You’re all set to make your world-famous chocolate-banana babka: The oven’s preheated, your mise en place is ready and, to be honest, you’re really just craving dessert. The only problem: Your bananas aren’t ripe yet. Have no fear. Here's how to quickly ripen bananas three different ways.
How to Quickly Ripen Bananas at Home
The Oven Method
A quick stint in the oven speeds up the ripening process. Like avocados, bananas give off ethylene gas, which is typically released slowly. Add heat to the equation and the ripening process gets sped way up. The bananas will turn black in the oven, so this method is best if you're cooking or baking with them—the heat will bring out all their sugar.
- Preheat the oven to 250°F.
- Place the bananas on a parchment- or foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes.
- Remove the bananas and incorporate into your recipe.
The Microwave Method
This kitchen appliance was *made* for last-minute projects. If you have a bunch of hard bananas and a sudden hankering for banana bread, a quick zap in the microwave will do the trick. This method works best with partially-ripe fruit.
- Take a fork and poke holes all over an unpeeled banana.
- Place the banana on a microwave-safe plate or paper towel. Microwave for 30 seconds.
- Remove if it's to your desired softness. If it's not, continue to microwave the banana in 30-second intervals until it's to your liking.
The Paper Bag Method
It all comes down to gas. As bananas ripen, the peels release ethylene. The more concentrated contact the banana has with the gas, the quicker it'll ripen. Enter this paper bag hack, which traps ethylene inside and speeds ripening. If you want to make it even faster (like overnight), add another fruit that releases ethylene to the bag, like an avocado or apple. Whatever you do, don't use a plastic bag—it doesn't let enough oxygen in, so it can actually slow the ripening process. This method is great if you know you'll need a ripe banana in advance; it'll take about one to three days depending on the banana's initial ripeness.
- Place a banana in a paper bag.
- Close the bag loosely and let it sit at room temperature for 24 hours.
- Once the banana is yellow and soft, remove it and enjoy. You may need to wait an additional 24 or 48 hours for it to be ripe.
More Tips on Ripening Bananas
- Always leave green bananas in a bunch. The more bananas, the more ethylene gas and the quicker they'll ripen.
- Underripe bananas can also be helped along by being kept in a fruit bowl with pears, apples and other fruits that release ethylene.
- Storing underripe bananas in a warm place like on top of the fridge, in front of a sunny window or near a heater can help them yellow in 24 to 48 hours.
Tips for Avoiding Over-Ripening
- Once they're yellow, separate them to avoid brown spots and speedy browning. Turn to the fridge once they're at ideal ripeness to keep them that way for longer.
- If you've already separated the bananas and they're ripe or browning, wrap each of their stems tightly with plastic wrap. This will isolate the ethylene gas and slow the ripening process so you get to actually eat them before they turn dark and mushy.
- To store a partially-eaten banana, no matter the ripeness, cover the opened end of the banana with plastic wrap to seal the stem and any split in the peel. Then, place it in an airtight container in the crisper drawer of your fridge for one to two days.
- If you have too many ripe bananas and too little time, fear not. There's always the freezer. For bananas at their peak, peel them and freeze in a freezer-safe container or freezer bag. If they've already started to brown, first peel and slice the bananas into rounds. Line a baking sheet with the slices in a single layer and freeze until solid, about 2 hours. Then, store the slices in freezer bags for up to three months.
Ready to cook? Here are a few of our favorite recipes that call for bananas.
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