Bananas are one of the most widely consumed fruits - most of us keep some at home. And that's for good reasons. Bananas offer a variety of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, manganese, magnesium and they are high in fibre.
How do bananas ripen?
Bananas are transported over long distances to reach their intended market. To keep them fresh they are picked when they are still green. Once the bananas arrive at their destination a small controlled release of ethylene is used to trigger the natural ripening process.
Ethylene - otherwise know as the ripening hormone - is a small hydrocarbon gas. It is naturally occurring, but it can also occur as a result of combustion and other processes. You can't see or smell it. Some fruit will produce ethylene as ripening begins. Apples, pears and bananas are examples of fruit that produce ethylene with ripening. Ethylene is responsible for the changes in texture, softening, color, and other processes involved in ripening. Fruits such as cherries and blueberries do not produce much ethylene and it doesn't influence their ripening.
How should bananas be stored?
Bananas should be stored at room temperature. The warmer the temperature, the faster bananas will ripen.
However, if you want to slow down the ripening process, store ripe bananas in the fridge. The peel of the banana will quickly look rotten, but this won't affect the banana itself. Bananas should last for about a week in the fridge.
You can also slow the ripening process of a banana by keeping the banana away from other fruits, including the bananas from the same bunch. Bananas put off large amounts of ethylene, which quickens the ripening process significantly.
It is important not to put the bananas in the refrigerator before they are ripe, as they may not resume the ripening process - even if they are returned to room temperature.
To encourage faster ripening, place the banana in a paper bag at room temperature. The trapped ethylene will quickly ripen the fruit, and the paper bag will still let enough oxygen in to keep the ripening process going smoothly. Putting fresh bananas in the same bag as an overripe banana will rapidly accelerate the ripening process of the fresh bananas.
How to freeze bananas:
No need to through out bananas! Ripe bananas can be kept in the freezer for up to 4 months.
To make it easier to use, peel the ripe bananas, cut them into chunks and put them on a tray lined with parchment paper. Make sure that the pieces don't touch and freeze them for about 30 minutes. Once frozen, transfer to a plastic bag and squeeze out all the air.