If food enthusiast jokes are to be believed, the quandary facing avocado fans isn’t necessarily how to ripen avocados, but rather how to ripen them conveniently.
One of nature’s most delectable masterpieces, the avocado is fresh green taste in a deliciously buttery texture. That’s if you can catch it in time, of course. The subtle art of picking ripe avocados at the market and the not-so-subtle science of knowing how to store avocados are enviable skills for any home chef. Here’s how to hack this delectable fruit and bend that ripening to your hungry will.
How to Tell if an Avocado is Ripe
The best way to start your avo-journey is by grabbing the right avocado when you’re out shopping. Here’s a hint: you should have a plan for using it to avoid grabbing a handful of disappointing mush a few days from now.
In general, you’ll want an avocado that holds its shape well. If it feels like the tough outer skin is taking on the brunt of holding it together, or you feel like you can easily “pop” it by curling your fingers over it, put it back. An overly-soft avocado is overripe and that means dealing with an unpleasant metallic taste.
- Planning on using it tonight? Aim for an avocado that yields to gentle pressure with your thumb—think silly putty or modeling clay, not slime. A little firm is okay, but if you’re questioning if your thumb is actually making a dent and squinting at the surface, try for a slightly softer one.
- Planning on using it in a day or two at most? If you’ve found one that just barely has a little give, wiggle the little bud of the stem at the narrow end and remove it. If you see green in the divot, it’s fresh and still has some life left. Brown means it’s already ripened and has probably already developed some unsightly spots inside.
- Planning on using it several days from now? Harder avocados are okay in this scenario. With a longer lifespan in your kitchen, you’ll be able to research how to soften avocado fruits to your liking in the interim. There are several ways to quickly ripen avocado if guacamole cravings strike, but try to give them a day or two to ripen, regardless of tactics, to be on the safe side.
What Do I Do if My Avocado Isn’t Ripe?
So imagine that you’ve sent a well-meaning friend or family member out to grab an avocado, and they come home with one that would be better suited to striking out a third baseman. Are your hopes of rich, delicious avocado slices dashed? Not necessarily. While your wayward ‘cado might need some help to ripen, chances are a day or two on the counter with some assistance will ensure it’s a ripe avocado in no time.
Dress up your avocado
Don’t let the adorable looks fool you – The Avocado Sock, a wool avocado ripener is how to ripen an avocado fast in a culinary pinch. Made of Shetland wool, it offers a warm, cozy environment for the stubbornest of “guacamole seeds” in your kitchen. Simply slip in an unripe avocado, pull the drawstring, and set on a kitchen counter at room temperature for 1-2 days. The warmth and insulation help the natural ripening process along.
How Do You Soften an Avocado After Cutting It?
You thought you found the perfect avocado and realized as the knife sunk in that maybe it wasn’t quite as ripe as you thought. All is not lost—you’ll just need a little citric acid to save the day. It’s no coincidence that lime juice and avocados are found together in so many recipes; a little lime softens the avacado.
Do Avocados Ripen in the Fridge?
Food safety protocols have sent even the most fearless of home chefs scurrying to the internet to research “how long do avocados last?” and “dangers of overripe avocados.” The fridge is normally a safe bet for extending the life of fresh produce – and for avocados, it works a little too well. For unripe, unsliced versions, the chill of the refrigerator can actually keep an avocado in flavorless stasis, unable to ripen and transform into the creamy green slices food fans know and love. If you’re not sure how to ripen avocados, there’s at least one piece of advice that will always hold true: keep unopened, unripe avocados out of the fridge or they’ll never reach their full potential.
What Happens if You Eat an Unripe Avocado?
As previously mentioned, avocados are actually a fruit—a berry, to be precise. Just like under-ripe strawberries, eating it won’t hurt you, but the taste is definitely nothing to write home about. An unripe avocado has been described as metallic, unpleasantly vegetal, and even bitter—not exactly a rave review for your plate. Hint: if your avocado is a bit too firm for enjoying raw, try dicing it in a hot, prepared dish like fried rice or pan-fried noodles to soften it and bring out its better flavors.
How to Prepare Avocado Dishes Like a Champ
Now that you know your way around this oversized, green-skinned berry, it’s time to enjoy it. When you have your ripe avocado in hand, extracting the “meat” cleanly gives you the most options in terms of dishes.
The all-in-one avocado tool
This flexible wood or plastic-handled AvoLoop is deceptively simple-looking, but it’s surprisingly adept at getting between the avocado flesh and the hard outer skin without tearing it. Simply insert the loop and use a gentle pulling/scooping motion to extract an entire avocado half in one fell swoop. Slice, dice, or use it whole, and repeat for the other half. The simple design means cleanup happens in record time, too.
While the uber-popular avocado toast (and its million variations) are an easy hit for breakfast, try mixing it up a bit by baking your (unpeeled) avocado instead. Turn your oven to 425, grab a baking sheet, make a small ring out of tinfoil, and use the ring as a stand for an avocado half—skin on, de-pitted and cut side facing up. Brush with a little olive oil, and crack an egg into the pit cavity, scooping flesh out with a spoon beforehand if more room is needed. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes for a warm, tasty, protein-rich treat.
If you have some extra, don’t let it go to waste—”bee” sure to wrap it up.
Bee frugal and save your avocados
Infused with anti-microbial beeswax and jojoba oil, this Wrap Set from Bee’s Wrap is an eco-friendly alternative to cumbersome plastic wraps and containers is a gentle, natural way to keep food fresh. Simply warm with the heat of your hands for a moment, wrap around the produce you’d like to preserve, and set your freshly-wrapped bundle in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. Rinses clean to be used over and over again—perfect for the busy home chef.
When lunch rolls around, snag that not-quite-ripe avocado off the counter, remove the flesh, and slice lengthwise into generously wide strips. Dip strips in an egg wash, seasoned flour, then breadcrumbs before gently sliding into frying oil or lay out on a cookie sheet to bake 12 minutes at 400 degrees. Avocado fries dipped in ranch makes the perfect snack for a working lunch.
If you’re only making a few fries, stash the other half of your avocado for snacking later:
Give your avocado a hug
Deceptively easy to use, the Avocado Huggers from Food Huggers conform to cut fruits and veggies of any size, but work particularly well on avocados. Remove the pit, press your avocado cut-side down into a hugger of the appropriate size, and voila—a sealed, preserved avocado that’s ready to be tucked into the fridge until you need it.
For dinner, its hard to beat the quintessential avocado masterpiece: guacamole. Simply peel, pit, and slice your avocado, mashing it with equal parts finely-diced tomatoes, onions, a pinch of cilantro, minced garlic, and generous sprinklings of both lime juice and salt. Some guac-lovers swear by a dollop of sour cream or even unflavored greek yogurt to add tang and a pleasant dairy note, but you can easily leave these out to suit your tastes.
While old wives’ tales might say that leaving the pit in your guac will keep it fresh, it unfortunately won’t. The only way to keep guacamole truly fresh and free of unsightly browning is to put it in an airtight container. Thankfully, there’s one designed specifically for everyone’s favorite avocado-based dish:
Save the guac
Spoon in, push up, and twist to seal – no more brown, unappetizing guacamole. The Guacamole Preservation Container from GuacLock is made specifically to keep guacamole tasty and fresh for longer, making it a must for any avocado lover. The clear sides help you determine when it’s time for more avocado-shopping, too.
If you’ve searched for how to ripen avocados only to find you have a sudden craving, you’re not alone. There are few more versatile and craveable pieces of produce in the supermarket, and now that you’ve mastered the search, there are some incredible tastes in your future. May your avocados be ripe, your slices stay green, and your cravings for guacamole never go unsatisfied.