How to Choose, Ripen & Use an Avocado


Money / Tips

Avocados are incredibly nutrient rich fruits that go perfectly with many contemporary culinary styles. New avocado recipes crop up daily and the health benefits of avocados are incredible. Defying conventions, they are berries that have more potassium than bananas and are full of important amino acids.

Much like apples and pears, avocados are climactic fruit. This means that they do not ripen to their fullest extent until after they have been harvested. Growing your own avocados is the best way to ensure you get them at an ideal ripeness — but most of us don’t have the privilege of our own avocado tree.

Finding the Fabled Ripe Avocado Takes Practice

Getting the perfect avocado is as much an art as it is a science. So practice and repetition with selection are the keys to unlocking consistently this fruit’s delicious flavor. Because avocados can be unsuitably hard one day, and overripe two days later — there is always the lingering fear that the sweet-spot will be missed, or that your delicious fruit won’t be ready for event-day.

If you plan on purchasing ripe avocados on the same day you consume them, check the skin for any mushy dents, cuts or other outer imperfections. Smell it for any rancidness and visually inspect for the possibility of mold. Unripe avocados can look ripe; the final and best method for checking the fruit’s viability is with your hands. Gently squeeze the fruit without using the tips of your fingers — that can cause bruising. Ripe avocados are firm but will yield to soft pressure. Once they are at this stage, they should be consumed within a day or two.

An Unripe Avocado is a Sad Avocado

For parties (and easy guacamole), getting firm avocados in advance is a good strategy. Hard, bright green fruit will take 4 to 5 days to get to their sweet-spot. To ensure that your avocados don’t age too quickly, keep them in a cool well-ventilated area. Unfortunately, some avocados take longer than others to achieve ripeness. If your big event is just a day away and it doesn’t look like your bounty will be ready in time for consumption, you have a few options at your disposal to speed up the ripening.

Ripening Avocados Like a Pro

The first, and most frequently suggested method, is to put your avocado in a brown paper bag with a few brown bananas or a few apples. Brown paper bags are superior to plastic bags for this process because tightly sealed plastic bags can inculcate quick mold growth and expansion. Brown paper bags breathe better. You want to include brown bananas or apples because they release something called ethylene, which stimulates and regulates the ripening process. Ethylene is what causes the odd smell in your vegetable drawer when it hasn’t been cleaned out in a week or two. Even trace amounts can trigger this chemical mechanism that is also responsible for flowers opening and leaves shedding.

Commercial operations that harvest climactic fruit, or do not allow fruits and vegetables to ripen on the vine, use something called “ripening rooms.” There, the produce is gassed for 24 to 48 hours with industrial ethylene. But for our uses, apples and bananas will do.

The final, and most fun, way to quickly ripen your avocados is to put them in a koozie. If you’re low on paper bags, this life hack is for you. Not only do avocados fit snugly, they look great too. The closed cell foam koozies are the best to use for this method because they have superior thermal insulation — but any koozie will do. The avocado’s own internal heat and ethylene production will ripen it, and it still has room to breathe. That’s how to ensure that your homemade guacamole recipes and other culinary masterpieces will always be ready for consumption.