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.