Can’t find a ripe avocado and you need one (or more) to make guacamole tomorrow?
You invited friends over tomorrow night for a viewing party of the finale of your favorite TV show and you want to make your famous guacamole. You head to your local market for avocados and every single avocado they have is rock-hard! What do you do besides scream at the produce manager or drive all over town hoping to find ripe avocados? Here is my tip on how to solve your problem and have perfectly ripe avocados in time with no screaming.
First, you need to understand a little bit about avocados and how to pick them at the store. Avocados don’t ripen or soften on the tree – this happens after harvest so depending on how those avocados were shipped and stored they might be ripening just in time or still be hard like baseballs.
A perfectly ripe avocado will be firm when held in the palm of your hand but will yield to gentle pressure. Don’t be fooled by the skin color as different varieties are different colors – some are black and some will never get any darker than light green. But, do avoid those with dark blemishes on the skin or have areas that are much softer than the rest of the fruit. These ‘spots’ are likely bruises – pick a different avocado.
Avocados (and some other fruit) produce ethylene gas. This gas causes the fruit to ripen and is normally released slowly. But, what if you could only find unripe avocados in the store and you need that avocado to go from a rock-hard fruit that could hurt someone if thrown at them to a perfectly ripe item that will be transformed into your guacamole for your friends? And you need that to happen in a day.
Here’s my tried and true tip that never fails:
You only need a brown paper bag, either bananas, kiwi or apples (these release ethylene gas at a much faster rate than avocados), hard avocados and about 24 hours. Place the hard avocados into the brown paper bag, add at least one banana or kiwi or apple (the more fruit-the more gas is released-the faster the ripening), fold over the top of the bag and leave on your counter top for at least a day. If you choose to add apples to the bag find either red or golden delicious varieties – these have not been bred to ripen slower (like a Gala apple) and will release more ethylene gas than some other types of apples.
I don’t recommend using the oven or the microwave to ‘ripen’ avocados. These methods may indeed soften them but they don’t really ripen so they won’t have the same creamy, buttery texture and nutty flavor that a ripe avocado does.
My last tip: only put already ripe avocados into your refrigerator. So, if you can only find fully ripe avocados at your market (lucky you!) and you don’t need them for a day or two then definitely refrigerate. Now that you know how to ripen that avocado – have a party and make some guacamole for me!