One thing about bananas that I’ve never been sure about is whether they can be refrigerated. So, I’ve done my research, and this is the scoop on bananas.
According to the Dole website, bananas should be stored in a cool, dark area at 53℉. Dole also says for proper storage, just “pop them into the fridge” after they are fully ripe because they will not continue to ripen if stored in a cool environment.
While this information is good, it is a slight oversimplification. The rest of the article will dive into the details.
Can Bananas Be Refrigerated?
When I was growing up, one of the first television commercials I remember watching was for Chiquita Bananas, which stated quite effectively that we should “never put bananas in the refrigerator.”
So, naturally, I grew up thinking that bananas should not be refrigerated. You can imagine my surprise when visiting the Dole website that they recommend storing bananas in the refrigerator.
However, they also clarify their statement by saying that bananas should be fully ripe before refrigerating because they will not ripen any further if the environment is too cool.
The Dole folks also say that we should not be concerned about the skin of the banana turning brown when refrigerated because that will not affect the taste of the banana.
What Does the USDA Say?
According to the USDA, the bananas that we buy at the local grocery or supermarket are picked green in Central and South American banana groves and shipped to the United States under strict conditions because bananas are very temperature sensitive.
Those strict conditions include:
- A temperature of between 56℉ and 58℉ because lower temperatures may cause “chilling injury,” and higher temperatures may cause the bananas to ripen too quickly before they get to their destination.
- Plenty of ventilation to avoid ethylene gas buildup that could cause premature ripening.
- A restriction against bananas being shipped with other fruit that are “not temperature compatible” and produce high amounts of ethylene gas.
Also, according to the USDA, bananas are picked green and should “ripen when they reach their destination.” That is the reason we often see green bananas in our local produce department. They are not meant to ripen before they reach our grocery stores, and great care is taken to prevent them from doing so.
Can Bananas Be Frozen?
Freezing is an excellent way of preserving bananas so that they can be salvaged once they become fully ripe. Just follow these steps to store bananas in the freezer:
- Peel the bananas because when frozen, the peels will be mushy when thawed.
- Leave whole, mash, or puree bananas to be used in making breads and cakes. Then place them in bags or other containers in amounts needed for your various baking recipes.
- Slice bananas and freeze in a single layer on baking sheets to be used in smoothies. Once the bananas are frozen, just put them into a ziplock bag and store them in the freezer until needed.
How Can I Use Frozen Bananas?
Bananas are one of the more popular fruits, and one reason for their popularity is that they are so versatile. Not only are they good to eat, but they can be used in many recipes and are more affordable than many fruits.
Frozen bananas can be used:
- To make cakes that call for bananas as an ingredient, such as the Hummingbird Cake.
- As an ingredient in smoothies.
- To make quick breads, especially banana bread.
My favorite way to use frozen bananas is for banana bread, which happens to be one of my sons’ favorite desserts. Since it is the best and most moist banana bread recipe I have ever found, I will share it later in the article.
What Are The Best Storage Practices For Bananas?
If you want the bananas you buy to last as long as possible and to avoid bruising them:
- For bananas that are not quite ripe, they will ripen more quickly in a warm environment, so on the kitchen counter is probably the best spot.
- For bananas that are ripe, they should be stored in a cool, dark area, like a pantry, so that the ripening process will be slowed down and they will last longer.
If bananas are fully ripe and you want them to last a little longer, store them in the refrigerator, which will stop the ripening process. The skin will turn dark, but the taste of the bananas will not be affected.
Bananas that are fully ripe can also be pureed or sliced and frozen for use in breads, cakes, and smoothies.
Banana Storage Tips
One thing that can be done to protect bananas is to hand them up so that they will not be handled or bumped as much will prevent them from becoming bruised. A hanging stand like this one found on Amazon is an excellent item to have in the kitchen.
Here are some other tips:
- Avoid storing bananas near other fruits because some fruits, like apples, will speed up the ripening process for bananas.
- Avoid wrapping bananas in plastic or putting them into plastic bags, as they will rot quickly in plastic.
- If a banana has been cut, add a little lemon or pineapple juice to stop it from turning brown.
How Can I Tell If A Banana Has Gone Bad?
A few things to watch for that will tell you that a banana has gone bad and should be discarded are:
- If the peel is broken or has split open and the banana underneath is black.
- If the banana is very soft.
- If the banana has developed an odd smell.
If any of these things are obvious, then it is time to just discard or compost the banana.
However, If a banana is just overripe, don’t throw it away; simply peel it, put it into a plastic bag, and freeze it to be used in banana breads and cakes. The overripe and juicy bananas will add extra flavor to your banana breads and cakes.
Can Bananas Be Composted?
Bananas and almost all other fruits can be composted. In fact, they make the compost nutrient rich for your garden.
So, the next time you are ready to just toss a banana into the garbage, remember that it would make an excellent addition to your compost.
Simply cut the banana into small slices that are about 2 inches long and add them to your compost as a great source of nitrogen, potassium, calcium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, and phosphates. And be sure to add the whole banana, peel, and all, but if you are eating the banana, go ahead and toss the peel into the compost.
I hope this article has been helpful. Here is that amazing recipe for banana bread that I promised earlier!
Anne’s Banana Bread
- 3 large ripe Bananas
- 1 cup Granulated Sugar
- 2 Eggs
- ½ cup Butter, melted
- 1 ½ Tablespoons Buttermilk or Sour Cream
- 2 cups All Purpose Flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
- ½ teaspoon Baking Soda
- 1 teaspoon Lemon Juice or Vanilla Extract
- 1 cup Nuts, chopped pecans or walnuts
- Preheat oven to 350℉.
- Grease and flour 1 loaf pan.
- In a large mixing bowl or blender, combine the bananas, sugar, eggs, butter, buttermilk or sour cream, and vanilla extract and mix well with a mixer or blender.
- In another mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and baking soda and stir to mix well.
- Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix only until combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and place it on a rack in the center of the oven.
- Bake at 350℉ for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean. This recipe often takes 5 to 10 minutes longer to bake, but I start checking at about 55 minutes and watch it closely to avoid overcooking.
- Most recipes say to let the cakes or sweet breads stand for 15 minutes before turning out of the pan, but I always turn them out right away. Just use a knife around the edges if it seems to be stuck around the rim of the pan and then start gently shaking them to loosen, and they usually come right out.
Enjoy, and thanks for stoppin’ by!
For more, don’t miss How to Fix Undercooked Banana Bread (4 Easy Steps).
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