There’s a reason so many of us have loose bananas floating around our freezers: We’re hoarders. (Just kidding!)
Bananas, of course, ripen quickly and once they’re past their prime, all we can do is compost them or freeze them for baking, smoothies or ice cream. But what if there were a way to slow down the ripening process so that they keep longer? Well, there is! There are two ways, actually.
If you’ve ever tossed a banana into the fridge, then you know that the peel turns black much more quickly than if you leave the fruit at room temperature. But, interestingly, the fruit itself stays fresh longer. Cooks Illustrated reports an experiment they performed on refrigerated vs unrefrigerated bananas. By disregarding the blackened peels, and doing daily taste tests, they found bananas stayed fresh for 5 days longer in the fridge than at room temperature.
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Refrigeration causes two things to happen. First, it makes the cell walls of the peel break down more quickly, which causes the peel discoloration. But it also slows the production of ethylene gas, which bananas produce and release naturally, and which causes the fruit itself to ripen. By slowing the production of ethylene, you also slow the ripening process.
Wrap the Stems
If you don’t want to deal with the blackened peels of refrigerated bananas, another way to extend their “best before” date is to wrap their stems in plastic wrap. Wrapping the stems prevents ethylene from escaping so that it’s not transmitted to the rest of the fruit; as a result, the bananas ripen more slowly. Indeed, with plastic-wrapped stems, bananas should stay at optimal ripeness for an additional 3-5 days.
Wrapping the stems when the bananas are still in a bunch is not terribly effective. It’s better to separate the bananas and wrap each stem individually.
Of course, there’s something to be said about warm banana bread, fresh from the oven, and smothered in butter. If a banana or two gets overripe, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, right?
What are your tips for extending the life of bananas? Share them in the section below: