How to Ripen an Avocado

Three Methods:Ripening an Uncut AvocadoRipening a Cut AvocadoStoring and Using Your Avocado

Just got a shipment in from the avocado angel? Hankering for some guacamole on the double? An unripened avocado can be encouraged to ripen speedily by following these easy steps.

Method 1
Ripening an Uncut Avocado

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    Place the unripe avocado into a brown paper bag. The bag is used to trap the ethylene gas, which ripens the avocado. Make sure there aren't any holes in it!
    • The paper bag is just a trap. If you can devise some other mechanism that will trap in the air in the same way, great! That can be used, too. Your grandma might tell you to store it in the flour bin, but you may have to settle for the empty McDonald's bag.
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    Add a banana, apple, or tomato to the brown paper bag. Bananas are best, but the other fruits will do it, too. Some prefer using an apple because it can be used over and over again, even after it becomes old and wrinkly - it still emits gas. If you have none of these, but another avocado or two, put them all together.
    • These fruits emit more ethylene gas that other fruits. And the more ethylene gas they produce, the quicker everything will ripen.[1]
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    Store the bag, closed, at room temperature. Keep it out of sunlight; 65º-75º F (18º-24º C) is best. If you don't have extra fruit in your bag, this will take 2-5 days.[2]
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    Check regularly. The added fruit will speed the ripening process considerably and it should ripen within 1 - 3 days.[3] Your avocado is ready when it is easy to peel; feel it to see if it gives slightly as sometimes it's hard to tell by colour.
    • An unripe avocado will be nice and green. As it ripens, it will get hints of purple and black (that's when you can use it in about 2 days). When it's ready for your next meal, it's so dark green/brown it's practically purplish black.[2]
      • Once it's ripe, it will keep in the fridge for a few days, but it will lose its taste as time progresses.[4]

Method 2
Ripening a Cut Avocado

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    Sprinkle your cut avocado with lemon or lime juice. Since your avocado is open and vulnerable to the world, keep it from turning brown and too mushy with an acidic agent like lemon juice. You want it to ripen, not ruin.
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    Cover it in clear plastic wrap. Place the two halves back together and wrap it in plastic wrap as if it were whole. Place it in the refrigerator.
    • If you don't have plastic wrap, use an airtight, resealable container.
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    Monitor it for ripeness. The length of time it needs to ripen all depends on how far along your avocado was in the process. Take it out and prod it -- when it becomes soft and seems edible, give it a taste test. If it's not quite there, put it back in.

Method 3
Storing and Using Your Avocado

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    Keep uncut, unripe avocados at room temperature. Putting them in the refrigerator is a no-no. They will not ripen in cold temperatures.[4] If you do absolutely nothing (apart from placing it on your countertop) your avocado may take up to six days to ripen. You can place the avocado in the refrigerator if you want to delay ripening; it will keep longer there than on the counter. A day or two before you need it, take it back out and ripen in a bag as noted above.
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    For cut, sliced, or mashed avocados, use lemon juice. Even if it's in guacamole form, sprinkle a bit of lemon, lime, or even orange juice (so long as it's fresh!) over your avocado. The acid will slow the browning process (otherwise known as oxidation), prolonging your avocado's life.
    • If you're starting to see brown, you don't need to throw it all away. Just scoop out the brown parts and get to using the rest before it goes, too.[5]
    • If your avocado is cut in half and not mashed or chopped, you can avoid flavoring it with lemon by simply running water over the cut surface, and putting it in the fridge. It will look worse than with lemon juice, but that's a skin that actually keeps the rest of it fresh for longer. The thin browning skin peels back easily, and you have a fresh, avocado-flavored avocado.
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    If bad becomes worse, puree your avocado and freeze it. If your avocado is prime time to be used, but your schedule just isn't allowing it, puree it and put it in the freezer. Don't freeze it whole, the taste will disintegrate. You can then still use the avocado for dips and spreads, etc.[5]
    • Obviously, your avocado is best if not frozen. This should be a measure taken only if it cannot be eaten fresh.
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    Monitor the stages of ripeness. Hopefully you've had a few days to bond with your avocados. If you've been watching them, you'll have a good grasp on how far along in the process they are. At different stages, they'll yield different results.
    • If your avocado is just starting to turn ripe, it will be less directed by heat. You can grill or bake it more easily.
    • If your avocado took a while to ripen but finally did, it should produce slices that will do well in salads and salsas. The firm slices will look beautiful on your dishes!
    • If you have a bunch of ripe avocados, turn 'em all into something cream-based. Think flans, ice cream, or cheesecakes. An excuse to experiment!


  • It is also possible to just use the brown paper bag; it won't ripen as quickly as when fruit is added but it will speed up ripening more than leaving it uncovered.
  • Filling a bag with flour is also a possible alternative ripening method.[6]


  • Refrigerating avocados does the opposite - prevents them from ripening. This is good for longer storage but not for faster ripening.
  • Do not microwave your avocado. You may find sources on the internet that say it's doable (and it is. After all, you can technically microwave anything), but it will destroy the taste of your avocado.[2]

Things You'll Need

  • Avocado
  • Paper bag
  • Banana, apple, or tomato (for expedited process)

Article Info

Categories: Food Preservation Techniques