The Last Thing You Should Do with a Brown Paper Lunch Bag

published Oct 14, 2021
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Paper bag on countertop.
Credit: Sarah Crowley

Oh, how I miss California avocados! I grew up in San Francisco and lived in the Golden State until I got married and moved to the South. That’s when I realized that perfectly ripe avocados are not a given. In fact, they’re practically unicorns! Now, I live in Florida, but my avocado life is bleak: I buy them when they are rock-hard and hope to goodness I catch them when they’re ripe!

Going to back to visit California and seeing my sister and friends pull ready-to-eat avocados out of the fridge reminds me of how things used to be — and I make sure to tell them how lucky they are! 

But no matter where you live, there’s one really easy trick I’ve found that can help ripen rock-hard avocados, or other fruit that you want to ripen quickly: Put it in a brown paper bag!

Credit: Sarah Crowley

Use a Brown Paper Bag to Ripen Fruit Faster

Brown paper bags saved from all those packed lunches — just before you recycle them — are perfect for this tip. Fold them up and keep them on hand for when you need to ripen some avocados quickly. 

Here’s how it works: The loosely closed bag traps the ethylene gas, which is released naturally from certain fruits and affects ripening. The fruit reabsorbs the gas, causing it to ripen even more quickly than it would have if it was just sitting out on the counter. You can even try adding an apple in the brown paper bag: Apples release a lot of ethylene gas and will help get those avocados, pears, nectarines, or bananas ripe and ready to eat in no time!

Do you have any other smart uses for brown paper lunch bags? Tell us in the comments below.