The do’s and don’ts of ripening an avocado

How to know when an avo is ripe

Avocados do not ripen on the tree, they ripen or soften after they have been picked. They can change from a light green colour to dark green or a deep purplish, almost black colour, when ripe. Colour, however, is not always an indicator of ripeness. Ripeness is determined by consistency or “softness”. The “softening” of an avo can occur at a varying rate, independent of the colour.

Stem method of testing

If you decide to use the stem method of testing whether an avo is ripe, be considerate and only do it after you have purchased the avocado as it compromises the ripening process.

  • Pull on the small brown stem of the avocado.
  • If the stem does not pull off, the avocado is not ripe.
  • If the stem comes off easily, look at the colour underneath.
  • If it is brown, the avocado is overripe and its flesh will most probably be brown.
  • If the colour underneath is a bright, yellow-green colour, it is ripe and ready to be eaten.

How to speed up the ripening process

To speed up the avocado ripening process, place the hard, unripe avocado in a brown paper bag with an apple or banana for two to three days until it is ripe. If you do not have a paper bag, wrap the avo in newspaper. Check daily to see whether the avocado has ripened.

Why does this process work?

A natural plant hormone ethylene, which occurs naturally in fruits like apples and bananas, triggers the ripening process of the avocado. When the fruits are placed together in a brown paper bag, the ethylene gases produced by these fruits are trapped and they cause the avos to ripen faster. Depending on the avocado, ripeness may be achieved overnight so it is important to check daily.

Watch: Can you ripen an avo in the oven?


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