You try as hard as possible to plan ahead so that your avocados are perfectly ripe in time to make the guacamole for your friend’s backyard grill-out. But sometimes, life happens, and you find yourself with a grocery haul of underripe avocados the day before you need to mash them. Before changing plans and finding a new recipe, turn to science.
Making fruit ripen faster is all about understanding the chemistry happening inside your favorite produce. Fruits produce a natural gas called ethylene, which aids in ripening. You can take advantage of this natural process by finding ways to lock the fruit in its own ethylene to speed up ripening.
Here are 5 tricks to ripen fruit faster:
Grab a paper bag. This trick works well with avocados, bananas, apples, and pears (and yes, avocado is a fruit). Paper bags trap the ethylene inside, creating a sort of gaseous sauna for the fruit inside that speeds up ripening. Not sure when it’s ready? Here’s how to tell when avocado is ripe.
Add a banana. This tropical fruit is a high producer of ethylene, so pairing an avocado with a banana in a paper bag will make that avocado ripen even faster than if it were in the bag alone. Using a banana that is already ripe will speed it up even more. FYI, apples are another top ethylene producer.
Try a rice bath. Similar to what you do with a phone that’s been dropped in the ocean, you can cover an underripe mango with a bowl full of rice. Rice is another way to trap in the ethylene so that mango will be ready in a day or two. FYI, here’s how to tell if the mango is ripe enough to eat.
Use linen. This works specifically for peaches. Spread the peaches out between two kitchen linens—like those flour sack towels you use when baking. Make sure the peaches aren’t touching. This can work with other stone fruits, like nectarines and apricots (but not cherries—you need to store those in the fridge!).
Try heat. Want banana bread ASAP? You can bake green bananas at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 30-50 minutes, and they will turn soft and sweet on the inside—perfect for mashing into that bread batter. If you’re really pressed for time and don’t want to deal with the oven, you can poke a green banana with a fork (like you would with a potato) and microwave for a minute or two.
Why wait? Making fruit ripen faster means you’ll be even closer to enjoying your favorite smoothie. Here’s a high-protein smoothie bowl you can make with your perfectly ripe banana.