Ripening Avocados

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Updated on Sep 11, 2013

Have your parents ever brought back some avocados from the grocery store that were rock hard? It’s not worth waiting a whole week just to make sure your delicious avocados ripen! In this science experiment, you’re going to determine the best way to ripen your avocados quickly, and discover the cool chemical reaction that makes this speedy ripening process possible.


Do certain storage conditions help avocados ripen more quickly?


  • 5 very firm avocados
  • 1 banana
  • 1 apple
  • 3 brown paper bags
  • Access to a refrigerator


  1. Take note of the appearance of each avocado.
  2. Place one avocado on the counter.
  3. Place one avocado on a shelf in the refrigerator.
  4. Place one avocado in a brown paper bag.
  5. Place one avocado in a brown paper bag with an apple.
  6. Place one avocado in a brown paper bag with a banana.
  7. Make sure to write down the date you begin your experiment in your data log.
  8. Visit your avocados on each day listed on the chart below and note any changes in the appearance, smell, or texture of each avocado.

Data Log:





Bag & Apple

Bag & Banana

Day 1

Day 3

Day 5

Day 7

Day 10

Day 14


The avocados in the brown bag with the banana should have ripened first. The avocados in the brown bag with the apple should have ripened second. The avocado in the brown bag alone came in third, with the avocado left on the counter close behind. The avocado in the fridge should have been last to ripen.


Different fruits give off different amounts of ethylene gas as they ripen. The avocado left in the brown paper bag ripened quickly because the bag was able to trap a lot of the ethylene gas. If an avocado is left in a bag or other enclosed space with another fruit that also releases ethylene gas, that avocado will ripen even more quickly than an avocado left in a bag on its own. This explains what we saw happen with the avocado in the apple bag and the avocado in the banana bag.

Now why did one of these avocados ripen more quickly than the other? The avocado in the bag with the banana ripened more quickly because bananas give off slightly more ethylene gas than apples. The avocado left on the counter didn’t have a bag to trap the ethylene gas, so it didn’t ripen as fast as some of the others. As for the avocado left in the refrigerator? Cold temperatures slow down the release of ethylene gas, so it ripened the slowest.

Digging Deeper:

So how can you take this experiment to the next level? Easy. Switch up the fruits you pack away with the avocado. Switch out the avocado for a different fruit to test. Try a warmer environment instead of using a refrigerator.

There are countless things you can do to learn about fruit and how different things affect how quickly ripen, so get creative. But make sure to try only one new thing at a time! If you change more than one part of the experiment at a time, you won’t know what change caused your different results. Go to it and have fun!

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