There’s a great story about my beloved Aunt Tanny, who came out from Pennsylvania to California to visit my family in the early ’70s and loved guacamole so much that when her visit was over, my mom sent her home with a bag of California avocados so she could make it herself.
They were hard, as is normal, but apparently AT (as I called her) didn’t know what to do with them, or perhaps we didn’t explain properly, because later she reported back to my mom that those avocados got soft and seemed rotten so she had to…wait for it… throw them away!
Few things are as annoying as wanting or needing fresh avocado and finding that the fruit on your counter isn’t ready. You can probably still remember the times you were planning to make guacamole for a party and party day came and went with the fruit still hard. But grocery stores around the country have begun using strategies to pre-ripen avocados for purchase, so more and more you will be able to find the fruit ready, or nearly ready. We talked the other day about how a packing house ripens some avocados before sending them to market .
There are a couple of ways to ripen an avocado at home. Which process you use depends upon how much time you have, or how fast you need the ‘cado.
How to ripen an avocado:
- Naturally: Let it sit on the counter at room temperature (65-75F degrees). The warmer the room, the faster it will ripen, so in summer, avocados will ripen faster than in winter, in general. This can take a week, even two, depending on temp and how hard the avocado was when you got it.
- To expedite: Place several avocados in a paper bag and store at room temperature. The fruit emits ethylene gas as it ripens, and the bag captures the gas so it surrounds the fruit effectively. This might take 3-6 days.
- To expedite faster: Place one or more avocados in a paper bag with an apple and/or a banana. The other fruit produces more ethylene gas and hastens the ripening. This might take 1-3 days.
- Don’t do this: eHow recommends rushed ripening in the microwave like this  or this . I don’t recommend this due to flavor degrading. People, life is too short to eat microwaved avocados!
Avocados are ripe when they give slightly to gentle pressure when you squeeze them in the palm of your hand (don’t use fingertips), but are still firm. They should not be squishy.
If your avocados are nearly ripe or ripe and ready, you can delay further ripening by putting the fruit in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Source: Jan DeLyser, VP Marketing at the California Avocado Commission .