Avocados are quite possibly one of the world’s most beloved fruits. Their popularity has risen since the late 90s and continues to increase in demand over recent years.
We especially love all the health benefits that come with eating avocados. They are a great source of heart-healthy fats, dietary fiber, and plenty of vitamins and minerals. Heart-healthy fats are ones that are unsaturated as opposed to saturated fats. Avocados contain two types of healthy fats called monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Fiber is especially important because it allows us to feel fuller longer and helps manage weight. According to Healthline, one serving of avocado is packed with 2 grams of fiber! When it comes to vitamins and minerals, avocados are filled with anti-inflammatory vitamin E, immune-supporting vitamin C, and energy-producing B vitamins.
Avocado’s luscious flavor and creaminess is the perfect thing to dice over taco bowls, spread over toast, or mash into guacamole — and that’s just for starters. Now, here’s the catch — that velvety texture comes from ready-to-eat, ripe avocados. Underripe ones will instead lend a hard texture and underdeveloped flavor, though they do have their uses elsewhere. We’ll show you tips for how to pick the perfectly ripe avocado and what to do if you have under-ripe avocados.
Check out other healthy cooking tips and recipes by registered dietitian nutritionist and avocado lover, Mackenzie Burgess, on her blog at Cheerful Choices.
Choosing the right avocado
The key to preventing an underripe avocado is choosing the right one at the time of purchase. To tell if it’s ripe, squeeze the avocado with gentle pressure. If it’s ripe, the fruit should just slightly give and feel somewhat soft. If it is rock hard, try another avocado. And, of course, if it’s very soft, then the avocado’s probably gone too far and you should keep searching.
If you’re still unable to find a ripe avocado or have an underripe one at home, try the following methods to ripen it.
Use a banana and paper bag
This is a tried and true method for ripening avocados, assuming you’ve got a little extra time. Take your avocado and a banana, place them in a brown paper bag, and seal them up inside. If you don’t have a paper bag, you can also tightly wrap the two fruits with a sheet of newspaper.
The banana produces ethylene gas, which BMC Biology explains is a plant hormone that, among other things, speeds up the ripening process. If you don’t have a banana, you can also use an apple or a tomato, which produce the same type of gas.
Periodically check on your avocado and squeeze it with gentle pressure to tell if it’s ripe. This method should yield a ripe avocado within a couple of days.
Wrap your avocado with foil and bake
If you need your avocado to be ripe immediately, then you can actually bake it in the oven for a quick fix. To do this, wrap your avocado in foil and place it on a baking sheet. Bake the foil-wrapped avocado at 200° F for 10 minutes.
Keep in mind that, while it works to soften up an avocado very quickly indeed, this process will slightly alter the taste, muting its delicate flavor profile. Still, when you’re in a pinch, this method will give you a ripe, softened avocado in a matter of minutes.
What if you cut an under-ripe avocado?
If you cut an avocado in half only to realize it’s not ripe yet, don’t panic! There’s actually a simple fix that will save the day in no time.
Simply place the two cut avocado halves back together as if it were the whole avocado again. To help prevent browning, you can squeeze a little bit of lime or lemon juice over the exposed green avocado meat before placing the halves together. According to California Avocados, the ascorbic acid within the lemon or lime juice will react with most of the oxygen that’s snuck in between the halves before it can reach the avocado itself.
Wrap in cling wrap and put in fridge
If you’ve cut into an under-ripe avocado and have already placed the two halves back together, you’ve got just one more step to complete. Next, you’ll wrap the avocado in cling wrap and place it in the fridge. The plastic cling wrap will provide yet another barrier between oxygen and avocado, further slowing browning. Monitor the avocado’s ripeness each day by squeezing it with gentle pressure, just like you would in the grocery store.
Can I eat unripe avocado?
While you may or may not find the prospect totally appetizing, know that it’s completely safe to eat under-ripe avocados. They will just be much harder and less creamy in texture. Still, if you want to use avocado for a dish that relies on its soft texture, you’re best off being patient and letting the fruit ripen just a bit more.
Underripe avocados do have their uses, however. They are better than their riper fellows to use for avocado fries, grated or peeled for a garnish, or stuffed and baked.
How do I keep avocados from browning?
Whether it’s ripe or underripe, once you cut open an avocado and it’s exposed to air, it will start to brown. There are a few methods you might try to combat the browning. You could squeeze lemon or lime juice over the avocado. You can also store the pieces in water, brush them with oil, store them with an onion, or tightly wrap the exposed avocado flesh with a plastic cling wrap. All of these methods work to keep oxygen from getting to the exposed avocado, which will then cause it to oxidize and turn brown.
Whichever method you choose, chances are there’s still going to be some level of browning when you unwrap or otherwise expose the cut avocado. Don’t worry though, as a browned avocado still totally safe to eat!
Need some avocado inspiration? Check out these best recipes to make with avocados, which include some beloved standbys like guacamole and avocado toast, as well as more surprising but no less delicious uses for this wondrous fruit.
- 1 avocado
- 1 banana or apple
- 1 brown paper bag
- Baking sheet
- Paper bag method: Take avocado and a banana, place in a brown paper bag, and seal it up. This method will yield a ripe avocado in 1-2 days.
- Oven method: Wrap avocado in foil and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 200° F for 10 minutes. This method will yield a ripe avocado immediately.
- To preserve ripe avocados, you can cover the exposed avocado flesh with cling wrap, brush with oil, brush with lemon or lime juice, store with an onion, or store the avocado parts in water.