How to Make Avocados Ripen Faster Using This Easy Trick

When the guac craving calls, you'll be ready.

A slices avocado on a textured wooden surface
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Cutting open a perfectly soft, vibrant green avocado feels somewhat like winning the lottery; because let's be honest, it's a pretty rare occurrence. If you're someone who frequently buys avocados from the market, you're already familiar with the song-and-dance that comes with waiting for them to ripen. Typically, it takes a few days for them to soften when stored on your countertop—but if you miss the window—they'll become brown and mushy.

While proper planning is always the best approach, it's not always realistic when you need an avocado on the fly (emergency guacamole, anyone?). Luckily, there's an easy trick for making avocados ripen faster, and all you need is a brown paper bag.

Paper Bag Method

If you haven't tried expediting the ripening process before, prepare to have your mind blown. About two days before you want to enjoy an avocado, simply place it in a brown paper bag and fold the top over. Leave it on your countertop or in the pantry and let it do its thing. This method also comes in handy for other fruits, such as peaches, mangoes, plums, or tomatoes. Just note that this trick only works with a brown paper bag, since plastic bags will trap moisture and result in mold.

Bag It With Fruit

For a slight variation on the above trick, place your avocado in a paper bag with a banana or apple and fold to close. Store it in a warm environment until the skin turns a darker green and yields to gentle pressure, which usually takes one to three days.

Alternatively, if you don't have any other fruit on hand, you can place the avocado in a bag of uncooked rice and fold to close. Again, store it in a warm environment until the skin turns a darker green and yields to gentle pressure.

So why does the paper bag trick work? Ripening is the result of fruit releasing a gas called ethylene, which effectively starts the process of decay. It's caused by the breakdown of cell walls, conversion of starches to sugars, and the disappearance of acids in a piece of produce. All of these processes make a peach, pear, or avocado more palatable—it'll feel softer and taste sweeter with less acid, starch, and softer cell walls—only up to a point (when it gets rotten). Because ethylene gas diffuses easily, it can travel within the plant from cell to cell and to neighboring plants. It's also triggered by heat. Placing an avocado in a paper bag allows the ethylene to get to work.

How to Slow Down Avocado Ripening

On the flip side, if you're hoping to serve dinner guests guacamole a few days from now and you've found yourself with an avocado that's almost too soft, there's a super simple way to slow the ripening down. Simply place your ripe fruit in the fridge. The cooler temperature will slow the effects of ethylene gas.

The main takeaway here is to plan ahead. When you're in the grocery store, think about when you'd like to enjoy your avocado. If it's soon, opt for a darker skinned avocado that has a slight softness and is ready to be eaten. If you have a few days before you'll be serving it, go ahead and grab a firmer avocado with a greener skin. And if you don't have a brown paper bag but still want to speed up the ripening process a bit, place the avocados on the counter with direct sunlight.

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