We've all been there. After buying a nice green bunch of bananas, you often think you have several days (maybe even a week) to use them all up before they turn brown. But we all know bananas have a tendency to ripen pretty quickly.
Perhaps that's why "Pioneer Woman" star Ree Drummond calls them "evil."
Fortunately, much like there are hacks for making produce ripen faster, there are simple ways to prolong a banana's yellow stage. Whether you're working with unpeeled bananas or their peeled counterparts, here are a few anti-ripening hacks to try.
1. Hang them, away from other produce.
Unless they're in fruit salad or smoothies, bananas don't play nicely with other fruits. This is especially true of fruits that release a lot of ethylene gas as they ripen. Ashley Roth MS, RDN at Common Threads told TODAY Food that the biggest culprits behind bananas ripening prematurely are avocados, peaches, tomatoes, apples and figs. So don't buy the fruit bowl with the banana hanger above. Get a separate banana hanger.
Why hang your bananas? It prevents bruising and it also decreases the chance of exposing the banana flesh to oxygen, which will only makes it ripen that much faster.
2. Wrap the stems in plastic wrap.
You may have noticed that some bunches in the store come with their crown wrapped in plastic wrap. Keep it on. Or add plastic wrap at home, if you have to. According to Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN — who also happens to work for Chiquita — much of the ethylene gas that increases the rate at which bananas ripen is released at the top of the bunch. "Wrapping slows down the gas," said Blatner, who is also the Chicago Cubs dietitian and has made thousands of banana-based smoothies over the years. "For even better results, pull the bananas apart and wrap each top separately."
3. Once they ripen, pop them in the fridge.
Cooler temperatures also slow down the chemical ripening process. Once bananas are ripe to your likening, store them in the fridge. It's OK if the peel turns brown, or even black. This color change comes from pigment in the peel. It doesn't impact the fruit inside which should still have a good flavor and texture.
4. If the bananas are peeled, add citrus.
As with apple slices, adding lemon or lime juice to peeled bananas can help preserve their freshness. Basically, the citrus slows down the oxidation process. You can also use lime orange juice or pineapple juice. If you've already sliced the banana, toss it with a teaspoon or two of citrus juice. If the banana is still whole or just halved, you can brush it with the juice. Feel free to dilute the juice with water if needed. Adding citrus will slightly affect the banana's flavor, making it a little tart.
5. Give the bananas a vinegar bath.
This might sound strange but vinegar is another alternative to citrus. Claudia Sidoti, head chef at meal-kit delivery service HelloFresh and former Test Kitchen Director at Food Network, told TODAY that she uses vinegar to keep the fruit slices from "turning into brown mush." As with citrus juice, vinegar may also be diluted with water. If you're still getting a lingering taste of vinegar, simply rinse your bananas well before consuming.
6. For longer periods of time, freeze
If you're keeping bananas for longer than a few days, put them in the freezer instead of the refrigerator. According to Nicole Pomije, the pastry chef/owner behind The Cookie Cups, frozen bananas last at least 30 days. Pomije, who makes banana chocolate cookie cups and banana pancakes every day in her bakery, defrosts them on the counter at room temperature.
Frozen banana chunks are also perfect for smoothies. Make sure to use freezer-safe bags to prevent freezer burn. It's also OK to freeze unpeeled bananas. However, be prepared for the peel to turn completely black. Also, never try to peel a banana while it's still frozen. It's an impossible task and might make you end up hating bananas as much as Drummond.
Need to use them up fast? Try these banana recipes!