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Ripen Bananas Quickly for Banana Bread, Cakes, Fritters Recipes

Updated on November 14, 2016
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John applies his scientific & research skills (PhD) to develop recipes, food guides, reviews of healthy whole foods, ingredients & cooking

There is nothing so annoying as not having ripe bananas available for baking banana bread, cakes, fritters and other recipes calling for ripe banana - well, don't despair you can ripen bananas quickly. The green ones do not work, either in terms of taste or texture. The ideal ripe banana has just stated to show black spots on the skin and is soft when you press it in the skin.

The good news is that there are several ways of ripening bananas quickly, either in one of two days or in about an hour (including cooling time). There are also several things you can so when buying bananas to ensure you always have a few bananas in a bunch that will ripen every day. Learn these methods in this article.

Bananas, similar to most fruit, transport better when green and unripe than when ripe and soft, and likely to bruise. When there is a mixture of ripe and green bananas in the bin, the ripe ones will help ripen the green ones. Bananas, apples and other fruit emit ethylene and this hastening the ripening.

Preferences differ, but most people regard yellow bananas with a few brown or black spots as a ripe banana
Preferences differ, but most people regard yellow bananas with a few brown or black spots as a ripe banana | Source

Ethylene treatment is used by large fruit suppliers to ripen the fruit that they receive in a green and unripened before distributing the fruit to supplies. You can do something similar by placing unripe bananas in a paper bag with a few holes punched in it with and ethylene-emitting apple or tomato. The holes allow ventilation and the ethylene concentration in the bag will increase and help ripen the bananas. One trick is to buy bananas with a range of shades of yellow and green with varying ripeness if you intend to use them over several days. The ripe ones will help ripen the green ones over several days if they are stored together. Don't let your fruit seller bully you into not breaking the bunches or 'hands' and getting a few bananas from different colored bunches. If you need half a bunch of green ones and half riper yellow ones you have every right to do this.

Commercial Ripening of Bananas

After bananas are picked, they are transported green and hard to a commercial ripening center. Ripe bananas cannot be transported effectively. Over a period of 4-8 days, ethylene gas is released into the storage area to start the ripening process and to stimulate the bananas to start generating their own gas. As they ripen, the banana flesh inside begins to produce more sugar, sweetening their taste and enhancing the fragrance. As bananas ripen they go through skins go through seven color changes indicative of their degree of ripening. They start off being a dark green color, then become a lighter green and then go through various shades of yellow before becoming a darker yellow with brown and black spots. Finally the skin can go black as the banana becomes over-ripe.

How to Tell if a Banana is Ripe

There are many difference of opinion about what is the ideal ripe banana. Preferences also vary with the type of banana. Below is a general guide:

Ripening Bananas Quickly for Baking

The following methods can be used to quickly ripen your green banana so that they can be used for baking banana bread, cookies, slices, fritters and other recipes requiring ripe bananas:

Ripening Bananas by Heating

Bananas will ripen quicker when exposed to moderate natural sources of heat, such as in a warm place beside a window. Place them on a sunny windowsill or in another warm place, even on top of your water heater unit.

Storing Bananas in a Paper Bag with other Ripe Fruit

Ripe bananas release ethylene gas, and so placing green bananas in a paper bag with ripe bananas and loosely sealing the back, or adding a few holes will help ripen the green ones in a few days. Adding a ripe apple or tomato to the bag, or both, also increases the ethylene gas concentration and quickens the ripening process.

Ripening Bananas in Plastic Bags

Placing bananas in a plastic bag, with a fee holes, will also speed-up their ripening although the bananas may become discolored or soft because there is less ventilation.

Ripening Bananas in a Microwave Oven

To ripen bananas very quickly you can use a microwave oven. This is not a real ripening process but it enhances the flavor and softens the flesh. Prick the skin in several places and make sure that the piercing extends right through the thick outer skin of the green bananas to the flesh inside. Microwave one or two bananas at a time on high heat setting for about 30-90 seconds. Set aside to cool before peeling and using in the recipes.

Ripening Bananas in a Conventional Oven

Bananas ripen faster when placed in a low oven. You can put the bananas on a tray and place them in an oven that has been turned off after cooking something else. Or you can heat them for 30-45 minutes in an oven with a temperature of about 200-300 degrees F (degrees C) for cooking. The skin will blacken, but the flesh will be softer and sweeter.Use a lower temperature and a shorter time if you want to eat them fresh. Cool the bananas before peeling.

Banana Stands

Banana stands can be used to slowly ripen bananas. They are also called banana trees or swings. The idea is to suspend individual bananas from a hook over a bowl of other fresh fruit that releases ethylene and helps the bananas ripen faster.

© 2012 Dr. John Anderson


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