Hello everyone. Welcome to probably the most important blog post of all times. Today I’m going to be talking about how to take good care of your bananas.
I know, I know. This probably isn’t that important to most people. But I could also argue that from a happiness and food waste and food saftey prospective, it could be important or useful to some people.
Most people who know me IRL or via Instagram associate me with bananas. What began as sort of a joke turned into a thing, and now I have banana socks, people constantly tag me on all banana-related things on the internet, etc etc. Heck, on my last day at Trader Joe’s, the crew even bought me a whole dang box of 100 bananas (thanks store 724, I love you all forever)!
Now, I am not a big fan of people writing about things they don’t know about. This is why I don’t write about sports or jewelry making or knitting or music. It is also why I get so very peeved by everyone thinking they are qualified to write about nutrition, health, and the environment when the only education they’ve had has been from Google University or Sponsored College. So I guess since I’m not a true banana expert, I feel a bit weird putting out this information.
That said, I am a certified FDA FSMA food safety and quality certified individual, so I do know a few things about keeping food safe. But regardless, please note that this article is intended to be light-hearted, informative, and fun.
(^^Me trying to justify writing an article without citing peer-reviewed literature for every single thing I mention for two straight paragraphs)
So read on for some super useful tips on how to pamper bananas. I hope you enjoy! Leave post ideas below. I’m committed to this every other day blogging in April thing!
1. Buy Organic If You Can
I know that buying organic produce is a privilege and not realistic depending on a person’s physical access to organic bananas or may face economic barriers that make purchasing organic bananas difficult. But if you have access to organic bananas, I’d say they are worth the extra splurge.
I find since they are not gassed before shipment, they are easier to control in terms of shelf life, which helps me minimize food waste. And also, I personally find organic bananas taste much better. I never bought organic bananas until my co-worker at Trader Joe’s told me I was missing out on the next level of banana flavor town. And I gotta admit, one bite later, I was a believer (thanks Adam)! I don’t know how else to describe it other than they have a distinctly more vanilla-like flavor. Do you agree or disagree? Let me know down below.
2. Make them last longer by keeping the plastic wrap on the stem top.
Ever wonder why there’s a plastic wrap top around the banana stem bunch? That’s to contain the ethylene gas naturally emitted by bananas. When the bananas are all bunched together and the plastic is in place, it slows the ethylene from ripening down all the bananas at a faster rate. I learned this fun fact while working at Trader Joe’s.
If you want them to ripen faster, simply remove the plastic wrapper top. The only bummer about this whole thing is the use of plastic. Sigh. We’ll get there one day universe!
3. To avoid bruising, always pack your bananas at the top of your groceries.
I always pack my own groceries. Nothing makes me more upset than a bagger putting bananas or apples at the bottom of my bag and then getting home to find bruised produce. Ugh!
To avoid getting all peeved, I pretty much always bag my own groceries. Working at Trader Joe’s also gave me plenty of grocery-packing practice and skills and now I sort of enjoy the whole event. To me, it’s like a mini tetris game. What a thrill!
When it comes to the bruise-prone banana, bananas are, in my opinion, best packed flipped curve down at the top to avoid bruising (also yes I use my backpack as a grocery bag…no car life)!
4. Make them ripen faster by placing in a bag.
Everyone knows this. But some bonus pointers: make sure you place this bag someplace warm yet dry. Bonus points if you can add a ripe other piece of fruit or ripe banana along side it.
5. If your bananas are ripe and you want to stall the ripening, simply place them in the refrigerator.
Before about 4-5 years ago, it never occurred to me that you could store bananas in the refrigerator. But you most definitely can.
When your bananas are encroaching a level of ripeness you find worrisome, simply place them in the refrigerator, and they will last quite a bit longer. In my experience, this will give you another 4-7 days shelf life.
Yes, they will be cold, so if that bothers you, simply allow them to come to room temperature prior to consumption.
6. For the best banana bread (in my opinion), use very overripe bananas.
Like, I’m talking almost mushy. They should be super soft and look like a spotted yellow cow! This will give you the deepest, sweetest banana flavor as the starches in the fruit break down. I’ve also found I can usually omit or half the sugar in most recipes if I use super brown bananas.
7. If you can’t wait for your bananas to ripen for baked goods, bake the bananas first.
Yup, game changer. If you have greenish bananas but want banana bread NOW simply roast your bananas before adding them to your baked goods batter. Simply preheat the oven to 400°F, place bananas on a lined a baking sheet with parchment paper or (preferably) a silicone baking mat, and roast for 15-20 minutes until blackened. Allow to cool, remove the peel, and add inner mush to batter of choice.
I sometimes even like to do this with perfectly ripe bananas to get a more caramelized banana flavor in my banana breads and muffins. Try it and thank me later.
A lot of people don’t know this, and it’s the easiest trick in the book. If you want your bananas to last longer, stick them in the fridge. You’ll get another 4-7 days shelf life out of them. Yes, they will be chilled when you eat them. So if cold bananas freak you out for some reason, try another preservation method or allow them to come to room temperature before consuming.
8. If you only want half a banana, leave the peel on the half you intend to save.
It will stay fresher!
9. When your bananas go brown and you want to freeze them, do yourself a favor by peeling and slicing before freezing.
This makes using them later so much easier! Save yourself a sticky messy hassle later by removing peels before slipping into a (preferably reuseable) bag and placing them in the freezer.
9. Slice overripe bananas and freeze for an east DIY dog treat.
Millie adores her “frozen banana coins” as sweet treats on a hot (or let’s face it, any weathered) day.
10. When packing your lunch or snacks, pack your bananas separate.
Otherwise you will end up with your sandwich, pretzels, crackers, cookies, or whatever else you may have that isn’t sealed with background banana flavor.
To avoid this, I pack my banana in a separate compartment of my backpack or bag, or make sure to remove the banana from close proximity to other foods as soon as possible.
11. Please oh please compost the peels. To avoid rotten banana smells, store them in the freezer.
Banana peels are compostable! And I can’t tell you how often I see them tossed in the garbage. Considering the volume of bananas consumed in this country, I see a movement to compost banana peels as a potential opportunity to make a substantial positive eco-impact. Compost those babies! Please!
And as I mentioned above, if smell is an issue, store your compost bag in the freezer for a smell-free life :-).
12. When life gives you too many bananas, make banachos.
Seriously. My favorite. Recipe here (and poor quality video before I got my new camera below).
Remember, Millie loves you (and bananas) !