How To Make Bananas Last Longer

Did You Know?

The word banana has its origin in the Arabic word ‘ banan ‘, meaning finger.

Regular consumption of bananas, the most popular and inexpensive fruit in the world, can help improve the health of a person in several ways. The banana is described as a ‘leathery berry.’ The flesh is firm, creamy, and satiating. However, bananas are very difficult to transport and keep fresh. They are very fragile. Moreover, they ripen quickly. The bright-yellow skin turns brown as lots of brown spots almost cover the skin. The fruit becomes softer as it ripens, and loses its charm.

Keep Bananas Fresh Longer (slices, Too!)

For many people, purchasing a bunch of bananas is the ultimate act of hope in the face of experience.

I’m no different. My thinking generally goes, “If I buy these now, I’m set on breakfast for a week.” Then Thursday comes around, my 'manners have turned brown, and suddenly Friday’s looking like a toaster waffle sort of day. Sometimes I consider baking banana bread and pretending I meant to let them get overripe, but mostly I throw them away and feel bad.

There is another way. A better way. A way that requires nothing more than what is already likely to be in your kitchen.

When fruits or vegetables are peeled or cut, enzymes contained in the plant cells are released. In the presence of oxygen from the air, the enzyme phenolase catalyzes one step in the biochemical conversion of plant phenolic compounds to form brown pigments known as melanins. This reaction, called enzymatic browning, occurs readily at warm temperatures when the pH is between 5.0 and 7.0.
(Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology)

Ethylene promotes maturation and the abscission of fruits. This has been known since the early last century. Since 1934, it is known that plants themselves can produce ethylene. Many climacteric fruits such as apple, banana, and tomato show a strong increase in ethylene levels at the late green or breaker stage. As a consequence of high ethylene, chlorophyll is degraded and other pigments are being produced. This results in the typical color of the mature fruit peel. The activity of many maturation-related enzymes increases. Starch, organic acids, and in some cases, such as avocado lipids, are mobilized and converted to sugars. Pectins, the main component of the middle lamella are degraded. The fruit softens. These metabolic activities are accompanied by a high respiration rate and consequently by high oxygen consumption. Ethylene levels are especially high in the separating tissues resulting in the abscission of the fruit.
(Margret Sauter, University of Hamburg.)

Step 1: Preserve the Bunch: Wrap Stems With Plastic Wrap

To keep a bunch of bananas fresh for longer, wrap the stems in some plastic wrap. Re-cover the bananas with the wrap after removing one.

This method prevents ethylene gas, produced naturally in the ripening process, from reaching other parts of the fruit and prematurely ripening it. This technique is hit or miss, as the coverage from the plastic wrap is unlikely to fully prevent contact with the ethylene gas. It’s certainly better than nothing, though.

This explains a few common tricks about using bananas to ripen other fruits like avocados. Or quick-ripening bananas by storing them all in a bag together. Ethylene is actually used in the banana production facilities to induce ripening at just the right time to ensure that you buy a bunch of yellow (or greenish-yellow) from your local grocer.

Step 2: Separate, Then Wrap the Stems

Sure, wrapping the whole stem section works, but why keep the bananas together? Since most bananas on a bunch ripen at slightly different rates, your prematurely ripe bananas are going to put off more ethylene gas which will only serve to make ALL the bananas ripen that much faster.

Divide and conquer! Separate the ripe fruit from the slightly-less-ripe, wrap their stems in plastic, then enjoy when you’re ready.

This should do a couple of things:

  1. prevent ethylene gas from initiating the ripening process on under-ripe bananas
  2. fully cover the stem to really forestall the off-gassing
  3. make your bananas more convenient to grab and enjoy on the go

And if you’re bothered by the stem wrapper, try opening your bananas from the opposite end like a monkey. You’ll get fewer stringy bits and have a convenient handle to hold onto while you eat. Also, no awkwardness for that final bite.

Step 3: Keep Banana Slices Fresh

To prevent your banana slices from browning, you can use the same trick you’ve seen for apples: acid!

Just toss your banana slices in some lemon juice to inhibit enzymatic browning. Full coverage, particularly on the cut sides, will help prevent the slices from turning brown. In addition to lemon juice, vinegar will also work. So would sulfuric acid, for that matter, but you probably don’t want to eat it afterward.

The acid disrupts the enzymatic breakdown process and prevents your sweet, sweet banana slices from turning into mushy little brown hockey pucks.

Ridiculously Effective Ways to Keep Bananas Fresh for Longer

Buy Green Bananas

Instead of buying fully ripe, yellow bananas, buy greenish bananas which are slightly ripe. You can store these at room temperature. Slowly, they will ripen within a few days. When you buy ripe bananas, you need to consume them within 2 – 3 days. Select firm green bananas without dark spots or abrasions on the peels, as they have maximum storage life without the need for freezing.

Store the Bananas Properly

Take out the bananas from the plastic bag as soon as you reach home. Bananas covered in bags (green bags, paper bags) would ripen faster. Bananas exposed to room temperature ripen slower and evenly. See to it that they are not exposed to direct heat or sunlight. Place them away from the stove, heater, and window. Store them in a well-ventilated, cool, dark place. Do not keep the bunch of bananas as shown in the picture below. Bananas resting on a kitchen countertop are likely to get bruised.

Bananas In Basket

Keep the bananas as shown in the picture below. This will protect the delicate fruit from bruising. Fruit baskets often have hooks to hang bananas. Hanging the bananas on a hook is the best way of storing them.

Refrigerate Ripe Bananas

If you are not going to consume ripe bananas immediately, place them in a plastic bag, seal it, and keep it in the fridge. The peels may darken, but the flesh will not be affected. Remove them from the refrigerator a few hours before your snack-time, allow them to come back to room temperature, and then consume them. You can keep ripe bananas in your refrigerator for at least one week.

It is difficult to peel frozen bananas. Moreover, thawed bananas may turn into a sloppy semi-viscous mass. So, peel them, place them in a zipper storage bag or plastic container, and then freeze them. You can use these bananas to make smoothies or for cooking/baking purposes. Sprinkling some lemon juice over them will keep the thawed bananas from turning brown. Never refrigerate green bananas. They would not ripen properly, and even if you remove them afterward, they would not be able to resume the ripening process after returning to room temperature.

Keep Them Away from Other Fruits

Place the bananas away from other ripe fruits. This can help delay the process of ripening. Ripe fruits produce ethylene, and unripe fruits ripen faster when exposed to ethylene. Ethylene speeds up maturation and abscission of fruits. This applies to bananas too.

Wrap the Stems

Wrapping the stems (the crown) in plastic wrap prevents the escape of ethylene from the stems. It also prevents evaporation of moisture and absorption of ethylene released by fruits nearby, to some extent. You can place some tape over the plastic wrap. If you want, you can wrap the stems with foil. Every time you remove a banana from the bunch, you will have to wrap it back again carefully. This will help keep them fresh for longer.

Divide and Rule

There are gaps in between the bananas that are all together in a bunch. So, you cannot get a tight seal on them. If you want them to last as long as possible, separate them carefully (along with the stems). It is easy to wrap the stem of a single banana as compared to wrapping the bunch. Place the individual bananas in a tray or on a paper napkin, leaving some space between every two bananas. So, the process that leads to the development of brown freckles on the skin can be slowed down a little.

And, without removing the stem wrapper, you can open the bananas from the opposite end, and can use the wrapped stem as a handle to hold them.

Use a Banana Bunker

A banana in a lunch box can keep you satiated for longer. Various types of colorful banana carriers are available in stores. These hard plastic cases have small holes for ventilation. A banana bunker (light-weight plastic case) helps protect, the delicate fruit, and also other valuables (important papers, books, clothes, etc.) in your handbag, sac, or briefcase. The cases are so well designed that you can carry a straight or curved banana in them. They prevent bruising of the fruit too.

Lime Bath

Bananas, after cutting, can be prevented from turning brown. Sprinkle a little bit of pineapple, orange, grapefruit juice, vinegar, or lemon juice (any acidic fruit juice) over the slices. You can even immerse the chunks in lemon juice for 2 – 3 minutes. If you are going to consume them whole, you can sprinkle some lemon juice over them after peeling.

If you want, you can apply the juice with the help of a brush. Or, take ¼ cup lemon juice and add water to the cup. Stir well. Dip the peeled bananas in lemon water for 3 minutes and keep them aside.

Refrigerate Banana Chunks

You can place banana chunks in a dish or a bowl and can refrigerate them. You could mash them before freezing. It is better to portion the chunks into small amounts, taking into consideration the recipe of banana bread, smoothie, or cookies, that you are planning to make. Put the portions in small zipper freezer bags (or plastic containers) separately, and store them in the freezer.

If it’s too late for you to store bananas, you can use those overripe bananas to make different types of banana bread, pies, muffins, banana oatmeal cookies, donuts, cheesecakes, pancakes, puddings, etc.

Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)

1. How To Make Bananas Last Longer With Aluminium Foil?

Most fruits release ethylene gas during the ripening process. The gas is mostly released through the stem. Ethylene controls the enzymatic browning and ripening. The ethylene gas released is minimized when you wrap the stem tightly either with plastic wrap or aluminum foil.

Best results can be obtained by separating the bananas, cutting the stem a little, rubbing the crown with some vinegar, and wrapping the crown with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. This slows down the ripening process and the bananas last longer.

2. How do you extend the life of a banana?

Bananas ripen at room temperature, so to stunt the ripening process bananas can be placed in the refrigerator. To extend the shelf life of bananas at room temperature, place plastic wrap tightly around the stem of the bunch. Bananas can also be frozen, but the texture will change.

3. How should you store bananas?

Put the bananas in the produce drawer of your refrigerator after they are fully ripe. Refrigeration slows the ripening process considerably but does not stop it. The peel will continue to turn brown, but the fruit will stay fresh and firm for 1 to 2 weeks.

4. Can you keep bananas in a plastic bag?

Keep your green bananas in a sealed plastic bag if you want to eat them in one week. Sealed plastic bags act as a barrier to keep out oxygen and delay ripening. … Without oxygen, the chemical process of ripening cannot occur. This is why bananas are usually kept in plastic bags at the grocery store.

5. Do bananas become poisonous in the fridge?

Bananas are not poisonous and they do get refrigerated along their journey from wherever they grow, tropical places to you. Bananas produce a gas called ethylene or ethene and this is used to ripen fruit. … One thing that will happen with bananas in the freezer is that they will go black.