eat.

METHOD #2: IN A PAPER BAG

The gaseous plant hormone ethylene released by fruit (including avocados) triggers the ripening process, so the best way to speed up the process is by trapping the fruit in a container with its own ethylene to concentrate the exposure. A paper bag is a great option since it traps ethylene while still allowing the fruit to "breathe," preventing any unwanted bacterial growth.

Result: With this trick, my avocado was perfectly ripe in 4 days, shaving 3 days off the ripening time on the counter.

METHOD #3: PUT A BANANA IN THE BAG

There's a theory that if you want to double down on ethylene, you can add a banana or an apple to the paper bag along with the avocado. These fruits release ethylene too, so the paper bag would, theoretically, be as full of ethylene as possible, encouraging faster ripening in both fruits.

Result: When I tried it, the avocado ripened at almost the same rate as the fruit-less paper bag method, and was edible in 4 days. Meh.

METHOD #4: PUT FLOUR IN THE BAG

People have also tried adding flour to the bag, which, in theory, helps to concentrate and hang on to the ethylene being released by the fruit.

Result: We can't vouch for this one either — it took just as long for the avocado to ripen as the paper bag and the paper bag with banana.

In short: the humble paper bag, and the paper bag alone, is the answer. Yeah, yeah, this isn't the fastest solution. You can't take an avocado from rock-like to creamy and dreamy in a matter of minutes — sometimes there's no getting around nature. With this trick, though, your avocado's ripening period can be cut nearly in half — so instead of waiting a week to cut one open, you can do it in just a few days.

Once your avo is finally ripe, it's time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. This dip with avocado, scallions, and Greek yogurt gives guac a serious run for its money.

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