When it comes to bananas, it seems that people have differing opinions on the correct amount of ripeness.
Some prefer them light yellow with a greenish stem where the fruit is just barely ripe, and that’s my idea of a perfect banana. I like my fruit firm and just barley sweet.
Next is the yellow stage, which many consider the peak of perfection, after that is yellow with brown spots, and lastly is brown on the verge of black.
We might disagree on when the fruit tastes the best, but I imagine we can agree they move through each stage in the ripening process rather quickly.
That being said, storage is crucial. There is a fine line between not ripe enough to overripe. And once you know how to properly store this fruit, you’ll be able to enjoy it just the way you like it.
Bananas are pretty easy to store. Simply keep them on the counter at room temperature.
Depending on what stage of the ripening process the fruit’s at, they should last this way for 2-6 days. Again, it will greatly depend on how ripe you like them, and how ripe they were when you purchased them.
Ripen with a Brown Paper Bag
This is a pretty popular trick, and that’s because it works. If you’re trying to speed up the ripening process, simply put the fruit in a brown paper bag located in a warm area – in front of a sunny window is perfect.
The bag trick works because the fruit naturally releases ethylene gas, which will start to flow throughout the bag, ripening everything inside at a quicker rate.
It’s best to do this with at least two pieces of fruit. If you only have one banana that you’re trying to ripen, add a pear or an apple to the bag. It will have the same effect, and help to speed up the process.
Use Plastic to Preserve Ripeness
Have you ever noticed that when you buy a bunch at the grocery store, the tops will be covered in plastic? Or sometimes even the entire bunch with be in a plastic bag?
That is how the seller preserves the fruit. Since the ethylene gas that is generated comes out of the stems, wrapping them in plastic can help to slow down the release, which in turn slows the ripening of the fruit.
If you buy this fruit when it’s perfectly ripe and want to keep it at that exact stage as long as possible, I suggest separating them and wrapping the tops individually with plastic wrap. This will be more convenient than wrapping the entire bunch, so you won’t need to unwrap and re-wrap the bunch every day – just grab and go!
Once the fruit is wrapped, you can keep it on the counter at room temperature.
Refrigerate to Pause Ripening
If your fruit is the perfect level of ripeness, but you’re not ready to make that creamy banana pudding just yet and you want to keep it at that stage for a little longer, simply place it in the refrigerator to stop the process.
You can keep the fruit in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. The peel will turn brown, but the inside will be just fine.
The refrigerator completely stops the ripening process. I want you to keep that in mind, because once you put a banana in the refrigerator, you can’t then take it out again and hope it will continue to ripen.
A good rule to remember: don’t place any under-ripe green bananas in the refrigerator – they’ll never turn yellow, become sweeter, or ripen up.
I have seen a few savory recipes that call for the green ones, but I wouldn’t recommend it. They’re actually very starchy, and can be hard on the digestive system.
Don’t Forget the Freezer
If your fruit does get really brown and soft, fear not! You can freeze them for later use in fruit smoothies, or even ice cream (or a tasty dairy-free alternative, made with the Yonanas frozen dessert maker – check out our review here).
All you have to do is peel your fruit, and place them in a zip-top bag in your freezer. I like to break mine in half, for easy storage.
When you’re ready to use them, simply toss a few pieces in your blender or food processor and follow the recipe as you would normally. They’ll keep in the freezer for 3-6 months.
You can always make banana bread or muffins with your over-ripened fruit too. And if you’re tired of those options, take a look at this post for some more original ways to use the overripe fruit.
Here’s today’s lesson: if you want to avoid overripe bananas, try wrapping the stems individually in plastic wrap. I think you’ll be very satisfied with the results.
And remember, you can always toss perfectly ripe bananas in the refrigerator to extend their life for a few days.
Feel free to share your favorite ways to use this fruit in the comments below. One can only eat so many loaves of bread and green smoothies… but I do love both!
Photo credits: Shutterstock.
About Sarah Hagstrom
Sarah is a health food advocate and loves to spend her time whipping up something healthy and delicious in the kitchen and then sharing either on Foodal or on her own blog "The Seasonal Diet" (www.theseasonaldiet.com). She lives in Sunny San Diego with her husband, where they enjoy running on the beach and weekend adventures.
23 thoughts on “How to Store Bananas”
We usually store ours on the counter top and try to eat them before they are overripe.
I have read that the stems release ethylene and also that you can wrap them in aluminium foil to stop the ripping process. But I have to admit that I have never tried it, although I should because we hate it when they get all brown and mushy.
When they are like that I usually make milkshake out of them 🙂
I live in a really humid part of the world so trying to keep bananas look good for as long as possible is a nightmare. I’ve never really thought of the plastic wrap trick because my family isn’t too picky with eating slightly ripened examples but they are just not nice to look at when I want to display them on my kitchen counter.
The best way we use them is to add them to a cake or smoothie. Nothing beats a refreshing smoothie on a hot day.
I just buy an amount that we can eat within a few days time at a ripeness level that doesn’t allow them to turn to quickly. They just sit on the counter. It never seemed all that complicated to me.
All I do is put mine in the refrigerator, All done!!
This article was very informative. I knew about placing them in the refrigerator to slow the ripening process, but I wasn’t aware of wrapping the individual stem in plastic to delay it from becoming overly ripe. I don’t like it when it gets really soft and mushy, but if this happens I prefer to make oatmeal with it. Therefore, when I purchase a bunch, I prefer to get them half green. The very next day they are ready to eat, they are not too soft or too hard but just right.
Honestly had no idea there was a specific way to store bananas, always thought that you could just put them on the counter and then if they go bad they do. They are one of my favorite fruit and its hard to catch them when they are just ripe – I have seen them go brown in a manner of just a couple of days. This is a wealth of information for preservation and I’m very thankful for it.
Thankfully, they do not last long at my house with a teenager and a seven year old, no time for them to go brown anymore!
Great article! I love bananas, but they are usually sold unripe here. I actually prefer them overripe – they are not only tasty, but I have also read that they are better for your digestion. So usually I just let mine lie in the kitchen until they are ripe. If I need to make them ripen faster, I put them in a paper bag and then place them onto the heater. Many recipes require you to use ripe fruit so that’s the best way to speed up the process.
Wow, great article! My toddler loves fruit but because he prefers to eat them ripe, I find I’m wasting too much food. I’ll definitely take away most, if not all of these ideas. I’ve also never thought about making milkshakes although, I do love a banana sandwich!
Really helpful article! I always have this issue – usually the fruit I get at the store is not ripe enough for me, but I keep all of it in a bowl together and it gets overripe too quickly, meaning it is useless when I want to take a couple of pieces to work with me.
My trick with bananas is to hang them rather than keep them side by side with other fruits. That way, they do not over-ripen and they do not bruise all down one side, as they are so wont to do.
I tend to mash them up with my breakfast cereal, or put them in some good wholemeal bread with Nutella as a (kinda) healthy snack.
Thank you so much for this. It may seem like a simple thing but I am pretty sure that I throw away around fifty to one hundred dollars a year in bananas that have gone bad. Look, I love banana bread as much as the next person but I can only eat so much and I am not that big of a baker so I have that working against me too. I need the help when it comes to making these last, and now it is just a matter of me remembering to do these things.
I love eating them when they’re yellow and JUST starting to get a few brown spots on them. They’re so soft and tasty that way. If they become too brown, I always make banana bread with them and it’s always delicious. I’ve never seen or heard about the plastic-on-the-stems idea, but that’s some cool information to know. I didn’t know either that the gas only comes out of the stems, so would it work the same way if we just cut the stems off?
I remember when I was a child in health class we watched instructional chiquita banana videos on how to store the fruit. This post was a blast from the past! Thanks for all the useful tips. Who knew they were so temperamental?
This is a very helpful article as I normally visit the store once a week and my family loves bananas. I tried this procedure and my bunch kept fresh longer. Initially, they would all ripen at once and the only option I had was to freeze them and make bread with them later. With this information I now wrap the stems in a plastic bag, hang them in a cool place and the ripening process is much slower.
I am also delighted to learn that you can hasten the ripening process by putting them in a brown paper bag and to quicken the process further, you can add an apple in the bag.
I’ve always stored mine on the counter but they ripe way too fast for my tastes, I like to eat them when they are slightly greenish and firm so I’ve always bought unripe ones and eaten them in a few days. Usually I eat them as they are but if they get too ripe, I use them for smoothies and milkshakes or I give them to my mother, she loves ripe ones. Thank you for the useful tips, especcially for the one about preserving ripeness by wrapping the stems with plastic wrap, I’ll do it at once!
Wow, I really needed this article. I like to eat bananas everyday but they don’t ripen quickly enough, and the store I go to only has super green ones… I already knew about the bag trick, and putting another fruit with the bananas to hasten the ripening, but not the rest. Now do you have a similar guide for avocados? Those little bastards always get ripe waaay too quickly, and there’s no way I can eat 5 avocados in a day!
Like you I prefer my bananas bright yellow and firm – before any ripening has begun. For this reason I usually buy only two or three at a time, which can be inconvenient. I’m going to try your tip of placing them in the fridge – if that works it will be a great help.
I found a way to keep bananas firm and fresh for up to two weeks. I buy a bunch of about 6 or 7 when they are still bright yellow and firm. Take 2 for the fruit bowl and then wrap the rest, tightly, in a thick white plastic bag ( like you get your groceries in). I store them in the refrigerator and take them out one at a time returning the remaining ones to the bag. After a week the skin might darken slightly but, when peeled, the fruit will be firm and fresh. After 10 days they start to soften and are perfect for banana cake/bread.
This is great! I keep on thinking, why haven’t I come across this article sooner. My 2-year-old absolutely adores bananas. She’ll have bananas with everything if you don’t stop her. Even when she’s going through her fussy eating stage I’m sure to get some food in her if I add bananas or just give the whole thing to her. Our biggest problem is that we either don’t buy enough and when we do buy enough, they get overripe so quickly. I’m definitely saving this for later! No more worries about buying too many bananas and not getting to eat and use them all because they go bad or overripe.
I didn’t know you can store bananas in a brown bag and they wouldn’t go bad, it’s a smart trick actually. I usually store them in the fridge but they do go bad after a while as well. I recently saw those plastic banana holders but they don’t seem like the most practical item.
I store mine using the new monkey banana holders that screw under the kitchen cabinet that are on Amazon – it keeps them up off the counter and is a fun display.
That’s a cute idea, Barb. Thanks for sharing!
Separating them, elevating them, and allowing for as much air circulation as possible (cooler air is better) will help to extend shelf life.
I wrap mine firmly in a white plastic bag. They stay fresh and firm for 10 days stored in the fridge