Avocados have become the go-to superfood for millennials for the past few years. We all have encountered that trendy café that offers avocado on toast for a mere $12. The average price of a Hass avocado in the US doubled in one year to $2.10 at one point in 2019.
However, the avocado is actually a pretty lowly fruit within the Latin American countries and is pretty cheap, over there it’s eaten by miners and blue-collar workers for a protein and nutrition-rich breakfast.
One of the biggest issues we encounter with avocados in the modern kitchen, beyond their inflated price, is how to figure out when they are ripe. Waiting for an unripe avocado to ripen can take a little patience that we don’t all possess, and sometimes we want the flesh right now.
So in this guide, we have gone through how to tell when an avocado is ripe
How Do You Know When an Avocado is Ripe?
Texture and firmness is the best judge of when an avocado is right. If you gently press your finger to the thinner part of the avocado near the stem there should be some decent give when you apply pressure. We’re not looking for a dent here, just that the avocado’s flesh will conform to the pressure you have applied.
Try not to do this to the flesh around the stone as it will bruise pretty easily.
Moreover, you can use your eyes. The color of an avocado should reveal its ripeness during the beginning of the process. The avocado will be green when it is really ripe, and blacken as it becomes ripe. However, a black avocado could still be too firm for your desired use. So this only really works at the start.
How Does Fruit Ripen?
If we understand the botanical process that makes fruit ripe then we can understand how to ripen fruit ourselves using unnatural means.
The main way that fruit ripens is due to a plant hormone called ethylene gas which is released after a plant is harvested. Scentless and invisible, this gas regulates the speed at which a fruit will ripen. Some fruits have more ethylene gas present in them than others.
So essentially if you can control the ethylene gas,you can control the speed at which an avocado will ripen.
Methods to Speed Up Ripening
Ethylene gas can be contained within certain materials, one of these materials is paper. Place your avocados (this becomes more effective the more avocados you add), in a paper bag and leave them without opening the bag.
As the gas is contained within the bag rather than going straight into the air this will lead the avocados to ripen faster.
Add extra fruits
As mentioned, some fruits have more ethylene gas present in them than others. One fruit that we will commonly have laying around our fruit bowl, that has a large amount of ethylene gas present, is the banana.
Throw a banana in with your avocados (or another fruit with high amounts of ethylene gas, such as an apple) and your avocados should ripen even quicker.
Even if you just left your avocados in the fruit bowl with other fruits it would ripen faster than if it was on its own.
Add flour to the bag
Sounds weird, but bear with us. Flour will naturally drain moisture from the fruit as it ripens. This, along with the trapped ethylene will help ripen your avocados super quick.
Simply add an inch of flour to the bottom of the bag and place the avocados (and potential other fruit) on top.
Even in a bag with flour and other fruits, your avocado will still take around 3 days to fully ripen, depending on how ripe it was before you put it in the bag, but there are some more ‘out there methods to ripen avocados in minutes.
Increase the temperature
While most storage instructions instruct you to store fruit and veg in a ‘cool and dry space’ this isn’t necessarily the most optimal condition for ripening.
Studies suggest that temperatures between 57 – 86 degrees celsius could increase the rate of ripening. Other studies suggest that this is because the rate of ethylene production is shown to increase with an increase in temperature.
So, the warmer the area you keep your fruit to ripen will ultimately increase the rate of ripening by a decent amount.
Ripen in the microwave
Again, hold your horses, this sounds stupid but there is science behind it.
If there was a way to trap the ethylene gas directly on top of the flesh of fruit it would definitely ripen this flesh pretty quick. Moreover, blasting the fruit with high heat for a short period of time will increase the ethylene production.
Let’s preface this by saying this is the last resort, the avocado will be edible but be prepared for some weird smells and texture – this won’t give you great quality avocado flesh, but you better be sure it will be soft and ripe.
- Simply cut the avocado into halves and remove the pit.
- Separately wrap each half in plastic wrap
- Cook on 30-second intervals until your desired ripening is achieved.
- Peel the skin and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to recover some texture.
The effect of this is that the ethylene gas is being trapped and heated right next to the flesh so it will rapidly soften the flesh with the now concentrated gas. Although you are pressing fast forward on days of complex plant mechanisms that lead to a plant being ripe, so don’t expect quality from this specific method.
Our Final Say
We love avocados. We love avocados so much that we have the patience to plan ahead so that our avocados are ripe for when we want to use them. While these methods do work, we’d suggest buying avocados in advance and letting them ripen naturally as mother nature intended.
Buy a few avocados and just leave them in your fruit bowl, by the time you want to use some for guac or breakfast, you should have ripe avocados by then. In the worst-case scenario that you are given a last-minute invite to a Mexican Cinco De Mayo party and you need some guac to bring, just throw your avocados in a bag a few days before and you should be fine.