It’s safe to say avocados are a staple fruit in the modern American diet—especially if you have a millennial at home! While there’s a lot to love about this green goodie, avocados have one annoying feature: they can take a while to ripen. In our age of instant gratification, it’s no surprise many social media influencers have begun experimenting with “ripening” rock-hard avos in the microwave. But does this trick speed up the softening process? Before you nuke everyone’s fave fruit, please look at the research we’ve done on the topic.
Microwaving an avocado can soften the exterior skin, but it will not speed up the ripening process. A microwaved avocado may feel silky smooth, but it won’t taste ripe. If you’re most concerned about the taste of your food, you shouldn’t microwave or bake your avocados. However, if you don’t mind a slightly degraded taste, you could use this hack to enjoy a somewhat softer avocado.
As with any other fruit, the best way to soften an avocado is to let nature run its course. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t modify Mother Nature to your advantage. Below, we’ll reveal the most effective strategies to ripen and preserve your delicious avocados.
Does Microwaving Avocados Speed Up Ripening?
Microwaving an avocado will not speed up the ripening process. There’s no evidence that heating an avocado will produce more ethylene gas, which is essential for ripening fruits like avocado, bananas, and kiwis. Ethylene helps naturally break down an avocado’s cell walls, which eventually makes it soft.
Whether you put an avocado in a microwave or an oven, you’re not increasing the amount of ethylene gas that’s produced. While the heat makes your avocado softer, it doesn’t significantly change the chemistry of your fruit. Hence, when you eat an unripe avocado from the microwave, it won’t have the nutty and buttery flavor you’d expect from a naturally ripened avocado.
What Happens When You Microwave An Avocado?
When you microwave an avocado, all that you’re doing is cooking the outer skin. It’s the heat that causes the avocado’s skin to soften, not natural ethylene gas. Therefore, when you get your avocado out of the microwave, it may “seem” ripe, but it’s just slightly cooked.
For a more scientific explanation on heating an avocado, watch this video from America’s Test Kitchen:
How Long Should You Put An Avocado In The Microwave?
If you are going to microwave your avocado, you need to keep a close eye on its texture. Most people who use this hack only microwave their avocado in 30-second intervals. In-between each heating session, test your avocado’s firmness till it feels like the tip of your nose.
You should also consider what heat setting your microwave is on before putting your avocado in. If you can, put your microwave on the lowest possible setting the first time you try this trick.
Lastly, you may want to poke a few holes in your avocado’s skin with a fork. Although there’s no science backing up this technique, some people claim it helps ventilate heat.
Can You Bake An Avocado In The Oven?
Although “baked avocados” aren’t going to replace baked potatoes, there are some people who pop these fruits in the oven. However, just like microwaving avocados, this technique won’t make your avocados magically ripen in minutes. Your avocados will be softer after warming up in the oven, but they will still taste unripe.
If you are going to use this “tip,” first preheat your oven to 200°F. While your oven is heating, wrap your avocado in aluminum foil. Once your oven reaches the desired temp, put your avocado inside and check it about every five minutes.
FYI: You can learn more about the differences between microwaving and toasting in an oven by reading our post, “Can A Toaster Oven Replace A Microwave?”
How Long Do Avocados Take To Soften?
Generally, it takes at least four to five days for a rock-solid avocado to reach a suitably soft texture. To be on the safe side, you should buy unripe avocados at least one week before you need them. This way, even if your avocado ripens early, you could slow the ripening process by putting them in the fridge. Plus, having more avocados at home is never a bad idea!
If you need an avocado sooner in the week, you should buy a slightly softer avocado at the store. A perfect avocado for eating should have a texture like the tip of your nose. Be sure to check the entire avocado to make sure the soft texture runs throughout the fruit. If the avocado only feels soft in patches, chances are it has bruises or bad spots.
Pro tip: You could also gauge an avocado’s ripeness by looking at its skin color. In most cases, unripe avocados are deep green, while ripe fruit has a darker outer skin.
How Do You Soften Avocados Quickly?
The easiest way to soften your avocado without sacrificing taste is to place it in a paper bag with an apple, a banana, or a kiwi. All of these fruits release ethylene gas, which is essential for the ripening process. The more ethylene is in the atmosphere, the faster your avocados will ripen.
If you go through a ton of avocados, you could also research avocado-specific storage containers (yes, they really exist!).
Should You Refrigerate Avocados?
You should only refrigerate avocados that are already ripe. This strategy will slow the production of ethylene gas, which dramatically slows the ripening process.
However, it’s never a good idea to put unripe avocados in the fridge. Since unripe avocados are still technically growing, placing them in a cold environment could stunt their development. Indeed, according to California’s avocado experts, unripe avocados may never fully ripen if you put them in the fridge.
So, unless your store-bought avocados are already soft, you should never store them in the fridge. Instead, place them on your kitchen counter in a dedicated avocado jar, container, or paper bag.
How Long Do Avocados Last In The Refrigerator?
Ripe, unpeeled avocados typically remain fresh in the fridge for no more than two weeks. To help you keep track of your avocados, be sure to mark when you put them in the refrigerator on a calendar.
For extra convenience, you may want to buy a dry-erase calendar designed for the refrigerator. This way, you could easily track all the products you put in your fridge without running all over the place.
Can You Freeze Avocados?
You can freeze avocados for long-term storage, but kitchen experts only recommend freezing mashed avocados. Frozen whole avocados are typically tough to work with. Plus, these avocados tend to have a disagreeable appearance after thawing.
For the best results, peel and mash your avocado when it’s ripe. Next, mix one teaspoon of lime or lemon juice into your avocado. Not only will this juice add citrusy flavors to your avocado, but it also helps preserve your fruit’s gorgeous green color.
Lastly, place your mashed avocado in a freezer-safe, airtight bag and mark the date. Generally, your frozen avocado’s taste won’t significantly degrade till after six months.
By the way, if you’re thinking about using Ziploc bags to seal your avocado, be sure to read our post, “Are Ziploc Bags Airtight?”
So, Is Nuking Avocados A Kitchen No-No?
While microwaving avocados won’t harm you, it’s not a super strategy if you want to experience “peak avocado goodness.” Since the microwave won’t ripen your avocado, it will have a subpar taste as you spread it on your loaf of sourdough. Please, do your tastebuds a favor and let Mother Nature ripen your avos!