If you have just bought avocados and find that they are still hard and unripe, don’t worry – there are several tricks you can use to help ripen them up quickly and deliciously. Avocados typically take between 3 to 5 days to fully ripen after being picked from the tree. While you can wait for them to ripen naturally, there are ways to speed up the process if you want to enjoy these nutritional powerhouses sooner.
How can I tell if my avocados are unripe?
The best way is to gently press the fruit near the stem area. If the avocado feels very firm and does not indent when pressed, it is unripe and not yet ready to eat. An unripe avocado will also feel heavy for its size. The skin will most likely be thick and dark green in color.
Why do some avocados stay hard and never ripen?
There are a few reasons why some avocados stubbornly stay hard and never seem to ripen:
- They were picked too early – Avocados picked before they are mature on the tree will have trouble ripening later on.
- Cold storage temperatures – If stored below 50°F, the ripening process slows down significantly.
- Not enough ethylene gas – Avocados naturally produce ethylene gas to ripen themselves, but sometimes not enough is present to complete the process.
- Lack of ripening triggers – Avocados often won’t start ripening on their own without exposure to ethylene gas, ripening fruit like bananas, or warmth.
- Older fruit – As avocados age and pass their prime, their ability to ripen decreases.
What should I do if my avocados are still hard after purchasing?
If your avocados are still firm after bringing them home from the store, don’t discard them just yet! There are several effective methods you can use to ripen them up in a few days:
- Leave them at room temperature – Allowing avocados to sit on the kitchen counter for 2-4 days encourages natural ripening.
- Place them in a paper bag – The bag traps the ethylene gas released as fruit ripens, concentrating it around the avocado.
- Use the banana trick – Placing avocados in a bag with other ripe fruit like bananas or apples will expose them to ethylene gas.
- Try a ripening agent – Products like ethylene discs or sprays containing plant hormones can quickly ripen firm avocados.
- Apply gentle heat – Placing hard avocados by a window in the sun or in a bowl of warm water for 15-20 minutes helps speed ripening.
How long does it take avocados to ripen?
On average, firm, unripe avocados will ripen in:
- 3 to 5 days at room temperature (65°F – 75°F).
- 5 to 7 days if refrigerated when firm. Allow 2-3 days at room temperature after removing from fridge.
- 2 to 3 days in a paper bag with bananas or other ripening fruit.
- 1 to 2 days with a commercial ethylene ripening agent.
- 12 to 24 hours using gentle heat from the sun or warm water method.
The exact time depends on the maturity of the fruit when purchased, storage temperatures and exposure to ethylene gas. Ripe avocados will feel slightly soft when gently squeezed.
How can I speed up the ripening process?
If you need ripe avocados ASAP, here are 5 simple tips to accelerate the ripening process:
- Place hard avocados in a paper bag by themselves or with other ripening fruit. Fold the top over loosely.
- Add an ethylene ripening agent like a banana or tomato to the bag.
- Store the bag at room temperature, 65°F to 75°F is optimal.
- Gently massage the avocados twice a day to distribute the ethylene gas.
- Allow 2-4 days for full ripening, checking daily by squeezing gently.
What are the best ways to ripen avocados faster?
If you need ripe avocados for tonight’s dinner or tomorrow’s breakfast, the most effective methods are:
Paper Bag Method
Placing hard avocados in a perforated paper bag by themselves or with bananas, apples or tomatoes will ripen them in 2-4 days. The fruits release ethylene gas that accumulates in the bag and speeds ripening. Gently roll the bag daily to distribute gas.
Ethylene Ripening Agents
Products like ethylene discs or sprays containing plant hormones will expose avocados to concentrated ethylene and ripen them within 1-3 days. Follow instructions for amount needed.
Warm Water Bath
Soaking firm avocados for 15-20 minutes in warm water of 85°-95°F will raise their core temperature and ripen them rapidly in about 24 hours. Allow to fully cool before refrigerating if needed.
Placing hard avocados in a sunny window or outdoor location will trap radiant heat and naturally quicken the ripening process in about 1-2 days.
Can you ripen avocados in the refrigerator?
You can ripen avocados in the refrigerator but it will take much longer. The cold temperatures of the fridge slow down the natural enzymatic process of ripening fruit. If you need to ripen avocados quickly, it’s better to use room temperature methods. However, firm avocados can be ripened in the fridge in 5-7 days. Allow 2-3 days at room temp after removing.
How to store ripe avocados to stop ripening
Once avocados have reached the desired ripeness for eating, you’ll want to slow down or halt the ripening process. Here are some tips:
- Store ripe avocados in the refrigerator. The cold will significantly decelerate ripening.
- Leave the pit in the avocado when refrigerating. The pit helps preserve freshness.
- Press plastic wrap directly on the exposed avocado flesh before refrigerating to prevent oxidation.
- Use ripe fruit within 2-3 days for best quality and flavor.
- Avoid freezing avocados as this will quickly deteriorate texture and taste.
How can you tell when avocados are ripe and ready to eat?
Here are a few ways to identify perfectly ripened avocados ready for eating:
- Gently press the fruit near the stem area and it should indent slightly but not be mushy.
- Lift up and the avocado should feel heavy for its size.
- The skin will be dark green or brownish in color versus bright green when unripe.
- Rub the stem area with your thumb and it should come off easily.
- Unripe fruit does not separate from the pit easily but ripe fruit comes off without resistance.
- The flesh is creamy greenish-yellow in color versus pale green when unripe.
If the fruit yields to gentle pressure, comes off the pit easily and has rich creamy flesh, your avocados are perfectly ripe for eating!
What are some uses for ripe avocados?
Ripe, ready to eat avocados are incredibly versatile in recipes. Here are just some of the many ways to enjoy their velvety richness:
- Avocado toast
- Avocado salad
- Ice cream
- Dips like salsa
- Sandwiches and wraps
- On top of burgers or egg dishes
- In soups
- Baked into desserts like brownies
Ripe avocados can be enjoyed both raw and cooked to add their signature creaminess to sweet and savory dishes. They make an excellent topping, alternative to mayo or replacement for fats in baking. So grab those perfectly ripened avocados and get creative in the kitchen!
What if my avocados ripened too fast and are past ripe?
If you’ve left your avocados to ripen for too long and they are very soft or squishy, don’t toss them out just yet! You still have options to use them up.
Past ripe or overripe avocados can be:
- Made into guacamole or avocado dip – the lemon juice will help slow oxidation.
- Blended into smoothies – frozen fruit will balance the texture.
- Baked into muffins, cookies or brownies – the oils keep things moist.
- Whipped into pudding or ice cream – the creaminess shines here.
- Pureed or mashed then frozen for later use.
If the flesh is very brown, tastes bitter or smells unpleasant, it’s best to discard. But with minimal discoloration or damage, ripe fast avocados can still be enjoyed!
Don’t let hard, unripe avocados discourage you. With some patience and a few simple tricks, you can ripen them up in just a few days for ultimate creaminess. Leave them on the counter, place in a paper bag, or use ethylene gas from other fruit to hasten the natural process. Knowing what to look for and how to slow ripening ensures you can enjoy perfect avocados anytime. Turn those rock hard hass into guacamole gold with these avocado ripening tips!