We've all been there: The supermarket only has hard, unripe avocados but you're craving guacamole or avocado toast NOW. The internet claims that instant gratification can be yours if you simply wrap an unripe avocado in foil and put it in a preheated 200 degree oven for 10 minutes. Presto: ripe avocado.
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I was skeptical. I imagined warm, mushy, baked avocado. But there did seem to be good reasoning behind the technique: Fruits like avocados and bananas release ethylene gas as they ripen, and the presence of the gas speeds ripening. (That's why putting a ripe banana in a bag with an unripe avocado will ripen the avocado in a day or so.) Apparently when you wrap the fruit in foil and warm it, the avocado releases ethylene, the gas is trapped under the foil, and ripening happens lightning-fast.
A similar trick works for speed-ripening bananas for when you simply must have banana bread but have only sad, green bananas.
So I decided to try it. I started with this unripe avocado.
It was definitely not ready to eat: Light-medium green and hard. Probably a day or two away from perfection. I wrapped it in foil and put it in a preheated 200-degree oven for exactly 10 minutes.
When I took the avocado out of the oven, the foil was warm to the touch. The avocado itself was barely warm, and it was definitely softer than before. I cut it open and found that the flesh, while still on the firm side, was definitely spreadable. Also, the flesh itself was hardly warm at all, which made me happy. So I did what anyone would do: I made toast.
The avocado still tasted...green. A little flat, not as buttery and wonderful as usual. But the difference is subtle. I think if I had seasoned it with lime juice, chile, and onion to make guacamole, I probably wouldn't have noticed. But this trick is not ideal for simple preparations that are all about the avocado flavor. Also, I've read that avocados that are really rock hard, days and days away from ripe, can take up to an hour to "ripen" in the oven. I would not recommend that—you're going to end up with a baked avocado, not a ripe one.
Final Verdict: Does it work? Sure, if you have an almost-but-not-quite ripe avocado, pop it into a low oven for a few minutes to soften it. But don't expect magic.
8 Genius Ways To Use Overripe Avocados
Sure, everyone loves a perfectly ripe avocado--they're vibrantly green, ultra photogenic, and tender yet firm enough to hold their shape when sliced and diced. But anyone who has ever bought one knows that they're also fickle beasts. Wait a day too long, and you've got a depressing overripe situation on your hands.
But all hope isn't lost! While an overripe avocado may not look the most appetizing, it's still edible (you know, as long as it doesn't have actual mold on it). Just trim away the very dark areas and use it in recipes or as a DIY beauty treatment.
Here, we rounded up 8 of the very best ways to save your overripe avocado from the compost pile.
1. Add them to scrambled eggs
Perhaps the easiest way to use an overripe avocado is by simply mashing the flesh, whisking it with eggs, and cooking up the mixture up in a frying pan. (This tip comes courtesy of my dad, who has recently developed an avocado obsession after years of proclaiming his disdain for this veggie-like fruit. I knew he'd come around.)
2. Whip up a batch of uber-moist brownies
Overripe or not, avocados can give baked goods like brownies a deliciously rich flavor and moist texture without the less healthy oils and fats. Try it out in this Clean Eating Avocado Brownie recipe by blogger Maiah Miller. They're even grain-free, making them A-OK for your Paleo dieting pals.
3. Fry up some crispy plant-based fritters
Super ripe avocados--think: brown and a bit stringy--can still be saved if you're planning to cook them. This Avocado Fritter recipe from the blog A to B to Sea features some seriously ugly avocados, along with ingredients like oats, walnuts, onions, apples, hummus, and a variety of spices, as the star of a seriously beautiful-tasting meal.
4. Make a rich and creamy salad dressing
We love this simple salad dressing recipe from Rodale Wellness that helps you make the most of an overripe avocado: Combine equal parts mashed avocado flesh and plain organic yogurt, add a pinch of cumin, a pinch of chili powder, and salt to taste. Enjoy over greens.
5. Make drool-worthy chocolate pudding
Slightly mushy avocados are perfect for making creamy chocolate pudding. And this pudding recipe from Blissful Britt combines two overripe powerhouses in one: Avocado and banana, along with ingredients like honey, cocoa, almond milk, chia seeds, and vanilla extract for authentic pudding flavor and texture. Eat it as is, or spoon into pop molds for a healthy fudgesicle.
6. Cook up creamy pasta sauce
Just try to resist this seemingly indulgent pasta sauce. Sauté some onions and garlic with your choice of spices then stir in some chopped olives, fresh diced tomatoes, and overripe avocado. Simmer until flavors meld and sauce thickens, then pour over pasta.
7. Revitalize damaged locks
Hair looking a little dull? An avocado can fix that, thanks to its moisturizing fats and high content of hair- and skin-nourishing vitamin E. Combine 1 avocado, ¼ cup olive oil, and 1 Tbsp lemon juice. Mix it all up, apply to hair, and let all that goodness soak in for 20 to 30 minutes. Then wash it all out with your normal shampoo.
8. Brighten up dull skin
If it's your face that needs some pampering, avocado's nourishing properties can help you out. Try out this Honey Avocado Face Mask from the blog Nutrition Stripped, which features an array of ingredients that help moisturize, tone, and brighten tired skin: oats, apple cider vinegar, honey, and lemon juice.
How to Ripen an Avocado
When you want guacamole, you don’t want to wait. The store-bought stuff is inferior, and making it at home is easy anyway. There’s just one problem: When you zero in on the avocados at your supermarket, they’re green and rock-hard. By the time your avocado ripens, you’ll have resorted to a taco shop to satisfy your craving. It could take up to six days for that avocado to turn soft and creamy inside. Six. Days. Oh, the agony.
Avocados ripen after they have been harvested, not while on the tree, according to the Hass Avocado Board. As your fruit sits on the counter, it releases the plant hormone ethylene, a type of gas that triggers the ripening process.
Evriholder Avo Saver Avocado Holder, 2 for $14.95 from Amazon
Once it's ripe, keep it fresh with this nifty avo case!
If you need a ripe avocado for tonight’s (or tomorrow’s) dinner, you better find a soft avocado at the store. There’s no other way. Unless you want to resort to store-bought guacamole, which is perhaps not as generally terrible as it once was, but will never be quite the same.
You say you’re desperate, and you demand to know the secret—the trick that surely must exist—on how to ripen avocados fast? Truly sorry, The trouble is, the fastest you’ll get a rock-hard avocado to turn soft is in a full day…or two. So don’t be fooled by claims you find online that you can ripen an avocado in 10 minutes, says the California Avocado Commission, either in the microwave or by wrapping the avocado in aluminum foil and baking it at 200 F. Your fruit may get softer, but it won’t have the buttery, nutty taste and creamy texture you know and love.
And the jury’s still out on the avocado sock.
The Avocado Sock, $19.99 (+ shipping) from Amazon
This adorable pouch promises to make your avocados achieve perfect ripeness in less than 48 hours.
So here’s what you need to know. (Let’s assume we’re talking about a Haas avocado, the most common variety.)
How to Ripen an Avocado
1. Select your avocado. How do you know when an avocado is ready to eat without cutting it open and tasting it? You can tell when the skin turns from green to black (if it’s a Haas avocado) and when you squeeze it in your palm, it gives a little—but not too much. Also, pop off the little nubbin attached to the stem end and look for a pale green color if you see that and the stem stub detaches easily, it’s good to go. If you want the avocado for slices, slightly firm-ripe is fine. For guacamole, you want it ripe-ripe (but never mushy).
2. If you can’t find a properly ripe avocado, you’ll need to wait. Yes, you’ll have to postpone making the the recipe that requires it for at least a couple days. Sorry. You can speed up the ripening process, though. Don’t lose hope.
3. Place the unripe avocado in a brown paper bag with an apple or banana. Better if the fruit friend you select for your avocado is already ripe, itself.
4. Close or fold up the bag so that no air can get out. Ideally, place the bag in sunlight. This method works faster than simply leaving your avocado on the counter because the other fruits also emit ethylene gas, and when they’re all inside the sealed paper bag, the gas is trapped inside and works double-time on the avocado.
5. Check on your avocado the next day. If it’s not ripe enough, give it another day or two, checking every day.
6. Never refrigerate your avocado until it’s already ripe. If it’s perfect and you want to stop it from ripening any further, then you can stash it in the fridge. Squeeze some lemon or lime juice on any exposed parts of the flesh to prevent browning, and wrap tightly in plastic wrap or place in a sealed container. Eat it within a couple days.
And beware! Cutting avocados has proven to be more dangerous than it seems. Slice the right way (and prevent a Meryl) with this informative video.
Can I Ripen an Avocado After It&aposs Cut Open?
The answer is yes, you can—with a caveat. The caveat is that you must have the patience to wait for a couple of more days! If you can do this, then yes, your avocado can be salvaged. (Just make sure not to throw away the pit.)
How to Ripen an Avocado After It&aposs Been Cut Open
- Put the avocado back together, with the two halves fitting snugly around the pit.
- Now, secure the halves so they can&apost come open. You can use plastic wrap, masking tape, rubber bands or a piece of twine. Whatever you have on hand will work.
- The trick is to make sure the fruit is totally closed, so that no bugs, dust or moisture can enter.
- Place the avocado back on the counter or in the fruit bowl (NOT the fridge). Check every 12 hours or so for ripeness by gently poking the fruit.
The idea is that the heat forces the fruit to release ethylene gas, which cannot escape when it’s wrapped well. The gas promotes ripening and so the job is done quickly.
From what I’ve found, this tip only sort of works.
In the end, it did soften a rock hard avocado, but only after nearly one hour in the oven. An almost-ripe avocado fared better, reaching a ripe softness after only about 22 minutes. The catch is that softness apparently has little to do with overall texture and taste.
You know that almost astringent quality that unripe avocados have? Well, even if you can get it soft after an hour in the oven, the resulting taste is unfortunately more like that than the heavenly flavor of a naturally ripened avocado, which is quite the compromise. And the final texture, while soft, didn’t have that characteristic creaminess that we all know and love from our naturally ripened avocados.
Also, although brown spots may have appeared even if I’d allowed the time for natural ripening, they also showed up on both avocados that I put in the oven. And we all know how the kids feel about fruit with brown spots.
The best way to check and see if an avocado is ripe without cutting into it is to check under the stem cap. Here’s what a ripe avocado looks like:
If you do buy an avocado that is too hard for your immediate guacamole fix, what do you do? Are there any shortcuts to ripening avocados? Probably not, sadly. We tested ripening an avocado in the oven here and found it didn’t really give us great results:
If you want to hurry along an avocado’s ripening over a day or so you can, however, put it in a paper bag with a banana (or an apple):
Speed Up Ripening Avocados – How To Ripen Avocados Quickly/Immediately
As I mentioned above, you can speed up ripening avocados naturally by placing them in brown paper bags.
To make them ripe even faster keep them in brown bags along with ripe fruits like apples or bananas in the kitchen counter or near windows where they get light, as the gases (ethylene gas to be specific) released from these fruits will help ripen the avocados more quickly.
But these methods work only if you have a couple of days at least to let the avocados ripen naturally.
You can keep the avocados in direct sunlight (without placing other fruits near by) and most probably your unripe avocados will naturally ripen as fast as they can.
The speed of ripening will depend on how unripe your avocado really is and the amount and duration of sunlight it can get.
This type of natural ripening will also take a couple of days usually.
Another method to speed up ripening avocados is to bury the unripe avocado inside a bowl of rice or flour and wait for a couple of days.
This is the perfect method especially if you don’t have a place to keep your avocados where they receive enough sunlight to ripen.
You can use a bowl to fill it with white rice or flour and bury the unripe avocado fruit inside it and leave it for a couple of days.
In this way, the naturally emitted ethylene gas from avocado get trapped inside and will speed up the ripening process naturally.
You can also try putting the rice or flour inside a brown paper bag and put your unripe avocado inside the bag and seal the bag ( in this case you don’t need to bury the avocados in the flour or rice) and wait for a couple of days to naturally ripen the avocado fruit.
However if you want to ripen the avocados immediately (overnight or even within minutes), you can try different ways or tricks to help you to soften up the avocados immediately.
Know that, these methods or tricks actually may not ripen the avocados but they will soften up the avocados which resemble the ripen avocados in texture which will help you to use them in recipes immediately.
The softness or texture may be slightly different from the naturally ripen avocados, but you can still use them in your avocado recipes, as they are not rock hard like unripe avocados, but they are soft like ripen avocados.
Inspired by the original idea of California avocado grower Carol steed, we can say how you can blend the avocados (peeled and seed removed) with fresh or frozen green peas in a food processor or blender to use softened avocado pulp in recipes (you won’t know the flavor of green peas).
You can wrap the unripe avocado in an aluminium foil and keep in a preheated oven (200 degree Fahrenheit) for a couple of hours (check after 1 hour) to make the unripe avocado really soft.
However the time it will take to soften up the avocado will really depend up on your oven and also how unripe the avocado is. So you should check every 10 to 15 minutes to see if your avocado is soft enough to be used.
It may take a couple of hours though if your avocado is very very unripe. The taste of this kind of oven softened avocado will slightly vary as the fruit is slightly baked in the oven.
You can soften up the unripe avocado using a microwave too. I have found that many people find it really hard to soften up the avocados in the microwave.
However my method is to cut up the unripe avocado in half first, remove the seed and then microwave in high heat in a microwave safe bowl for about 1 minute.
The avocado will be usually soft in this time period, but if its still not soft you can microwave it for some more time which should make it soft.
How To Freeze Avocados By Vacuum Sealing (Packing)
This works better when the avocados will be used for recipes like guacamole where they don’t need to hold their shape – avocados don’t do that well after being frozen.
For example, avocados that have been frozen wouldn’t be a good candidate for this Tuna Stuffed Avocado recipe.
Avocados still taste great after freezing though, and now we really stock up when they’re on sale.
It’s really simple to do:
1) When the avocados are just ripe, halve them and remove the pit and skin
2) Place the individual halves on a baking sheet and freeze overnight or until solid
3) Remove from the freezer and vacuum pack the avocado halves in convenient serving sizes (we usually package one avocado per bag). You can even add a little salsa and lime juice to the avocado pit cavity before vacuum packing, and your guacamole is nearly made! We use a Foodsaver brand vacuum sealer similar to this: Foodsaver Vacuum Sealing System
Frozen Vacuum Sealed (Packed) Avocado Halves
4) Put the vacuum-packed avocados back in the freezer until needed – then thaw and use in the desired recipe. If you’re using them in a recipe like guacamole, you can just squish the avocado in the vacuum package, squeeze it out, and you don’t even need to dirty a knife cutting up the avocado. In the photo below, I did cut them up though – it depends on the consistency you’re looking for.
Guacamole Made From Frozen Avocados
If you don’t have a vacuum sealer, you can still preserve avocados by freezing them. The California Avocado website has great instructions for doing that, just click HERE .
Stages of Avocado Ripeness
But how do you know when your avocado is ripe, or how long it will take for it to ripen once you bring it home from the store? According to the avocado pros at the Hass Avocado Board, there are four stages of avocado ripeness: firm, breaking, ripe and overripe.
A firm avocado will require up to five days to ripen on its own if you don’t use any of the methods above. Firm avocados are bright green and completely firm to the touch.
A “breaking” avocado is on the cusp of being ripe. All it needs is a day or two. Avocados in the breaking stage are starting to become a dark green color and will just slightly yield with some firm pressure. You might be tricked into thinking the avocado is ripe, but once you cut into it, you’ll see that the interior fruit is still too hard to be mashed or used in a recipe.
Ripe avocados are just lightly soft and, as you likely know, ready for eating right this second. Don’t delay, because that ripe avocado could be overripe by tomorrow morning. You can’t really tell if an avocado is ripe from its color, as it varies a lot, so go by feel.
Once your avocado turns brown-black and a bit mushy feeling, it’s overripe. Overripe avocados also develop a squash-y smell.
How to Soften an Avocado
Making great guacamole at home requires some advance planning, or luck. That’s because the secret ingredient in guacamole is time. You need avocados at the just the right not-too-firm, not-too-soft stage of ripeness. Timing is everything. And sometimes (let’s be honest—most of the time), the ones for sale at the grocery store are rock hard. Which makes sense if you’re planning to eat the guacamole (or use the avocado in another recipe) several days in the future. But if you’re not, you need another course of action.
While there are plenty of avocado “hacks” on the Internet that claim to soften an avocado quickly (like baking it in the oven, or microwaving it), unfortunately, they don’t really work. Heating up the fruit does soften it, but it doesn’t help develop the rich and creamy flavor and texture of a ripe avocado. If you’re using the avocado in a salad, or as a garnish for a dish, this might be okay. But if the avocado is the start of the show (in guacamole, for example) it just won’t taste right.
Watch: How to Make Burrito Bowls
According to the California Avocado Commission, the best way to soften unripe avocados is to place them inside a brown paper bag along with an apple and close the bag tightly. The apple will release ethylene gas (the commission recommends using a Red or Yellow Delicious apple because those varieties emit the most ethylene), which speeds up the ripening process. Leave the bag at room temperature and the avocado will soften in a day or so, depending on how unripe it is. Keep the bag tightly closed so the gas doesn’t escape. This method might not be the fastest way to soften an avocado, but it’s the best way, and easy, too.
If you don’t have time to wait and MUST eat guacamole now, the other option is to puree the avocado and a little sour cream in a food processor until smooth. You won’t have the chunky texture of regular guacamole, but you will have a creamy avocado dip. Just be sure to add plenty of lime juice and salt.