Monday, November 28, 2011

How to Ripen Avocados and More

Many of you have asked how to ripen and store tricky fruits and vegetables like avocados, bananas and pumpkins. To find an answer we assembled a crack research team and pulled them away from their desks and into the produce aisle. After plenty of testing (and sampling the goods) we're happy to say we learned a thing or two, plus we're feeling healthier from eating all the samples!

Most people aren't sure what to do with avocados, but even though they look intimidating, they're actually similar to most other fruits. Avocados will ripen slowly if left on the kitchen counter for a couple days. To speed things up, you're going to have to use a little technology- a brown paper bag.

Paper bags are perfect for ripening fruit because they trap ethylene gas, a compound released by fruit that speeds the ripening process. The bags keep the gas close to the fruit while still allowing some ventilation. Certain fruits, especially apples, produce plenty of ethylene, so adding them to the bad with your avocados and bananas will kick the process into high gear. At that point, you'll want to check on the fruit every day to make sure ripe doesn't turn to rot. Besides avocados, paper bags are great for ripening mangoes and bananas. Keep the bag dry and out of direct sunlight for best results.

For the funky kiwi, we found that a plastic bag with some holes works best, though paper bags were fine too. Pumpkins ripen best when exposed to sunlight, so place them on a window sill for a couple days and then put them back on a shelf or in the shed.

Once your avocados and bananas are ripe, toss them in the fridge where cold temperatures slow down the ripening process. It's also important to keep them away from other fruits, which will expose them to unwanted ethylene when they're already ripe enough. We also like to put ripe fruits in places we can see them, which helps us remember to eat them.

One last tip: once you cut into an avocado or apple, the fruit exposed to the air will begin to oxidize and turn brown. To slow that down, spread on some lemon juice, lime juice or olive oil, wrap in plastic wrap and store in the fridge. Turns out, the avocado pit doesn't do any good!

All this talk of avocados made us hungry, but luckily our site has over 8,000 avocado recipes for you. With all these ripe tips, we think you're going to want to do some cooking. To help, we used the FoodPair Recipe Search Engine to find some tasty dishes featuring the avocado. Ripen away!

Green Apple Guacamole
This clever recipe pairs avocados with the apples used to ripen them.
Ingredients: Green Apple, Avocado, Cilantro, Jalapeno Pepper, Kosher Salt, Lime Juice, White Onion

Pan Seared Salmon with Avocado Remoulade
This healthy dish makes great use of avocado as a sauce.
Ingredients: Avocado, Olive Oil, Salmon, Shallot, Parsley, Salt, Black Pepper, Lime Juice, Dijon Mustard

Chipotle Chicken Panini
Here, avocados balance the tangy chipotle seasoning on the chicken.
Ingredients: Avocado, Olive Oil, Country Bread, Chipotle Seasoning, Mayo, Monterey Jack Cheese, Chicken Breast

Enjoy! If you liked this post, share it with your friends!

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