Bananas are the most consumed fruit in the US; the average US adult consumes about 25 pounds of bananas per year. Why do we love bananas so much? They are a sweet, healthy, easy portable snack, and they are cheap despite the fact they are not grown in the US but grown in the tropical regions of the world.
They are considered easier to digest and are often recommended to eat when the digestive tract is not feeling well.
Bananas are picked when they are under-ripe and continue to ripen as they travel to the grocery store and after purchase.
Eating bananas at any stage of ripeness is safe, and there are health benefits of eating bananas no matter what phase of ripeness they are.
Whether or not you put your bananas in the refrigerator can depend on if you want to speed up the ripening process or slow it down.
Bananas will ripen faster if they are left out of the refrigerator which can help turn green bananas yellow faster. If bananas are ripe and you don’t want them to get over ripe, putting them in the fridge can help slow down the ripening process.
What happens when bananas ripen?
One of the main differences between a green and yellow banana is the type of carbohydrate in them.
Green bananas have a higher starch content, but as the banana ripens, the starch gets broken down into simpler carbohydrate units.
This is also why riper bananas are sweeter and softer than unripe bananas.
The antioxidant levels in bananas can also change with the ripening process. Green bananas can have lower antioxidant levels compared to riper yellow and brown bananas.
Store them at room temperature to ripen
Storing bananas at room temperature continues the ripening process. If you buy a bunch of slightly green bananas, a few days out on the counter will turn them yellow.
What do you do when you want to speed up the ripening process?
Chiquita (1) recommends putting the unripe bananas in a brown paper bag with an apple or tomato overnight. This should increase the ripening process.
Refrigerate them to slow ripening process
What if your bananas are starting to ripen too fast before you can eat them all?
This is when putting the bananas in the refrigerator can be handy. Putting bananas in the refrigerator will have the opposite effect of putting them in a brown paper bag.
Putting bananas in the refrigerator can slow down the ripening process.
You can’t store bananas in the refrigerator indefinitely, but they can last for a couple weeks. The skin on bananas in the frig may start to turn a dark brown or black which can look unappealing, but the banana should be fine so don’t let that deter you.
What to do with over ripe bananas: freezer
What do you do if your bananas go from ripe to over ripe and you don’t want to make banana bread right away?
Instead of pitching them, store them in the freezer. For easiest use, peel the bananas before putting them in the freezer and cut into chunks. Store in air tight containers or zip lock freezer bags.
This source of frozen bananas can be used for baked goods, smoothies or used as a base for ice cream (often called nice cream).
This may be your new favorite way to enjoy bananas! You can make ice cream with just some frozen bananas, dairy or non-dairy liquid and optional ingredients such as nut butter, cocoa powder, liquid sweetener, etc.
Conclusion: counter top, refrigerator or freezer?
The best place to store bananas could be either: the counter top, refrigerator or even the freezer depending on how ripe the bananas are and where you want them to be.
If you want them more unripe and closer to green, you would do best eating them soon after purchasing and storing in the refrigerator to slow down the ripening process.
The skin may turn dark brown or black, but the banana itself will be fine.
If you want to speed up the ripening of bananas, keep them out of the refrigerator and at room temperature.
You could even put them in a brown paper bag overnight to speed up the ripening process if your bananas are really green.
What do you do if your bananas got too ripe too quick? Unfortunately, you can’t undo the ripening process once it’s started.
If your bananas are past being edible on their own and you don’t want to use them up right away, peel them and put them in the freezer.
This can give you a base for making a healthier version of ice cream when you have time for it or give you ripe bananas you can use for making baked goods or to put in smoothies.