How to Make Bananas Last Longer
Here's how to get the better of that bunch.
By Erin Hartigan for Food Network Kitchen
For a food that's an everyday breakfast staple in millions of households, bananas aren't exactly the hardiest, most durable produce. Buying perfectly ripe bananas at the store can sometimes mean that you have only a day or two before they start speckling with brown spots and turning into too-sweet spears meant only for smoothies or baking.
Want to know how to prolong your bunch of bananas for as long as possible? Here are our tips.
Fruit hormones... a primer
It's not just your imagination that bananas ripen quickly. They emit ethylene, which expedites ripening. Think of ethylene as a magic aging potion, which helps fruit skip ahead a few days. This is why, if you want to quickly ripen something like an avocado, you can drop it in a bag with a few bananas, and witness the speedy maturation. Other ethylene-emitting fruits are apples, kiwi, peaches and tomatoes, but though there are dozens, few have quite the hormonal super powers of a banana.
Stem the ripening
One important thing to note about the ethylene-emitting nature of bananas is that it starts with the stem. This is why you'll often see grocers wrap the stems in plastic. This isolates the stems and prevents the ethylene from traveling down the banana to ripen the fruit. It's not a guaranteed method, but it can work, and buy additional time. If your bunch comes wrapped, you might as well leave it that way, even if it is bunched in a number that includes one or two more bananas than you would've otherwise bought. You can also wrap each stem individually.
Leave it hanging
Knowing that bananas themselves emit a ripening agent helps to understand how best to store them. After all, there are benefits beyond just flavor to eating bananas that haven't fully ripened. The most important thing is not to keep them in a closed container. Air circulation is critical. Try hanging the bunch from a specially made banana tree or a hook, or hang the bunch from the side of a wire basket. Hanging also reduces the bruising that come from bananas resting on top of one another on the counter.
If you find yourself with a leftover half of banana, cover it as much as possible with the peel, then wrap it in plastic wrap, including the stem, and store it up to overnight in the refrigerator. You may need to slice off the exposed tip, but the rest should be fine.
Now that you've got a better handle on your bananas, here are a few favorite recipes: