Banana ripening: time, tips and tricks

Banana ripening: time, tips and tricks

One too mature can have Brown spots or brown and black stripes on the shell or even being mostly black on the outside. A mushy banana that has some soft spots may also be overripe. Besides being a bit softer than ripe fruits, overripe fruits may have soft spots due to bruising. They also tend to not be as pretty as the perfectly yellow ones, but are still perfectly safe to eat. Overripe ones may taste better than younger ones because the sugar is more concentrated and will have a sweetest taste.

There is a fine line between an overripe banana and a banana that has gone bad, and the transition can happen very quickly. Since a banana that is overripe but safe to eat can have a lot of black on the skin, it is difficult to tell if a banana is too ripe to eat by eye alone. rotten banana will have mold on the skin or stem. Occasionally, a banana peel will split open and mold will grow in the crack. This mold can be hard to see because it blends in with the color of the flesh inside the shell.

Aside from mold, there are a few other signs that a banana is rotting. Usually the most obvious sign is a musty or decaying odor. Any sign of spoilage should be interpreted as unsafe to eat. You may also leak fluid or feel as if there is fluid under the skin.

Once peeled, a banana can show even more signs that it has gone bad. It should have a white or cream colored flesh. One that is too ripe to eat or has gone bad may brown on the inside.

Why do they turn brown?

Like many other tropical fruits, they are significantly affected by the ethylene gas. Ethylene is a natural plant hormone, but is also used in the agricultural industry to stimulate ripening. As bananas age, the amount of ethylene gas they release increases, leading to brown and eventually black spots and streaks. Although ethylene gas is essential for ripening over time, it causes them to soften and rot. We can delay this process by placing the bananas in the fridge. Cold weather suppresses ethylene gas and gives bananas a longer life.

In general, overripe bananas they are safe to eat. They contain more vitamin C and antioxidants than green or ripe fruits. However, overripe ones contain a lot of sugar and can upset some people’s stomachs.

Techniques for ripening bananas

If we want to ripen bananas, there are different techniques that depend on the amount of time we have.

paper bag

As bananas naturally ripen, the peels give off ethylene gas. The higher the concentration of ethylene in the air surrounding the banana, the faster it will ripen. We can take advantage of the ripening properties of ethylene at home by putting the banana in a closed paper bag; the paper will trap the ethylene while letting in enough oxygen to help the process move forward. For an even faster ripening, we will add an apple, a pear, an apricot or an avocado; as they also release ethylene.

When trying this technique, it is important don’t use a plastic bag because it won’t allow enough oxygen in and can actually inhibit ripening. That’s why bananas at the grocery store are often packaged in plastic, to prevent them from ripening too soon.

Depending on how unripe the bananas were to begin with, ripening in a paper bag will take 1-3 days; putting the bag on top of the fridge or another warm place can speed it up even more. Checking daily is recommended, and when the bananas are firm and bright yellow with no trace of green, they are good to eat raw.

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If we want to make a recipe with bananas and we don’t have any ripe, we can do a quick maturation in the oven.

  1. Preheat the oven to 150ºC and cover a baking tray with silicone or parchment. Bananas may leak a bit during cooking.
  2. Place the unpeeled bananas on the baking tray leaving a little space between them and bake for about half an hour. Check every 15 minutes to see if they are soft enough. The less ripe the bananas are to begin with, the longer they will take.
  3. The skins will turn black when done and the fruit will be soft, too soft to eat raw, but great for baking.


We can bring firm yellow bananas to soft ripeness in just a few minutes. The technique of ripening bananas in the microwave is:

  1. Prick the unpeeled bananas all over with a fork or knife.
  2. Then place them on a paper towel or plate and microwave on high for 30 seconds at a time, repeating until they’re as soft as you like.

These bananas won’t be as sweet as the oven-ripened versions, but they can be mashed for quick pancakes and banana breads.

bunch of ripe bananas

How to prevent them from ripening fast?

But we are not always interested in ripening bananas fast. Perhaps we have bought a large quantity or we want to consume them at the end of the week. For that there are some tips that make the maturation slow down.

take them out of the bag

If the bananas come in a plastic or paper bag, we will remove the bag immediately after we return from the store. Bananas stored inside a bag will only ripen faster, as ethylene, or the gas given off by bananas to speed up ripening, will build up in the bag.

Ethylene is produced by many fruits, including apples, peaches, and tomatoes. It is excellent if we want to mature the products quickly, not so much if we want to keep them as long as possible.

wrap the stems

We may have noticed that bananas in the supermarket often come in bunches with plastic wrap around the stem. This is because, unwrapped, the ethylene emitted by the stem can travel down and ripen the fruit.

If the bananas come pre-wrapped, we will leave it that way. If not, we can either wrap the entire bunch of stems in plastic wrap or separate the bananas and wrap each individual stem in plastic wrap.


Wrapping the stems as a bunch is a good start, but because there are spaces between them, it is possible for some of the ethylene to escape when the bananas are wrapped as a bunch.

Separating bananas and wrapping them individually is the best way to prevent ethylene from traveling through the fruit. Plus, when we’re ready to eat the bananas, there’s no need to unwrap the stems. We will simply peel the banana from the opposite end and hold it by the wrapped stem.

put them in the fridge

If we notice that the bananas are reaching the point of no return, we will put them in the refrigerator no bag. As they ripen best at room temperature, we will keep them cold to slow down the ripening process.

If we know that we will not consume those bananas before they spoil, we can resort to the freezer. They must be peeled before freezing. We can even freeze them in slices, large chunks, shredded, and even whole, depending on how we want to use them in the future.