In a perfect world, you'd always have a half-dozen ripened avocados on hand so you could whip up a batch of guacamole whenever the need arose. More likely, however, you're stuck with several hard specimens that have no business in your famous dip.

Don't despair. You can accelerate the ripening process so your avocados achieve softness sooner. Then mix them with chopped tomatoes, garlic, onions and a spritz of lime to create a luscious dip to accompany cut-up veggies or indulgent chips. The method you choose depends on how soon you need the avocados.

You Have a Few Days

If you leave hard avocados on the counter, they'll typically ripen in about seven days. Speed up the process by taking advantage of avocados' production of ethylene gas. This hormone triggers the ripening process, and you can give your fruits an extra dose by enclosing them in a brown paper bag. When trapped in an enclosed space, the avocados ripen more quickly – in about four days. If you place them in a bag on Wednesday, you can have guacamole dip by the weekend.

Avocados ripened in a bag come out tasting just as buttery and creamy as if they'd sat and ripened on their own.

You Need Soft Avocados Now!

Sometimes, the need for guacamole can't wait. In this case, you might opt to bake your avocados at low heat to hasten the ripening process. If you have a semi-ripe avocado, this procedure can take the fruit quickly to a fully ripe level. If your avocado is very hard, it may take much longer to get a soft fruit.

Heat your oven to 200 F. Wrap your partially ripe avocado in foil, place it in a baking dish and set it in the oven for about 10 minutes. The heat combined with the closed environment of the foil jacket concentrates the ripening ethylene gas and speeds up softening.

The 10-minute time for softening is not absolute, though. If your avocado is slightly soft, but not soft enough to mash into a dip, 10 minutes might be enough. However, a rock-hard avocado may take up to an hour to get to a softer stage. Check the avocado every five to 10 minutes while it's in the oven to determine if it's reached optimal softness.

Taste is also different when it comes to an avocado ripened in the oven. It may have a slightly different flavor – more cooked and less creamy or, in other words, just functionally soft. You can use it to make guacamole dip, but it may not have quite the same pizzazz as when you make your recipe from naturally ripened fruit.

A Healthy Option

Choosing guacamole dip isn't just a way to satisfy your taste buds; it can promote good health as well. Avocados are a source of numerous antioxidants that can contribute to preventing and curing several neurodegenerative diseases, according to a 2016 paper published in Advances in Neurobiology. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reports that avocados are also a great source of healthy monounsaturated fat as well as potassium, fiber, folate and vitamins E, C and B6.

About the Author

Andrea Cespedes

Andrea Cespedes has been in the fitness industry for more than 20 years. A personal trainer, run coach, group fitness instructor and master yoga teacher, she also holds certifications in holistic and fitness nutrition.