Bananas are an affordable, delicious fruit that offers not only great taste and value but also offers many excellent health benefits including being a wonderful source of potassium, which helps to control blood pressure (and of course prevent painful muscle cramps) and a natural antacid effect which helps to protect the stomach from ulcers. In fact, the only downside to them is that they have a comparatively short life expectancy – it is not easy to keep bananas fresh. Unfortunately, storing bananas in the refrigerator only accelerates the browning reaction because the lower temperature causes the breakdown of cells, so bananas should be stored at room temperature until they are ripe and then kept in the refrigerator to keep them from ripening further.
Bananas naturally grow in warmer climates, so they will brown sooner in the summertime than in the winter — warmth speeds up the ripening process, and yellow skinned bananas will turn brown quickly, both inside and out, giving them only two days or so of freshness. For best results and longer shelf-life one should purchase greener bananas and allow them to ripen, then place them in the refrigerator once they have ripened; the skin will turn brown but the fruit will remain white and firm, extending the bananas’ freshness for up to four days after it ripens.
If you buy bananas and they are not as ripe as you would like them you can speed up the ripening process by placing the bananas in a paper bag for a day or two, the skin may still be green but the flesh of the fruit will be soft and sweet.
If your bananas become overly ripe put them in the freezer, the banana will turn brown or even black, but it will retain its sweet flavor and be perfect for cooking and baking after it is thawed, it will be mushy and sweet tasting, perfect for foods like banana bread.
Once a banana has been peeled it has a natural tendency to start turning brown, this process can be delayed or even stopped by misting it or dipping it in an acidic fruit juice like lemon, lime, pineapple or orange. There are also a couple of commercial products that have the same effect. Banana slices should be rubbed or brushed with fruit juice, avoid immersing the slices in juice, because this will make them soggy.
Always store bananas away from other fruits because they release a lot of ethylene gas which will speed up the ripening of any produce located close to them.
Mark Gold has more than 27 years of experience in the Food and Beverage Industry. He has written numerous articles on foods and food preservation.