Avocado ripening seems so fickle, it’s become a meme. The fruit—yes, avocados are fruit—are rock-hard for days when you bring them home from the grocery store. Then, seemingly in a blink of an eye, they’ve gone too mushy. Guacamole lovers like me know the struggle.
But you needn’t stare at the avocados in your fruit bowl for days on end, watching the produce equivalent of paint drying.
We’ve got a better way to hasten avocados’ ripening—and it’s so easy. All it takes is a banana.
(And a paper bag.)
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First of all, how can I tell if my avocado is ripe?
To tell if your avocado is fully ripe, press the bottom. (That’s the fat, round end, opposite the stem nub.) Avocados don’t ripen uniformly—they ripen first at the stem end, then down to the bottom of the fruit. So if the bottom of your avocado feels satisfyingly squishy, then the rest of it will be ripe, too.
I was impatient and cut it too soon! Now what?
Good news: If you store it properly, a cut avocado will continue to ripen and be just as creamy as if you'd opened it at peak ripeness. More on that here.
How do I ripen an avocado with a banana?
To ripen an avocado using a banana, simply place unripe avocados inside a paper bag with a banana or two. This speeds up the ripening process. Moving the bag to a warm spot in the kitchen can add a further ripening boost.
I tried this with one of the fist-sized rocks my grocery store sells as avocados, plus two ripe bananas. Less than two days later, I had taco-ready, ripe avocados. (My husband thinks I possess magic fruit-ripening powers, but I actually just used simple science.)
How do bananas make avocados ripen faster?
Avocados are what’s called climacteric fruits, meaning they become ripe after they’re picked when the ethylene gas level inside them reaches a certain point. Ethylene gas acts like a plant hormone, signaling to fruit that they should put a little pep in their step when it comes to ripening. As one piece of fruit emits ethylene gas, other climacteric fruits nearby get the message that it’s time for them to ripen, too.
It’s peer pressure, for produce.
Because bananas produce copious amounts of ethylene, they nudge neighboring fruits to hop on the ripening-into-deliciousness train. Triggered by the ethylene gas from the bananas, fruits ramp up their conversion of starches to sugar.
Cook’s Illustrated editor in chief and food science expert Dan Souza breaks it down further in this video:
I heard an oven ripens avocados fast. Is this true?
If you’ve been dismayed by dense avocados before, you may have heard that placing them inside a warm oven for 15 minutes will ripen them. Don’t bother with this method; we’ve tested it. All we got after 15 minutes were hot and slimy—but still not ripe—avocados. While we love warm dips like buffalo chicken, guac is a dish best served chilled.
Can bananas ripen other fruit?
Yes, this method of using a banana to speed up ripening can also be applied to other fruit. What you need is an understanding of climacteric and non-climacteric fruits (which can also make you a savvier grocery shopper).
- Climacteric fruits will continue to ripen off the tree or vine, which means you can buy them while they’re still a bit hard.
- Non-climacteric fruits like grapes, berries, cherries, and pineapple won’t ripen off the tree or vine, so avoid any that are underripe. They’re not going to sweeten up once they’ve left the store.
The banana-in-a-paper-bag trick will speed up the ripening of any climacteric fruit. Here’s a list:
Some of Our Popular Avocado Recipes
Now that you know how to speed up your avocado ripening, put those ripe avocados to use with some of our favorite recipes that use avocados.