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How To Ripen Avocados

The avocado is a fruit brought to America all the way back in 1833; more than 50 varieties were grown there but over time the California Hass avocado has taken over as the number one variety grown in America.

The avocado is thought to be a superfood;  it has oleic acid, Omega 3, and monounsaturated fat. Avocados are also good sources of Vitamin C and other nutrients. The fruit is versatile enough to use for practically every meal from breakfast and brunch to late-night snacking.

Avocados are harvested by hand from the trees they grow on, and they begin ripening the moment they are picked. Avocados typically aren’t harvested at peak ripeness, which is one reason why this article is necessary. How do you tell if an avocado is ripe and how do you get them to that state?

How To Select Avocados

Remember that this advice is for fruit you want to eat, whether on the day of purchase or later–it’s a ripeness guide only and has nothing to do with food safety. When we say “do not eat” we’re advising you about aesthetics, not safety.

Chances are good that you will encounter a range of ripeness for the fruits at your local market, avocado included. When you buy an avocado, you’ll want to select them with an eye on how soon they must be used. The more ripe versions may be perfect for same-day eating, but the harder, less-ripe versions may require some extra time at home before they are truly ready.

Choosing A Ripe Avocado

Do this when you want to eat the fruit same-day. You are looking for fruit that is not hard, has some give when you gently squeeze it, and the fruit’s exterior should be dark.

Avocados have a stem or nub. If this stem won’t move easily, don’t buy it for same-day eating. If you are able to remove the stem and you see green, the fruit can be eaten the same day. If it is brown underneath, it is too ripe in many cases.

Choosing An Unripe Avocado

The basics you’re looking for here? Fruit that is hard and doesn’t give. Any mushy quality could indicate a more ripe avocado, so the length of time you want to store the fruit should be your guide.

Very hard avocados will take longer to ripen, softer (but still very firm) fruits will ripen more quickly. Very mushy avocados are likely overripe.

Unripe Avocado

Some people want to buy enough to last for several days, so a combination of ripe and unripe fruits may be best. You may be able to buy avocados up to five days before you need them if they aren’t close to being ready when you buy them at the market.

How to Ripen Avocados

The slow way is to simply let the fruit sit for a few days and keep track of their progress. You can ripen them on the counter for three to five days. The darker and softer the fruit, the shorter the wait.

There is a faster way to ripen them; put them into a paper bag with fruit like bananas, apples, or kiwi. These fruits produce ethene gas, which helps ripen the fruit faster. The gas is trapped in the bag with the fruit, and you could see results within one or two days. Do not use a plastic bag for this process, as you want your fruit to breathe a bit in the bag.

How To Ripen an Avocado

If your fruit is ripe but you don’t have time to eat it right away, store it in the fridge to slow down the march toward ripeness. You can realistically expect avocados to last up to three days when refrigerated.

How To Tell If Your Avocados Are Ripe Yet

When the fruit is hard and bright green, you may be up to seven days away from being able to enjoy it. The less ripe the fruit, the less flavor it tends to have. Avoid eating any avocados in this stage of the process.

Dark avocados that show bits of green and have more give are likely ready to eat now. The fitness of the avocado should be noticeably different than the unripe version. You’ll be able to tell if you are testing a hard, unripe fruit and go back to check on that same avocado a couple of days later.

How To Ripen Avocados

A black avocado is too ripe. Even those that have not turned black just yet but are extremely mushy may have brown spots on the fruit similar to an overripe banana. This browning is not bad for you in typical cases, but it’s aesthetically unpleasant to many diners.

Speed-Ripened Avocados?

Some sources suggest heating an unripe avocado in the microwave or the oven. You’ll want to remove the pit before doing so and consider microwaving the fruit on high for two minutes followed by a cold water bath to stop them from cooking beyond the two minutes.

If you place your unripe avocados in the oven, try heating them for about ten minutes to half an hour (your experience may vary depending on a number of variables, be conservative in your baking time and check them often) at 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

Storing Avocados Once You’ve Used Them

When cooking with avocados you may find you have some leftovers. Whether you’ve got halves or sections of halved avocados, you can squirt them with lime juice then wrap them with plastic wrap or store them in an airtight container. You want to control the air exposure to the sliced fruit to prevent browning.

Here’s the best way to keep your ripe, cut avocados from turning brown.

Delicious recipes using avocado:

Monique McArthur
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