They don't call them “bunches” for nothing – unlike apples, oranges and other fruits, bananas really do come a bunch at a time. While this provides a lot of bang for your buck, it also leads to brown, mushy bananas in no time, unless you're feeding a family of monkeys. Fortunately, you can overcome this age-old issue and easily prevent waste with a variety of methods, from to plastic wrap to fruit bowl tricks.
Seal in Freshness
Bananas become brown as the fruits release ethylene gas through their stems, which causes the bananas to ripen quicker as the gas makes contact with their skin. This harmless gas can even cause nearby produce to ripen more quickly. To stunt this process and keep your bananas yellow longer, separate each banana from the bunch and tightly wrap each stem in plastic kitchen wrap. This trick keeps bananas from browning for about a week, depending on the temperature of your kitchen.
Pair Your Produce
You can use the ethylene-releasing bananas to your advantage by putting more produce in your fruit bowl. Add hard, slow-ripening fruits such as avocados, nectarines, plums, peaches or pears to the bowl, and you'll find that the bananas take longer to brown while the other fruits, reacting to the ripening agent ethylene, ripen perfectly. Avoid storing bananas with fast-ripening fruits and veggies such as carrots, cucumbers, eggplants, peas, peppers, squash, sweet potatoes and watermelons.
Take Refuge in Refrigeration
When your bananas reach the level of ripeness you like, seal them in a plastic zipper bag and stick them in the freezer. Although the skin still browns, the fruit won't ripen further and can remain frozen for two or three months. In cooler refrigerators or chillier areas of the fridge, the fruit can last up to five days. Likewise, store half-eaten bananas this way, with the peel intact. Don't stash bananas in the fridge until they've ripened, though, or they'll turn brown more quickly than they will at room temperature.
When All Else Fails
Sometimes, you just can't help a browning banana. When ripening takes its toll, freeze bananas for use in foods such as smoothies or banana bread. For long-term storage, peel and mash the fruits, add a dash of lemon juice and water and store the mixture in the freezer. This banana mash lends itself to dessert dishes such as sweet breads and puddings.
- Reading Eagle Press: A La Carte: You Can Stop the Banana Ripening Process
- StillTasty: Can You Stop Bananas From Spoiling Too Soon?
- Philadelphia Magazine: How to Keep Bananas From Turning Brown
- Philadelphia Magazine: How to Keep Bananas From Turning Brown: Part 2
- Vegetarian Times: Spoiled Rotten – How to Store Fruits and Vegetables
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