I love avocados. Be it on toast, eaten with a generous sprinkling of salt, chilli flakes and a squeeze of lime juice, or made into a sweet and creamy pudding, I just can’t get enough of it. But picking the right avocado at the supermarket, or impatiently waiting for it to ripen can be frustrating.

While usually it can take a few days for them to soften when stored on the kitchen countertop, if you miss that window, they become brown and mushy and end up wasted in the bin. But turns out, there’s an easy trick for making avocados ripen faster:

Use A Brown Paper Bag

About two days before you want to enjoy an avocado, simply place it in a brown paper bag and fold the top over and leave it on your countertop. This method also works for other fruits, such as peaches, mangoes, plums, or tomatoes. This only works with a brown paper bag, since plastic bags will trap moisture and result in mould.

Bag Your Avocado With Other Fruit 

Another method is to place your avocado in a paper bag with a banana or apple and fold to close, and store it in a warm environment until the skin turns a darker green and yields to gentle pressure (this takes between two to three days).

If you don’t have any other fruit on hand, you can place the avocado in a bag of uncooked rice and fold to close. Again, store it in a warm environment until the skin turns a darker green and yields to gentle pressure.

Why The Brown Paper Bag Method Works

First of all, it helps to understand some basic science. Ripening is the result of fruit releasing a gas called ethylene, which effectively starts the process of decay. It’s caused by the breakdown of cell walls, conversion of starches to sugars, and the disappearance of acids in a piece of produce.

Because ethylene gas diffuses easily, it can travel within the plant from cell to cell and to neighboring plants. It’s also triggered by heat, so placing an avocado in a paper bag allows the ethylene to get to work.

The next time you’re at the grocery store, try and follow these avocado buying tips. If you want an avocado that is ready to eat within the next day or two, opt for a darker skinned avocado that has a slight softness. If you want one that can last a few days before you eat it, grab one that is firm, with a greener skin. And if you don’t have a brown paper bag but still want to speed up the ripening process, place the avocados on the counter with direct sunlight and viola, you will be enjoying its creamy goodness in next to no time!