Avocados, at their best, are butter-fleshed fruits with a nutty flavor and uber creamy, spreadability that’s both highly Instagrammable and extremely delicious. At their worst, avocados are hard, green, gritty fleshed monsters of despair and frustration. So what do you do when the avocado you thought you had carefully selected is simply, let’s say, not at its peak?
Here are a few tips to freshen up your in-store avocado selection, plus a few ways to speed up that ripening process so both you and your avocado, can live your best lives.
How to Select the Best Avocados
To select the best avocado, you have to follow just a few steps in what I’d call a short selection process:
1. Think About Use
First, remind yourself how you’ll be using and serving up that avocado, as what you’re looking for will change depending on your intended use. If you want to slice it up to serve alongside an omelet this weekend (say Saturday, maybe Sunday), you might want one that’s slightly firmer and can hold up a few days. If you’re looking to make your famous guacamole for a party—tonight—then you need something softer, riper, and ready to go.
2. Take a Look
After you’ve got your use in mind, the second step is to visually search that heaping mound of bumpy-skinned fruits for an avocado with a deep emerald, brown tone—bordering on black, but without any visible indentations or soft spots.
3. Give 'Em a Squeeze
After you’ve spotted a few fruits with the right shade, the third step compels you to pick them up for closer inspection. Carefully nudge the nub of the stem (if it falls off easily, the fruit is ripe; if it stays firmly in place, it’s not yet ripe) then give the fruit itself a gentle squeeze—ripe fruit has some give, overripe fruit will squeeze very easily, and underripe fruit will be firm.
4. Pick Your Favorites
Lastly, pluck your fruits of choice; it’s that easy.
How to Ripen Avocados Faster
You now know how to properly pick an avocado, but, of course, there are limitations to every method—and the success of your in-store avocado selection cannot be guaranteed. If you wake up in dire need of avocado toast and your avocados are still on the underripe side, I’m sorry to say that (unlike bananas) there’s no reliable "quick fix" to ripen an avocado in such a short amount of time. Each of the methods outlined below will still require a bit of patience on your part, somewhere between overnight and two days.
The Paper Bag Method
To ripen your avocados more quickly, place them into a paper bag with a ripe banana. Fold the top of the bag and check the next day. The ethylene gas released by the ripe banana (and hopefully now ripe avocados) was trapped in the bag, speeding up the ripening process. If they still aren’t ripe enough for you (which probably won’t be the case), try another day.
If you don’t have a ripe banana on hand, you can still use this method just with the avocados—the banana is simply another source of ethylene gas to push the process along even faster.
The Rice Method
In a similar vein as the method above, the rice method serves to trap the ethylene from the avocados in close proximity to the fruit to help speed up the ripening process. Simply place dry rice (doesn’t really matter what kind) in a vessel large enough for the avocado. Put the avocado into the rice, making sure it’s fully surrounded. Check on it the next day, fingers-crossed!
The “Find a Warm Place” Method
The last method is perhaps the easiest, but also takes the longest to take effect. Take your unripe avocados and place them on a sun-drenched window sill or directly on the top of your refrigerator—any place that is either warm, sunny, or both. Warmth and sunlight will help the fruit ripen faster, but not overnight. Check the fruit 18 to 24 hours after placing it in your new warm or sunny spot, then keep checking until ripened to perfection.