Can you ripen an avocado quickly? We put 3 popular hacks to the test

ripe avocado cut in half

Guacamole lovers around the globe are all too familiar with the panic and desperation that descends when realizing that their avocados won’t magically ripen in the hour left before taco night. But you can’t hurry love — or avocados, as it turns out. How can you quickly ripen an avocado? You just have to wait.

Plenty of folks have tried to quell that panic by suggesting hacks for hastening the ripening process of avocados, and we decided to test out a few of them to see if there’s any truth to the claims. The TL;DR is that while there are ways to perhaps shorten the ripening time by a day or two, you can’t get an avocado to go from rock-hard to soft and delicious in a matter of 10 minutes or an hour.

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3 (Alleged) Ways to Ripen an Avocado in 10 Minutes or Less

Bake the Avocado in the Oven or Air Fryer (10 Minutes): This popular “hack” using an oven (or air fryer) has been circulating around the internet for years. The process is simple: Wrap an avocado in aluminum foil and place it on a baking sheet in an oven that’s preheated to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep it there for 10 minutes and then check to see if it’s softened. If not, allow the avocado to stay in the oven for another 10 minutes, or up to an hour. Once softened, remove from the oven and allow to cool before eating it.

The result? While heating up the avocado in the oven does soften it somewhat, it doesn’t taste “ripe,” per se. The texture is strangely brittle and chunky (not creamy), and the flavor is downright terrible.

how to cook dried pasta oven

Boil the Avocado in Hot Water (3-5 Minutes): This method (placing an unripe avocado in boiling water for 3-5 minutes) was a bust. In addition to changing the color of the avocado’s skin to a nauseating pale pea-green, it didn’t even soften the fruit enough to slice into it. In short, this hack only resulted in ruining an avocado.

Microwave the Avocado (1-2 Minutes): This tactic requires making a few slices in a hard avocado so it will release its ethylene gas while heating up in the microwave. After making a few slashes, we placed the avocado in the microwave set for 2 minutes. Around 1 and 1/2 minutes, we took the avocado out because it was making some unsettling sizzling noises and we feared it would explode. The skin had darkened, like a ripe avocado, and the flesh was softer than it was before. But it fell off in chunks and the flavor somehow managed to be both bland and slightly bitter. In a word: Awful.

MORE: Is there a ‘right’ way to slice an avocado?

Why Heating Up Avocados Doesn’t Actually Ripen Them

When you apply heat to an avocado, you’re not ripening it, you’re cooking it.

Thus, it tastes like a warm, cooked avocado, which is frankly disgusting. There’s nothing natural about this “ripening” process, and it doesn’t produce the creamy mouthfeel or the nutty flavor that we love and expect from a ripe avocado.

It’s just like cooking any other hard, unripened fruits — the heat might soften them a bit, but it does not make them sweeter, juicier or ripe.

avocados in a large bucket

MORE: How to successfully grow an avocado tree

How to Speed Up the Ripening Process (A Little)

Did you know an avocado can grow on the tree for 14-18 months before it’s even ready to be harvested? Once picked, it typically requires several more days (and sometimes over a week) of sitting at room temperature before it reaches its peak, creamy ripeness.

So, avocados are all about that slow life, from their beginnings on the branch to their guacamole finish. They’re little reminders from Mother Nature that we need to practice patience.

That said, while you can’t just nuke an avocado and ripen it, you can try to slightly speed up the ripening process in a few ways.

Paper bags and newspapers: Try placing unripe avocados inside a paper bag or wrapping them in newspaper. Both methods will trap the ethylene gas that naturally releases from the avocado and causes it to ripen.

Proximity to other fruit: When avocados get close to other fruits that emit ethylene, it speeds up the ripening process. Place your avocado in a paper bag along with some apples, kiwis or bananas and close the bag in order to trap in all that sweet, sweet gas. This method should ripen an avocado in three days or so, depending on how hard the avocado is to begin with.

avocado with banana and apples

Submerging in rice: This supposed hack for ripening avocados doesn’t require any other produce or appliances — just a container of dry, uncooked rice. The theory goes that if you submerge an avocado in rice, the rice traps the ethylene gas (similar to the brown bag method), and hurries along the ripening process. We tried this method, too, and found that the avocado in rice ripened at the same pace as the one left out on the counter. Both went from rock-hard to ready-to-eat in about four days.

Sun exposure: Clean Eating magazine has an easy suggestion that merely calls for a clear forecast. Place the avocado in a sunny spot and let the warmth of the sun mimic the natural environment in which avocados grow and thrive. Maybe they’ll think they’re back at home on the grove and ripen faster from drinking in those sunny rays.

Avocado socks: Footwear for your produce?! Some folks swear by the avocado sock, which is a fabric sack in which you can store an avocado in the hopes that it speeds up the ripening process. According to online reviews, it seems like this is no better or worse than using the paper bag/newspaper tricks, or placing the avocado next to other ethylene-releasing produce, but as long as you’re buying sweaters for your mugs, you may as well get socks for your avocados.

Fresh guacamole in bowl

MORE: How to freeze an avocado for a perfectly creamy smoothie

How To Know When An Avocado Is Ripe

If you’re in the grocery store looking to purchase an already ripe avocado, you should feel for fruits that yield slightly to firm pressure from your hand. They shouldn’t be overly soft or mushy, as that’s a sign of overripeness.

A ripe avocado will also be a very dark green or almost black color when ripe. Checking the color along with the giving the fruit a squeeze will give you a good sense of its ripeness.

RELATED: Here’s How Long Common Foods Last In The Freezer

If you want to check the ripeness of an avocado you have at home, one trick is to pop the little button stem off the top of the fruit. If the skin underneath is green, the avocado’s ready to go. If it’s brown, that means it’s past its prime and then it’s up to you if you want to use the overripe avocado or not.

Check out the tips in the video below for more details on choosing ripe avocados. Knowing how quickly these delicious fruits can go from unripe to overripe, the more information you have, the better!

Kate Emswiler contributed to this report.

Food, Life Hacks
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