Have you got a bunch of bananas that just won’t seem to ripen up? Green bananas aren’t any good for munching. They make terrible banana bread, they’re hard, and they have no flavor.
It can be frustrating when you buy bananas only to have them sitting on the counter for days. You stare at them longingly, but your gaze alone won’t make them ripen any more rapidly.
Fortunately, there are ways you can cut down on time spent waiting for your bananas to reach optimal snack ripeness. We’re here to help you out on your quest for the perfect snack by showing you how to ripen bananas quickly.
We’ll explore the easiest and most popular methods around, so you’ll never be at a loss with green bananas again. All of these methods are safe and can be done right at home. Ready to get ripe? Let’s go.
How to Ripen Bananas Quickly: How it Works
If you want to know how to ripen bananas quickly, you must first understand how the ripening process works and the changes that bananas go through during this time.
Bananas are typically harvested when they are still green. This ensures that the supply chain gets the most bang out of their banana buck — when fruits are harvested green, they’re less likely to rot on the way to their destination.
As they begin to ripen, bananas go through a process of fundamental change. They basically convert from a starch to a sugar. During this stage of ripening, bananas emit ethylene. This is a hormone which aids in the process of ripening.
From when they are harvested to when they are ready to eat, bananas need about 8 days to ripen. However, this can vary greatly depending on the temperature and other environmental factors.
But you don’t want to wait that long. Let’s get started with learning how to ripen bananas quickly.
How to Ripen Bananas Quickly: The 3 Best Methods
Ready to dive into the 3 best methods of ripening bananas?
Here they are.
1. The Brown Paper Bag Method
For fairly rapid ripening, use the brown bag method. You’ll need to gather together all the bananas you want to ripen, a brown paper bag, and another piece of fruit. Not just any other piece of fruit will do, however. You need another one which produces the hormone ethylene.
Ethylene is even used by professionals in special ripening rooms built to help bananas ripen quickly. Since ethylene helps plants ripen, it’s a good idea to gather as many fruits as you can which produce it naturally.
Essentially, this method allows you to build your own mini ripening room inside the bag — albeit, without the specially manufactured ethylene gas used by ripening facilities. You’ll be using the natural ethylene from the bananas and the other fruits which produce them.
Other fruits which contain ethylene include apples, tomatoes, cantaloupe, figs, kiwis, grapes, papayas, plums, peaches, pears, and quite a few others. You can also use bananas which are already ripe or even overripe.
Place your bunch of unripe bananas into the bag along with the other fruit of your choice. Seal the top of the bag as best you can by rolling it up into itself like a snail. Sealing the bag allows for the ethylene to become concentrated, speeding up the ripening process. Be careful handling it, or you’ll bruise your bananas.
Place the bag in a warm place like on top of the fridge or somewhere with lots of sunlight. You can even leave them outside, but be careful of critters who have a sweet tooth coming to steal them. After 24 hours, check and see if they’re ripe.
Depending on their level of maturity, they may become ripe in 24 hours. If they aren’t, leave them for another 12 hours. Avoid opening the bag and checking them constantly, as this lets out ethylene. At the maximum, this method should take you 48 hours.
2. The Oven-Baked Banana Method
Is a 48-hour period just too long to wait for your bananas?
You can ripen them in just a few minutes with the oven method. A word of warning to the avid banana-munchers among us: this method isn’t good for all purposes. Here are a few things to keep in mind when using this method:
- Texture: The oven tends to make the bananas quite mushy. It can turn them into melting yellow sticks of gooeyness, and that’s great for baking. However, you probably wouldn’t want to eat one of those bananas whole or as a snack. You can’t slice them, they just fall apart.
- Usability: The oven method is best to use for when you’ve got a hankering for banana bread, pie, or any other confectionary which requires our long yellow friends. All you’ll need is a tray, a fork, an oven, and preferably some wax paper.
- Flavor: Banana recipes usually call for soft or overripe bananas, which are very gooey and sweet. While the oven will change the texture of your bananas, it cannot enhance the flavor. So, choose bananas which are already sweet but too firm to bake, or be prepared to add sugar or honey to the recipe.
Set the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. While it is heating up, score the skin of the banana with a fork. This is optional, but it will help the heat penetrate into the banana and speed up the ripening process. Then, line your baking tray with wax paper. Place the tray in the oven and let the heat work its magic on your bananas. You want them to be black before you remove them. Wait about 15 minutes before checking them, but don’t expect them to be fully ripe. Some sources report wait times of 30 minutes to an hour.
Because of the score marks on the skin of the banana, some of it could leak out when things start to get gooey. Even if you don’t score it, the heat could split it — and that’s one banana split you won’t want to eat as-is. But it’s fine for baking, as you can just scrape the guts into a bowl. However, it could wreak havoc on cleanup. The wax or parchment paper helps keep everything neat and makes cleanup a breeze.
3. The Riper Microwave Method
Don’t want to wait half an hour for your bananas? You don’t have too. You can ripen the bananas in the microwave, too. The best part about this method is that it is super-simple and super-quick. You’ll want to score the banana skins just as you would with the oven method.
Then, you’ll place it on a heat-safe plate. Pop the plate in the microwave and let it cook for 30 seconds. If it’s still not ripe, let it cook for another 30 seconds. That should bring your green banana to a softer yellowish-brown color.
Like with the oven method, don’t expect your banana to come out ready to eat raw. Although this method is perfect for cakes, breads, and smoothies, you’ll still wind up with something which is pretty messy.
However, you can put a microwaved banana directly into the refrigerator. Leave it for about an hour or so to firm it back up. Once it has regained some of its hardness, you can slice it and eat it as-is. This is by far the quickest method and works well for those who care more about a fruit’s texture and taste rather than its looks.
How to Ripen Bananas Quickly: Buy Right and Store Properly
If you want to have ripe bananas all the time, there are things you can do to help yourself. You’ll need to know how to store them in your home, and how to pick them out in the grocery store.
When buying bananas in the grocery store, consider your needs before making your choice. Buying totally green bananas could mean waiting up to a week. Try and pick bananas which show signs of yellowing around the edges, as this means they are getting ripe.
If you want to eat bananas every day, the trick is to choose a hand of bananas (yes, it’s really called a hand) on which some of the fruits are ripe, some in the middle, and some still green.
Once you get them home, you’ll need to store them properly. One experiment found that bananas stored on top of the fridge ripened the fastest, taking around 3 days. Storing them on the countertop or under the bed yielded slower results, around 5 days.
Remember that your bananas ripen according to the temperature and humidity around them, as well as their exposure to ethylene. Keeping this in mind will give you greater control over the ripening process.
Learn How to Ripen Bananas Quickly for Tasty Fruit, Fast
Now that you know how to ripen bananas quickly, you’re ready to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Get out a paper bag, fire up the oven, or flip on the microwave for best results and ready-to-use bananas.