Here’s how to tell if avocados are ripe at the store and how to ripen them quickly once you bring them home.
The mighty avocado. It’s one of nature’s most complete foods thanks to good-for-you fats, essential fatty acids and phytochemical plus vitamins. It’s a nutritional powerhouse and pretty much has it all going on. When it comes to guacamole, avocado toast, and a salad of just about every kind, our love of avocados runs deep and true—as long so we don’t get a bad one.
Choosing a ripe avocado can be a guessing game. I mean, who hasn’t quizically fondled nearly every avocado at the grocery store or plopped one on the kitchen counter to ripen, felt it, and decided it’s not quite ripe only to return a day or two later and discover it’s turned to mush. Dang! You missed the creamy avocado window.
Depending on how you’re planning on using your avocado will determine what stage of ripeness is best. If your fruit isn’t ripe enough you’ll never be able to peel it or mash it. Too ripe and the avocado flavor is bitter and the texture mealy. So whether you’re mashing it for dip or slicing it for toast, here’s how to pick the best avocado that’s at the perfect stage of ripe every time.
The 3 Stages of a Ripe Avocado
Hard, bright green avocados are 4-7 days away from being ripe. Bright green avocados that are very hard when palmed are still underripe and will have 4 days up to 1 week on the counter before they’re ready to eat. Don’t even try to eat them, as they will be hard and waxy and lack any flavor.
Very dark avocados with flecks of green are ready now. If eating avocados right away, look for dark green, almost black avocados that are firm with a slight flex when squeezed. The inside of these avocados will be bright green against the skin and creamy on the inside, pulling away easily from the pit.
Black avocados with mottled skins are past their prime. These avocados will have a dry, wrinkled skin that’s mushy to the touch. The inside will often have brown spots in the fruit, and will have a bitter taste. There’s no point in trying to save them, just toss away and chalk it up to bad timing.
How to Tell If an Avocado Is Ripe
Remember this ditty when checking if the avocado is ripe: If under the nubby stem is green, the avo is ready to be seen, but if it’s brown put it down.
Like many fruits and vegetables, you have to get a feel for telling if an avocado is ripe, and I mean literally feel it, but a visual I.D. will also be your guide.
- Take a look at its color and give it a feel as outlined above. A ripe avocado will be very dark with flecks of green.
- Gently squeeze the avocado and feel for just a bit of softness and give.
- Take a look at the brown nub of the stem and pluck it off. If the stem comes off easily and shows green underneath, the avocado is ripe and ready to eat.
- Check under the stem, if it is brown, the avocado is likely too ripe and could have dark spots inside.
- If the stem is stubborn and won’t budge, the avocado isn’t ready yet.
How to Ripen Avocados
The easiest way to ripen avocados is to set it on the counter for a few days to let It ripen naturally.
Greener avocados can last 3-5 days on the counter before becoming perfect while darker skin avocados turn ripe quicker.
- To ripen an avocado quickly on the counter, place it in a bowl or paper bag with an apple or banana. Bananas, kiwi, apples and avocados all produce ethene gas which when set next to a hard fruit, softens it. This natural gas breaks down the internal cell walls and converts starches to sugar, ripening the fruit naturally.
- To make the avocado ripen in 1-2 days, place it in a paper bag with a banana or two. This method concentrates the gas surrounding the fruit but still allows the fruit to breathe. Avoid using plastic bags that stifle the fruit. This method can also be done with stone fruits, melons, etc..
- Store in the fridge once the avocado is ripe. If you can’t eat the avocado once it’s ripe, store it in the refrigerator to slow down the ripening process. Uncut avocados should last 1-3 days in the refrigerator.
In a Hurry? How to Ripen Avocados In the Oven
While I’ve never tried ripening avocados in the oven or microwave, I have made fried avocado tacos and discovered heat does indeed soften them more.
- How to ripen avocados in the microwave: Cut the avocado in half and remove the pit then wrap each half in plastic wrap. Microwave on HIGH for two minutes then run the wrapped avocados under cold water to stop cooking.
- How to ripen avocados in the oven: Wrap the avocado in foil and place in a 200°F oven for 10-30 minutes, depending on how hard the avocado is.
How to Store Cut Avocados
Store halved avocados in the refrigerator for 1-2 days max. I find if I tightly wrap the halved avocado in the skin and with the pit it lasts longer. Face the two halves together then wrap tightly with plastic wrap like a cheesemonger wraps cheese. This keeps any air from seeping in to oxidize the fruit and hopefully it won’t discolor. If it does, slice away the browned portion and hope for green underneath.
If you use this method, please let me know! Leave a rating below and leave a comment, take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
How to Ripen Avocados Perfectly
- 1 avocado
- The easiest way to ripen avocados is to set it on the counter for a few days to let It ripen naturally. Greener avocados can last 5-7 days on the counter all on their own before becoming perfect with darker skin avocados turning ripe quicker.
- To make the avocado ripen in 1-2 days, place it in a paper bag with a banana or two. Avoid using plastic bags that stifle the fruit.
Popular Recipes for Ripe Avocados
- Citrus Shrimp And Avocado Salad
- Mediterranean Chickpea Salad Stuffed Avocados
- BLT Pasta Salad With Avocado
- Strawberry Avocado Spinach Salad With Chicken
- Grilled Corn Salad With Tomato And Avocado
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