Who’s interested in finding out how to ripen avocados? Probably almost anyone who has ever purchased it that is rock hard, waited a week, and found out the avocado is still rock hard. Naturally, the opposite can happen as well. If you buy a mesh bag full of them, they usually decide to all ripen at the same time, and you have to make your guacamole a week or more before planned. This unpredictability can make this product one of the more frustrating fruits to deal with.
You are not alone in trying to figure out what the best way about how to ripen, or even a halfway decent way for that matter. One of the mistakes most people make is to stick the hard, not quite ripe avocado, in the refrigerator, taking it out when you plan to use it. It should be nice and ripe if you keep it nice and cool for a week or so, right? Wrong. An avocado can ripen in the refrigerator all right, but it takes a lot longer than it would if you just left it sitting.
If you’ve cut open the avocado and find it’s not yet ripe, that’s the time to place it in the refrigerator. It still will take some time to ripen. It’s a good idea to sprinkle the exposed fruit with a little lemon juice. That will keep it from becoming an unappetizing brown color due to oxidation. If that does happen, just scrape off the bad-looking part and enjoy the rest. The one time a refrigerator really comes in handy is when you’ve purchased a ripe avocado that you don’t plan to eat right away. Refrigeration slows down the process of an avocado becoming overly ripe. The refrigerator is also the place to store guacamole. Once you’ve made a batch of guacamole from your avocados, it’s best not to let it sit out in the open for any longer than necessary.
Not Tree Ripened – Unlike apples, avocados are not allowed to ripen on the tree. They are always harvested before they become ripe. This allows then to be shipped and stored for some time before they reach the market. If they were picked when ripe there would be precious little time to get them from the tree to your table.
Using A Catalyst – Try using a catalyst. If you remember your high school chemistry, a catalyst is something you add to a seemingly stable chemical or compound to provoke a reaction, like a violent explosion if you’ve miscalculated. The objective here isn’t to make your avocado explode, but to get it to ripen a little faster. The catalyst in this case is an apple, although a banana will work just as well. Put your avocado, or avocados, in a plain brown paper bag and place the apple or banana in the bag as well. Seal the bag by folding it at the top. Ethylene will be released by the apple or the banana, and it is the ethylene that causes an avocado to ripen more quickly. Technically, it is the ethylene that is the catalyst, but if you want to say the apple or banana is the catalyst, that’s OK. You can probably eat your catalyst later if it doesn’t get too ripe.
Using An Acidic Agent – What if you’ve ripened an avocado and want it to keep for quite some time. Can you freeze it? The short answer is no. Whole avocados do not freeze well, whether they are ripe or not. Avocado slices do not freeze well either. Guacamole may or may not freeze well, depending on what other ingredients have been put in it along with avocado, but in general freezing it is not recommended. What you can do is puree avocado first, and then freeze it. You’ll want to add an acidic agent to keep the puree from turning brown. The ideal acidic agent is lemon juice. Add it before turning on the blender so it mixes in thoroughly. Lime juice works equally as well.
Some sources suggest using a microwave oven to ripen an avocado quickly. As an approach, using the microwave is not recommended. It will do the job, and do it quickly, but it also partially cooks the avocado in the process. This will change its taste. If you like the different taste, this may be the way to go, but it’s suggested you do a trial run first with a nice hard avocado to see if it indeed ripens as advertised, and if the taste is agreeable. You don’t want to make up a batch of guacamole that your dinner guests think tastes peculiar.
Flour and Sunlight – There are two other approaches, guaranteed not to affect the flavor. One is to bury the avocado in flour. Don’t just sprinkle flour on the avocado, bury it. This is supposedly a time tested method. Another time tested method is so simple as to almost be laughable. Place your avocado, or avocados on a window sill where they’ll get direct sunlight. They should ripen nearly as fast as the apple or banana approach, and ripening in the sun seems a lot more natural.