If somebody asked us to pick our favourite fruit, we would have a hard time deciding. But one thing is for sure. Bananas would definitely be at the top of our list. Why?
Well, bananas are nature's pudding. They are soft, sweet and delicious. They come in all shapes and sizes. They are cheap and very easy to find. You can eat them all throughout the year - and is there anything better than a tropical flavor in a cold winter day?
This fruit is very versatile, and it makes an excellent ingredient of any lunch box. It also makes for a splendid desert - cake, smoothie, muffin, and of course – banana split. And the best part is that it is very healthy.
They are packed with nutrients. They represent the staple food of many fitness experts for a good reason. If you want to learn more about why this is the case, read about the health benefits of bananas here.
If you are already an avid banana-lover, read on to learn more. You will find out when the bananas are best, how to store them, when to eat them, and a lot more. As a bonus, you can find some useful tips and tricks, as well as our favourite recipes.
Banana Types and Different Preferences
You can get a banana in most stores and supermarkets. There are green, not fully ripe bananas, perfect yellow pieces, and those already developing brown spots. What you find usually depends on the day and sheer chance, but many supermarkets separate very ripe bananas from the green ones.
There are a lot of people with at least mild, and sometimes intense, preferences for certain stages over others. For those who prefer them green, you can probably choose which to buy quite effortlessly. For those who like them riper, however, the purchase sometimes becomes a guessing game.
Why We Struggle
Many health and nutrition experts tell us unprocessed food is the key to a healthy diet. Getting food without food labels is one of the best ways to make sure your nutrition is of the highest quality.
But there's an obvious drawback – lack of food labels also means a lack of information on an expiration date. Even if there is a 'best before' label, it usually refers to the time when the store got made the purchase.
And the real duration of the fruit depends on so much more than just that. If you eat bananas on a daily or weekly basis and there's a sale, you will want to buy in bulk to save time and money. But, you may not be sure if that would be the best way to go.
The general advice would be not to buy more than you approximately eat in a week. Otherwise, your purchase might accidentally go to waste.
But of course, there are ways to use up the leftovers. Read on to learn more. We will talk about the shelf life of bananas and the health benefits of different stages of ripening. We will also give you some tips and tricks to make the best use of your bananas.
How Long Does It Take for Bananas to Ripen?
Keep an eye on the skin colour. It is the best sign of the stage of your banana is in.
If a banana is green, it's not ripe. Over time, it becomes more and more yellow. If you want to make sure it's fully mature, check its tip – the moment it stops being green, it's in the eating prime.
Then brown freckles appear, and it's still edible. If the entire piece of fruit turns brown, though, it is best to use it for baking instead of eating them raw.
The brown shade eventually turns darker and darker. When it becomes black, you should throw the banana away since it's not edible in any way anymore.
Bananas ripen best and most quickly on room temperature. If you buy green bananas in the store and keep them on your kitchen table, you can expect them to become the right shade of yellow in 3-4 days. In that stadium, they have their traditional sweetness and firmness, while still keeping a solid texture.
So What Exactly Is the Difference?
Some people refuse to come near bananas with brown spots. Others are delighted when a supermarket has a sale of bananas. Sales usually happen when the fruit turns brown since then it is a couple of days away from a garbage can.
So does the preference make that much of a difference? Well, a little bit, but ultimately, not so much. All bananas have many health benefits. Generally, the only change that happens is that starch in green bananas turns into sugar in yellow ones. So there are slight differences. Let's take a look.
BENEFITS OF UNRIPE BANANAS
- They contain more starch and less sugar – excellent for people who are trying to lower their sugar intake.
- They keep you full for longer - the starch in green bananas is digested more slowly, great for all dieters out there.
- Unripe bananas have probiotic features – our stomachs can not break down some parts of the starch completely, but gut bacteria welcome it.
BENEFITS OF RIPE BANANAS
- They are easier to digest – when ripe, they contain less starch and more sugar, so they are broken down easily.
- They are higher in antioxidants – eating them will improve your immunity and have anti-inflammatory effects.
- They fight cancer – brown spots on bananas have a chemical which prevents tumour cells from developing
Has Your Banana Gone Bad and Rotten?
Let's say you like your bananas very ripe and sweet, or you have a sensitive stomach. You will then want to choose yellow bananas with brown spots already developing. You will still want to stay safe.
We don’t have to emphasise how vital food hygiene is for avoiding many diseases and food poisonings. So for how long are bananas good to eat?
Bananas are often shipped while they’re still green. By the time they get in your local store, they can be in many different ripening stages.
For green banana-lovers, it will be pretty easy to pick a banana which is not spoiled. If you’re of that kind, just don’t get those with cracks and gashes on the peel. Also, don’t eat completely green, unripe bananas. They, unfortunately, can cause stomach ache and be impossible to digest fully.
Yet, you may sometimes have trouble with determining whether your banana is just the perfect stage of ripe or a bit off. Make sure to check the following.
SIGNS YOUR BANANAS HAVE GONE BAD
- The skin – yellow bananas with some brown spots are perfectly fine; though, if most of the surface is brown, or leathery, stay away from it – it’s either rotten already, or will be spoiled in a day.
- The smell – if the banana smells mouldy or nasty, and looks good on the outside, that usually means it’s rotten on the inside.
- The firmness – a gentle push can tell you a lot, since rotten bananas feel mushy and very soft, and can sometimes leak fluid.
- The inside – when you peel the banana, if there’s just a couple of black spots, simply cut them off and enjoy the rest of your fruit; if most of it is brown already, sadly, you will have to throw it away
How to Prolong the Shelf Life of Your Banana?
Bananas are tropical fruits. Their ideal ripening conditions are warm and humid. We wouldn't call a typical home a tropical environment, but they do ripen reasonably quickly on your kitchen table.
After you buy the bananas, there are three ways in which you can keep them. They can stay at room temperature, in the refrigerator and in the freezer (yes, you can even do that). Let's take a look at how long they last and how can you prolong that for all the options.
- Take them out of the bag - bananas stored in bags, boxes, and other containers will ripen faster.
- Keep them away from warmth sources - such as the stove, the refrigerator, and even direct sunlight.
- Separate them - bananas let out a ripening enzyme and will ripe more quickly when kept together.
- Hang them - if you have a fruit bowl with hangers, you can utilise it to make them last even longer.
- Wrap them – a plastic wrap around the stem of either a bunch or a single banana will slow down the ripening process.
IN THE REFRIGERATOR
- Do not refrigerate green bananas – this can cause them not to become fully ripe later.
- If they are too green, first keep them on room temperature.
- Completely ripe bananas last for 5 to 7 days in the fridge.
- Don't worry if the skin turns black – that happens when they are exposed to the cold, but the flesh of the fruit will remain untouched
IN THE FREEZER
This will change the texture of the banana, so do it if you plan to put them in meals, not eat them raw.
- Cut them up – peel the banana and cut it in circles and then freeze it, it should be excellent for blending later.
- For even longer duration, peel it and mash it, then place it in covered containers or high-quality freezer bags.
- If you store them properly, frozen bananas can last for 2-3 months. They are good for even longer if you keep the temperature at 0 degrees Celcius the entire time.
Cooking with Bananas
You don't have to throw away a bunch which got too ripe for you to eat. With the number of recipes featuring bananas, it is not bad that yours became a bit too ripe.
In general, ripe bananas are used for cooking instead of green ones. That is because their content is mostly sugar at the time.
If you try to maintain a healthy diet, you can always put them in a smoothie or make a sweet and nutritious 'nice cream'.
When you use them in recipes, they don't usually pose a threat to the dish, but be careful anyway. The general advice would be that bananas, as well as all of the other ingredients of a recipe, only last as long as the fastest spoiling one.
Bonus Tip – How to Speed Up the Ripening
This trick may be a bit unexpected, but sometimes it's not about making bananas last longer. For example, you might have bought a bunch of green bananas on sale. You may be craving banana bread or muffins.
You naturally don't feel like waiting for the natural process to occur. The good news is, you can get them to ripen more quickly.
If you can wait for a little bit, use these tricks. Your bananas will ripen in 24-48 hours.
- Keep them in a bunch - bananas give away a ripening enzyme so one ripe banana can influence others. But do make sure to separate those you want to eat raw to extend their lives.
- Put them in a hot place – as we said, tropical fruit ripens more quickly in a warm environment
However, if your patience is growing thin, there are ways to do it even more rapidly. For 12-24 hour results, choose one of these steps.
- Put them in a paper bag – the enzyme we mentioned will circulate the bag and speed up the natural process.
- Put them next to a ripe piece of fruit – ideally, you will use a ripe apple or tomato. These fruits use the same process so they can enhance the ripening.
- For maximum results – a paper bag containing your bananas and a ripe apple (or tomato) will give you a sweet, mature bunch
Okay, we get it, you need them ripe right now. In that case:
- Place them in an oven and regularly check, if they start leaking take them out. You can't do this with overly green bananas. This takes 15-30 minutes.
- Put them in a microwave – first, poke them with a fork a few times, so the skin allows for the heat to come in. Then place them in the microwave for 1-2 minutes.
Now you know the best ways to use different kinds of bananas, so why not give a shot at some of our ideas? It is definitely better than letting them go to waste.
It might sound logical and not like a big deal at first, but this can make a big difference in the way you use your bananas.
The main thing to take out of this is - eat your yellow bananas, make a delicious treat with your brown ones, and get a bunch of green ones for a perfect healthy snack throughout your next week.
We hope this taught you the best ways to use bananas, we are sure you'll enjoy them even more. We will end this with giving you a recipe for your breakfast tomorrow. It is very healthy and extremely straightforward.
Honestly, writing this made us crave a delicious piece of yellow fruit ourselves. See you next time with more useful, accessible information.