We can name hundreds of reasons to love bananas. They taste good, are easy to carry around for a snack, and are loaded with natural sugars and nutrients, including vitamin B6, vitamin C, manganese, potassium, etc.
But regardless of how you slice them, bananas taste the best – and offer the best value – when ripe. You can eat them as they are or use them to make one of the all-time people’s favorite banana cakes or chocolate pies.
But all is not lost if you have a green bunch of bananas in your hands. This post will take you through six of the best tips and tricks to ripen this super versatile fruit when you are in a pinch.
Let’s dive right in!
How do bananas ripen naturally?
Like many other fruits, a banana will ripen naturally if left alone. The fruit releases ethane (also called ethylene) gas, a natural plant hormone that regulates its growth and ripens it by converting the starch it stores into sugar.
All fruits release ethane gas to aid their growth and ripening, but bananas produce more than most others. Moreover, some fruits and vegetables are more sensitive to ethylene gas than others, so it’s always recommended that you separate the bananas from the rest of the fruits.
However, storing your unripe bananas with other ethylene-producing fruits or vegetables can help them ripen faster.
Read on for other ways to speed up the banana’s ripening process.
How do I make bananas ripe?
If you’ve ever tried making banana bread with unripe, green or yellow bananas, you’ll agree with me that nothing beats the sweet taste of bread made with overripe bananas covered in brown spots or speckles.
Here are six tested-and-proved tricks and tips that work in ripening your bananas:
As mentioned above, most fruits release ethylene gas that aids their growth and helps them ripe. UCSD School of Medicine states that the fruits widely known to produce ethylene gas are avocados, apples, peppers, pears, bananas, and tomatoes.
To help your bananas ripen faster, you can place them in a brown paper bag where the ethylene gas can accumulate. To seal the ethylene inside, clip or fold the top of the brown bag shut with the bananas inside.
If you follow this process correctly, your green, unripe bananas should be perfectly yellow within half a day to two days.
Pro Tip: Adding ripe tomatoes, apples, avocados, or other ethane-producing ripe fruits to the bag speeds up the banana ripening process.
This is an almost do-nothing yet very effective method of ripening your bananas. All you have to do is store your unripe green bananas in a warm place and wait for several hours.
A perfect spot to place your unripe bananas is on a windowsill with enough direct sunlight or on top of your fridge near the back, where the heating element is situated. You can also place your bananas in a heater or an oven that’s cooling down.
Based on how green or unripe your bananas are when you buy them, they could ripen as soon as one day. If you use an oven, this time should be less, but ensure you check your bananas frequently and pull them out when brown spots start to form.
Method #3: Store them in a bunch
This is perhaps one of the easiest methods to make your bananas ripe. You only have to place your bananas in a bunch and watch the magic happen!
Do not separate all your bananas at once to help you get more ripened bananas faster. Remember, the more the bananas are in a bunch, the more ethylene gas they emit, which translates to faster ripening.
This ripening process happens slowly (it takes about 24-48 hours) but will give you lovely and sweet bananas. You can combine this method with methods #1 and #2 for faster and better results.
If these first three methods are not fast enough, don’t panic. You have other three speedier options as discussed in methods 4, 5, and 6.
Method #4: The oven method
I have mentioned it before, but it bears repeating: nothing beats the taste of a cake made with overly ripe, brown, and squishy bananas. But if all you have at the moment is a bunch of green, unripe bananas, don’t fret.
You can ripen your bananas in the oven in minutes, as directed below:
- Preheat your oven to about 300 degrees F
- Place the unpeeled unripe bananas on a baking sheet and place them in the preheated oven. You may use a lined baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil in case your banana peels burst.
- Bake the bananas for about 15-20 minutes, stopping to turn them halfway through. Depending on your desired ripeness, you may leave the bananas in the oven longer.
- Remove the mushy bananas and leave them to cool before using them for baking your favorite recipe
Note: Although this method gives you sweet, soft, brown bananas, they aren’t as delectable as bananas that have gone through the natural ripening process.
Method #5: The air fryer method
Don’t want to heat up the entire house to ripen your bananas? Don’t worry. An air fryer can achieve similar results as the oven – and the house won’t be as hot!
I like to use this method because it is easier and yields the desired results faster than the oven. So, how do you go about it?
First, you should line your air fryer basket with a basket liner, aluminum foil, or perforated parchment paper in case your bananas burst or leak while baking. It makes it easy to clean the mess.
Arrange the unripe bananas (with their peels still on) in a single layer. Then, set your air fryer to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and cook them for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until the peel turns black.
Cool the bananas back to room temperature to eat them or use them for baking. Again, the bananas will be sweet, but not as sweet as naturally-ripened ones.
Method #6: The microwave method
The microwave is the perfect option if you only have a few seconds to ripen your bananas. But experts don’t recommend it as it doesn’t improve your unripe banana flavor or sweetness – it’s more of a softening than a ripening method.
If you want to try it, you may use semi-ripe bananas for the best results. Here is how you go about it:
- Peel your bananas and place them in a microwave-safe dish or container
- Cook the bananas – one at a time – for one 30-second increment until you hear the bananas sizzling inside.
- Leave them to cool to room temperature before enjoying how you like them
How do I store ripe bananas?
Banana lovers stock up with the yellow and very healthy fruit as it makes a perfect snack in the morning and between meals. If you are among these banana fans, you may wonder how to store the fruits so they stay fresh for as long as possible, right?
The good news is that your bananas can stay healthy for up to eight weeks, provided you store them properly. Experts recommend keeping your ripe bananas in an air-tight container and storing them in the fridge.
You can peel the overripe bananas (brown and mushy ones), slice them, and store them in sealed freezer bags. You can then retrieve them whenever you want to use them and put them directly into a shake, smoothie, or thaw them for baking.
You may also choose to try out the banana recipes you’ve seen online instead of storing your bananas for a later date. For a start, I recommend you try out this delicious Banana Bread with Salted Peanut Streusel.
The recipe is easy to follow and makes delectable Cakes that stick to your ribs. Other great ripe banana recipes to try out include:
- Banana Bread
- Peanut Butter-Banana Smoothie
- PB&J Pancakes
- Frozen banana and praline parfait
- Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Bars
There are more recipes to try out. Have fun!
Can I use green bananas?
You can eat underripe bananas – they are prevalent in Caribbean cooking. However, you don’t want to eat them raw; green underripe bananas are starchy and firm and don’t make the perfect food.
Instead, cook your bananas like plantains: fried into chips, boiled and mashed, or stirred into stews. They make a perfect main meal!
The bottom line
Bananas are sure a superhero of the fruit world. They are among the best value foods, with loads of natural sugar, vitamins, and other nutrients that help people fight cancer, lose weight and reduce bloating.
Overripe bananas make the best pies and cakes, but timing your purchase, so the bananas are ripe when your bake isn’t always easy. Most farmers ship underripe bananas to increase their shelf life, and it’s common to find only green bananas in grocery stores or supermarkets.
This post provides the six best ways to make bananas ripe at home. Good luck as you use it to make your family delicious banana muffins.