Avocado is a very nutritious fruit known for its high content of heart-friendly unsaturated fats.

It can be added to salads and cooked meals or turned into guacamole for a snack dip or sandwich topper (1, 2).

Regardless of your favorite ways to use avocado, you may have purchased some that took longer to ripen than you’d like.

This article shares four simple ways to ripen avocado at home and debunks a common ripening myth.

Green avocados in a brown paper bag on a table.Share on Pinterest
Borislav Zhuykov/Stocksy United

Avocados do not ripen on the tree — only after being harvested. Some research shows that avocados can hang on the tree for 12 months without ripening (3, 4).

They are a type of climacteric fruit, which means that they produce a burst of ethylene and increase respiration when it’s time to ripen. Other types of climacteric fruits include bananas, pears, and tomatoes (3, 4, 5).

Ethylene is the main hormone in climacteric fruits and is responsible for their ripening process (5, 6, 7).

Its fat content develops while growing on the tree, but its characteristic buttery texture and flavor form during ripening (4, 5).

Avocado producers often cover avocados in wax to reduce water loss, store them in cold temperatures, or treat them with the ethylene-blocking chemical 1-methyl cyclopropane (1-MCP) to slow their ripening when shipping them worldwide (3, 4, 8).

The effects of 1-MCP last about 20 days. After this time, ethylene production increases again, and the fruit ripens (8).

Summary

Avocados ripen to develop a buttery texture and flavor after harvesting due to the action of the hormone ethylene. They may be treated with cold temperature or 1-MCP to slow ripening during shipping.

Whether you’ve picked your avocado from the tree or purchased it at the store, here are four ways you can ripen avocado faster.

1. Put it in a brown paper bag or newspaper

Avocados produce ethylene gas. Research shows that surrounding the fruit with ethylene-rich air further increases its ethylene production and speeds ripening (3, 8).

That means that storing avocado in an enclosed but breathable material like a brown paper bag or newspaper traps ethylene and helps the avocado ripen faster. It may take 3–4 days to ripen fully with this method.

You may not get the same effect from plastic bags, which are not porous like paper, unless the bag is left partially open so the avocado can ‘breathe.’

2. Store in the pantry or a warm place

Cold storage, like the refrigerator, slows avocado ripening (4).

However, both current and older research demonstrate that storing avocado at 20℃ (68℉) reduces the ripening time compared to a lower temperature of 13℃ (55℉) because it produces more ethylene at a higher temperature (3, 4, 9).

Pantry temperatures generally range between 10–21℃ (50–70℉), likely making it a suitable location for storing avocado stored in a paper bag or other material to keep it warm (10).

3. Store it with bananas

Like avocado, bananas are a climacteric fruit that produces large amounts of ethylene (8, 11).

Ethylene-rich air speeds ripening by encouraging nearby fruit to produce more ethylene on their own. Thus, storing avocado next to bananas ripens it faster. It may take 1–2 days to ripen fully in a warm area (8).

Be sure to check on the avocado daily to avoid overripe fruit.

4. Cling wrap after cutting

If you’ve cut an underripe avocado, fuse the cut pieces back together and store them in cling wrap in the refrigerator.

Research shows that coating avocado in a low-density polyethylene wax is the best way to reduce moisture loss, but using cling wrap may achieve the same effect (12).

Furthermore, cut avocado continues to produce ethylene and will ripen, albeit slower due to cold storage.

Summary

Ripen avocado wrapped in a brown paper bag or newspaper, stored in a warm place like the pantry, or next to bananas. You can also cling wrap cut, underripe avocado, and store in the refrigerator.

Although heat-shocking half-ripe avocados before leaving them in controlled storage may work in industrial processing to sync the ripening times of batches of avocados, the same may not work at home (13).

There isn’t a scientific backing that heating avocado instantly ripens it. Thus, despite mainstream trends, heating an underripe avocado in the microwave or oven may soften it but not truly ripen it.

While this quick-fix may come in handy if you need to make guacamole for today’s social event, the full buttery texture of a ripe avocado is not optimized, and less of its healthy fats are available because it is underripe (14).

Summary

Heating underripe avocado for a short time in the microwave or oven may soften it, not truly ripen it.

Avocado is a climacteric fruit that produces the gaseous hormone ethylene when it’s time to ripen.

You can speed the ripening process of avocado by wrapping it in a brown paper bag or newspaper and storing it in a warm place like the pantry or next to bananas. You can also cling wrap cut, underripe avocado, and store it in the refrigerator.

Contrary to mainstream trends, heating underripe avocado in the microwave or oven only softens it, not truly ripening it.

Just one thing

Try this today: Store your underripe avocado in a brown paper bag with a ripe banana and monitor daily for the next 3-4 days. Then repurpose your overripe banana into banana pancake or bread.