Food & Drink

The Fastest Ways to Ripen an Avocado, Tested

open avocado
Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Avocados are great, right? They're high in healthy fats, low in carbs, and stacked with tons of superfood vitamins and minerals, including more hangover-curing potassium than a banana. Plus, they're delicious when they're good and ripe -- which, sadly, isn't always the case.

Hoping to defy nature's slow-ass process, I tested five common get-ripe-quick tricks on six innocent, equally unripe Hass avocados purchased from the same market. After subjecting each to a different ripening method, I evaluated the results in terms of color, texture, and taste to see which wonky theory produced the most perfectly matured fruit. Because we want guacamole and we want it now. 

paper bag ripened avocado
Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Method 1: Paper bag it

Wait time: 2.5 days
The theory: Turns out brown paper bags aren't just for disguising 40s. Since avocados naturally release a ripening agent called ethylene gas, trapping the little green guy in a paper bag speeds up maturation by essentially hotboxing the bejeezus out of it. This should take about two days, which is admittedly kind of slow but worth a try.
The verdict: When tested, the bagged avocado was just slightly tangier than a normal ripe avocado but, on the upside, had a pleasant, buttery flavor and smooth, even consistency throughout. If you've got the time, this seems to be a pretty foolproof method.

apple ripened avocado
Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Method 2: Add fruit

Wait time: 2.5 days
The theory: Apparently apples and bananas also emit lots of ethylene, so popping one of these gassy suckers into the avocado's bag is said to expedite the ripening process even further. I let each bag, one with a banana and one with an apple, sit for the same amount of time as the avocado-only version (about two and a half days) so I could better compare their relative ripeness.
The verdict: Unfortunately, these two were a bit paler and less flavorful than I'd hoped, with a slight vegetal bitterness and a more spoon-resistant texture. Given the wait time, neither the apple nor the banana appeared to make much of a difference here, besides turning the skin a cool, mysterious reddish hue (because science = magic).

flour ripened avocado
Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Method 3: Add flour

Wait time: 2.5 days
The theory: Burying an avocado in flour sounds bizarre, sure, but the idea seems to check out. The flour + paper bag combo works to both concentrate the avocado's own ethylene gas and soak up any residual moisture, keeping the fruit free of mold and from bruising while it ripens.
The verdict: A surprisingly great tactic! Though the two-day waiting period isn't ideal (and also is kind of how long it takes for an avocado to ripen on the counter?) the flour-method avocado came out richer, creamier, and noticeably tastier than all the rest (albeit a bit dusty).

microwave ripened avocado
Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Method 4: Nuke it

Wait time: About 45 seconds
The theory: According to microwave enthusiasts (who even are you??), a 30- to 60-second spin in the zapper is the fastest way to soften up an unripe avocado. This seemed like a terrible idea when I first came across it -- mostly because everyone else who tried it also thought it was a terrible idea. But, in the name of journalism, I gave it a shot.
The verdict: Forty-five seconds in the microwave produced a strange-smelling fruit with bruised flesh and a noticeably inconsistent firmness. While easier to scoop and not quite as foul-tasting as I'd expected, the uneven texture and gnarly aroma were more than enough to rule out this method. On to the next one.

oven ripened avocado
Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Method 5: Bake it

Wait time: About 10 minutes
The theory: The oven method has a strong following amongst kitchen-hacking YouTubers, so I figured there must be some merit to it (or, at the very least, it would kick the microwave's ass). The trick involves wrapping the avo in tin foil then baking it for 10 minutes at 200 degrees. Chemistry-wise, it's similar to the gas-capturing paper bag/hotbox method, just accelerated by a touch of heat.
The verdict: This was by far the least effective measure. After 10 minutes, the avocado was still green and almost aggressively unripe, with abysmal scoop-ability and a blindingly bright, tangy taste. Nope.
 

Conclusion

The flour method produced the best-tasting, creamiest, and most perfectly ripe avocado. However, the difference between all the paper-bag avos was negligible at best and none of them strayed significantly from the average avocado's natural, bag-free ripening process over the same span. And heating up an avocado is straight nasty, not to mention ineffective. The takeaway? Nature prevails yet again and good things come to those who wait, etc. etc. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, and get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.

Meredith Heil is a staff writer for Thrillist. She's green like an avocado, no beef. Follow her at @mereditto