The Avocado Ripening Hacks You Shouldn't Trust

The memes write themselves when it comes to avocados' fickleness. We've all been there. You have a pile of rock-hard dark green orbs one day, then you turn your head for a minute and suddenly have overripe, rotten avocados that's too brown to use. No matter how you time it, it feels like a constant dance to get your avocado ripeness just right. Despite their finicky nature, there's nothing quite as delicious as a chunky guacamole or schmear for your morning toast. 


Avocados aren't exactly the most affordable item at the grocery store, so it can devastating to see them get too soft before you can use them. But it's even more frustrating when you're trying to make guacamole for taco Tuesday and they're still firm. If you know you'll need avocados sooner than they'd naturally be ripe, there are a few tried and true tricks for speeding up their transformation. 

The basic mechanism of avocado ripening has to do with ethylene gas, a naturally occurring plant hormone that controls the process. It is possible to manipulate this gas and lessen the wait time until you can slice into your avocado. But not all tips are backed up with strong evidence. Here's how to separate fact from fiction.


Skip the brown bag with flour or rice

To be sure, if your avocados are way underripe and you need them in a few hours, you're better off running to the store for some riper ones. But if you have some time, a lot can be done overnight or in even half a day.


One common method you may see praised online is to toss your unripe avocados in a brown bag with some rice or flour. While the brown bag part of the tip is indeed good advice, you might want to save your dry goods for more useful purposes. 

The idea is that by adding your avocado to a brown bag and folding it up, you essentially trap the gas and the surrounding the avocados with it, thus hastening up ripening. However, nestling it in flour or rice won't do much to shave off any time, as they don't contribute any extra ethylene. You're better off adding fruit like a banana or apple into the bag with the avocado, which will supercharge the space as they emit extra gas. 

Keep avocados out of the microwave

A microwave can do a lot of kitchen magic, but it's best to leave it far, far away from its rays. Online foodies have claimed it's a quick way to soften up avocados, but it just heats the avocado, thereby downgrading its texture and taste. While the avocado will be easier to work with, microwaving only cooks the flesh, so don't expect it to taste as it would when truly ripe. 


A much more impactful way to harness heat to speed things along is to set your too-hard-fruit on a windowsill, where it will absorb sunlight, which turns it buttery soft. An easier option is to let them sit out on your countertop — no extra steps required. When you keep them at room temperature, they'll ripen all on their own, as opposed to keeping them refrigerated, which essentially slows down the timeline.

Once your avocados have reached the perfect consistency for mashing and smashing, cubing and slicing, be sure to use the right tools — don't slice with a metal knife — use ceramic or plastic instead to keep them gorgeously green for as long as possible.