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I've always heard that an avocado could ripen faster if put in a paper bag.

These claims can be found in many places on the internet :

Here is a quote from the first link :

Place unripe avocados in a brown paper bag to ripen. This traps the ethylene gas they produce and helps them to ripen. A firm avocado placed in a paper bag will ripen at room temperature in about three to six days. As the fruit ripens, the skin color will darken.

Is that true?

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The ripening itself is caused by ethylene gas released by the food, as you mentioned, but really this can be trapped by any kind of bag. There is nothing inherently special about a brown paper bag itself, but it's porous nature allow small amounts of ventilation, whereas plastic ziplock bags do not have this property and thus do not work in the same way.

The temperature of the fruit effects the speed at which it ripens, so if it is at higher than room temperature it may ripen faster but there is an increased chance of rotting.

The colour of the fruit really depends on the type of avocado as a "green skin" avocado does not vary much as it ripens whereas a "Hass" will.

I think this question comes down to more than just a yes or no answer. You have to take into consideration a larger number of factors including the type, time of year (i.e. season), etc. But in most cases avocados will ripen faster in paper bags.

http://industry.avocado.org.au/documents/ripeningmanuallowres.pdf

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

  • Welcome to Skeptics! Please provide some references to support your claims. – Oddthinking Jul 18 '16 at 11:44
  • 2
    Your reference doesn't mention paper bags, the porous nature of paper, the effect of any such ventilation, whether the amount of ethylene emitted has any noticeable effect on ripening., etc. Your references should support all the claims you make - ideally, quote from the references so the reader can easily see that for themselves. – Oddthinking Jul 18 '16 at 11:47

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