Who doesn't love bananas? They're the perfect high-potassium afternoon snack, and they make everything from smoothies to banana bread much better! They're great in sweets of all kinds too, whether you're making healthy desserts or decadent chocolate pies.
Some recipes call specifically for overripe bananas. But what if all the ones in your house are still green? Most bananas at the supermarket are sold underripe, so you're not likely to find what you need there. Luckily, there are several ways you can speed up the ripening process at home, so you can have soft, bread-ready bananas in a matter of days, hours, or even a few minutes!
Read on for tips and tricks to making the most of this super versatile fruit!
Get the recipe: Salty Peanut Banana Pudding
Method 1: Place Them in a Warm Spot
The first thing to know is that bananas ripen faster in a bunch, so make sure to leave them bunched together.
Storing bananas in a warm spot will also help them ripen quickly, according to Chiquita, that banana brand we all know and love. A windowsill that gets a lot of direct sunlight should work well, but you can also store them on top of your refrigerator near the back where the heating element is located. (Dust it first!) Depending on how green the bananas are when you bring them home, they could ripen in as soon as twenty-four hours, though it might take a couple of days if they’re extra green.
Method 2: A Brown Paper Bag
Some fruits emit ethylene gas as they ripen, which, in turn, can ripen other fruits. According to the UCSD School of Medicine, some fruits that produce ethylene gas are apples, avocados, peaches, pears, peppers, tomatoes, and, yes, bananas.
To help bananas ripen faster, place them in a paper bag where the ethylene gas can accumulate. Fold or clip the top of the bag shut, which will seal the ethylene inside. You can also speed things up by adding a ripe apple, tomato, or other ethylene-producing fruit to the bag. Your green bananas should be perfectly yellow within a day or two!
Get the recipe: One-Bowl Chocolate Banana Bread
Method 3: The Oven
When baking with bananas, you often want them to be overly ripe: not simply spotted, but squishy and turning brown. This is when nearly all of the starches have turned into sugars, and bananas are at their sweetest. Then they can be mashed and go into muffins, cakes, or other baked goods.
If you need your bananas to reach that overly ripe stage immediately, try baking them in the oven. The folks at Chiquita recommend using yellow or semi-ripe bananas (not green bananas) for this method. And be aware: while this method does yield soft, sweet, brown bananas, they aren't quite as delicious as bananas that have been allowed to ripen naturally.
To use this method, preheat your oven to 300°F. Separate your bananas, leaving the peel on, and arrange them on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, turning them halfway through. Continue to bake until they’re completely black. This may take up to 40 minutes, depending on the size and ripeness of the banana. Let them cool, scoop out the pulp, and get baking.
Method 4: The Air Fryer
If you don't want to heat up your whole house using the oven, you can achieve similar results in an air fryer. Line your air fryer basket with a basket liner, perforated parchment paper, or aluminum foil. This helps with cleanup, as bananas can burst or leak while cooking! Arrange unpeeled bananas in a single layer. Set the air fryer to 300°F and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until the peel is completely black. The bananas are good to go once they’ve cooled back to room temperature.
Get the recipe: Griddled Banana Bread with Sorghum Syrup
Method 5: The Microwave
In a pinch, you can ripen bananas in the microwave, but we don't really recommend it unless you have no other options available, as it doesn’t really let the natural sugars develop in quite the same way. Chiquita recommends adding an extra pinch of sugar to your recipe if you use this method.
Start by peeling the bananas, and then microwave them one at a time to ensure they’re evenly heated throughout. Place the peeled banana on a microwave-safe dish and heat for 30 seconds. They’ll be nice and hot afterwards so let them cool back to room temperature before using.
Storing Ripe Bananas
If you find yourself with bananas that are too ripe and will more than likely go bad before you have a chance to use them up, Chiquita says ripe bananas will keep in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to eight weeks. This way you’ll have some ripe bananas ready to go whenever you need them.
Very ripe bananas (the brown and mushy ones) can be peeled, sliced (if you want), and stored in sealed freezer bags in the freezer! From there, they can be put directly into a smoothie or shake, or thawed and used for baking.
If you’ve got the urge to make all the banana recipes now, you might want to try this Banana Bread with Salted Peanut Streusel. These PB&J Pancakes are easy to whip up and would be perfect for brunch this weekend. Or start your day off with a classic Peanut Butter-Banana Smoothie.
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