How to Freeze Bananas
Keep that fruit appealing for smoothies, baking and more.
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By Katherine Lok for Food Network Kitchen
Frozen bananas aren't just for baking banana bread and whipping up fruit smoothies. They can be turned into ice creams, banana pops and so much more! You'll want to be sure not to end up with a mushy brown mess, though. Here are the best methods for freezing bananas, plus favorite ways to make the most of this versatile fruit.
You may be tempted to just toss whole bananas in the freezer, skins and all. This won't harm the bananas, per se, but you'll save yourself a lot of time and trouble by peeling them first. Freezing bananas in their peels can be a real pain when it comes time to use them — the skins will become brittle and hard to peel unless they're fully thawed, and you'll still end up with a mushy mess all over your hands once they're peeled.
Before you toss them into the freezer, wait until your bananas are at peak ripeness — they might have a few dark spots, but this just means they're at their sweetest. Peel the bananas and, depending on how you plan to use them, keep them whole, in large pieces or slice them crosswise into slices that are 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. It's best to stick to using whole frozen bananas for baked goods and smaller slices for blended drinks, as adding them whole might put too much strain on your blender. Once frozen, bananas will lose the firm texture that fresh ones have and become mushy when thawed.
For bananas that are whole or in large pieces, arrange them in a single layer in a freezer bag labeled with the date and keep frozen up to 8 months. For banana slices, arrange them in a single layer on a sheet pan lined with parchment, making sure they're not touching. A half sheet pan will fit about 3 sliced bananas, but you can stack slices between layers of parchment paper if you plan to freeze more. Cover the sheet pan in plastic wrap and freeze for at least 2 hours. Then, transfer the banana slices to freezer bags or air-tight containers with the date marked. These are also best used within 6 to 8 months. If you plan to use the bananas quickly, give yourself about two hours for them to freeze through.
How to Use Frozen Bananas
For baked goods like banana bread and muffins, thaw the frozen bananas before using.
Once baked, you won't be able to tell the difference between fresh and frozen! Try them in our favorite recipe for banana bread or toss them into a dump cake with whatever canned fruit you may have on hand. Thawed banana slices are also perfect breakfast additions — just mix them into pancake batter or a steaming batch of oatmeal.
Frozen bananas can be tossed as is into smoothies, milkshakes and even turned into ice cream. For the easiest ice cream ever, freeze large pieces of banana for at least 4 hours or, even better, overnight and add them to a food processor. Puree until smooth, then add in any mix-ins or flavorings you desire — there are limitless possibilities. You'll easily win over hearts and stomachs by whipping up a batch of these kid-friendly Frozen Banana Ice Cream Sandwiches.
You can also turn those banana slices into Frozen Chocolate-Banana Pops, or opt to go all out and make these frozen banana animal pops that are almost too cute to eat. What kid — or adult, for that matter — can resist these when coated in a chocolate shell and decorated like a panda or penguin? They're perfect for make-ahead treats or as a fun way to get creative in the kitchen with kids.