I came back from a week in Dublin and opened my fridge to find my formerly hard-enough-to-be-used-as-a-weapon avocados only marginally less lethal. A whole week had passed, and still they persisted in retaining their rock-like status.
I was not about to become Beckett’s Vladimir or Estragon. I don’t have the patience. So I looked up ways in which to ripen an avocado tout de suite and roadtested them to be sure.
Avocados are climacteric fruits, which means they mature on the tree but ripen off the tree (that’s bananas! – sorry, I couldn’t resist). They give off ethylene gas, which helps them to ripen – so basically every method of artificially ripening them consists of trapping the gas and feeding it back to the avocado to speed the process up. Here are the most popular:
The wine method.
‘Men are like grapes,’ I read once. ‘They need to be stomped on and kept in the dark until they mature into something you’d like to have dinner with.’ Stomping aside, avo-experts recommend storing an avocado at room temperature in the dark.
1. Place the avocados into a paper bag. If you don’t have a paper bag, wrap them in newspaper. You’re basically encouraging ethylene gas to be produced and then trapping it in the bag.
2. Add an apple, banana or tomato to the bag as these all give off ethylene.
3. Check on your avocado every day to see if it’s ripened enough for you to eat it. The skin should give slightly when pressed.
The dinner party method.
You wanted to impress people with your homemade guacamole – Mexican is so in, darling – only to discover, to your absolute horror, that your avocados have stubbornly refused to ripen. The bag method is out because you didn’t think that far ahead. Never fear! As a very last resort, you can microwave your avocados to help them soften.
1. Prick the skin of the avocado.
2. Place onto a paper towel on a plate.
3. Microwave it in 30-second bursts until it becomes soft enough to eat.
The avocado gets surprisingly hot in 30 seconds so be careful when you pull it out of the microwave!
Allegedly you can also wrap the avocados in foil and place into a low-heat oven for 10-15 minutes to achieve the same result, but being ovenless it’s not something I could check out.
They say this is the very last resort because it will alter the avocado’s flavour. It also becomes a bit strange on the textural front, but it’s not bad and if you’re going to make guac I doubt anyone will notice anything apart from how fabulous Mexican food really is.