Should You Refrigerate Bananas

We’ve all been there: buying a perfect bunch of bananas, only for them to turn brown and spotty after a few days. Don’t get us wrong, we love banana bread as much as the next person, but we’d also prefer to enjoy bananas in their natural state.


So we’re left with the age-old question: how can we extend the life of our produce?


Banana Storage


The answer lies in how you store your bananas. Contrary to popular belief, storing your bananas in the fridge may actually prolong the ripeness stage. Let’s start by explaining some of the science behind it.


There is a myth that refrigerating bananas has a tendency to speed up the decomposition process. After all, if you’ve ever put a bunch of bananas in the fridge, you’ll notice that the peel will soon turn brown. But this is merely an aesthetic response and does not reflect the fruit inside.


In fact, the cold temperatures in the fridge help slow down the conversion of starches into sugar. This process is exactly what causes overripe bananas to be so sweet. So, while the peel may make it seem that your produce is expired, the fruit inside is in its prime state.


Timing is everything when it comes to refrigerating bananas. If you place your produce in the fridge while it’s still green, you’ll slow down the ripening process too early, perhaps even preventing it altogether. You want to allow plenty of time for some of the starches to convert to sugar or else you’ll be left with bitter fruit.


Likewise, putting the bananas in too late will do little in preventing decay. As the fruit begins to break down, it gives off ethylene gas. This plays a major role in speeding up the decay process. In fact, it’s so strong that it will even promote the rapid ripening of other fruits and vegetables nearby. 



When To Refrigerate Your Bananas


The ideal time to place bananas in the fridge is when they are completely yellow and beginning to show signs of small brown spots. At this point, enough of the starches have been converted into sugars and the fruit has its prime flavor, which is what we’re trying to prolong. When stored at this stage of ripeness, they will last up to a week. 


While chilling bananas is the key to keeping them fresh, there are a few other things you can do to help extend their life. For starters, avoid peeling the bananas before you intend on consuming them. While the darkened peel may be unsettling, know that it is no representation of the fruit inside. Exposing the flesh of the fruit to air will only speed up the decay process.


In addition, make sure to pull apart your bunches of bananas before you refrigerate them. While many believe that keeping the fruit together will prolong its freshness, it could actually speed it up. In the instance that one of your bananas begins to decay, splitting them up will reduce the secondhand effect it has on the rest of your produce. 


Refrigerator Placement Matters


Once they’re in the fridge, make sure to place them in the respective produce drawer. Often, these are at the bottom and intentionally closed off from the rest of the contents of the fridge. 


Produce is very sensitive to other forms of decay so placing it next to something like leftovers could promote the opposite effect of what you’re going for. Plus, it’s important to keep your bananas away from the light or the cooling unit. Any excessive heat from the lightbulb can damage the fruit inside while unintended freezing can make it near impossible to peel your banana. 


As time goes on, make sure to clear out any overripe produce from your produce drawer. Just as bananas give off ethylene, plenty of other fruits and vegetables do the same. As much as we’d like to offer advice to prevent these from going bad as well, we’re only attuned to bananas and their unique ripening process.


What To Do With Green Bananas


Since timing is so important for extending the lifespan of your produce, you may be wondering what to do with your green bananas. If you’re interested in refrigerating your bunch but it’s simply not ripe enough, there are a few different things you can do to jumpstart this process. 


For starters, placing your bananas next to ripe fruit can help speed up the process. As mentioned above, the ethylene gas let off by other types of produce can speed up the decay. This also means that it can fast track the time it takes for your bananas to ripen. Just make sure to keep a close eye on the color of your bananas. Without close supervision, your green fruit can quickly turn brown over the course of a day.


If this seems too risky for you, don’t worry, we get it. There are plenty of other ways to get your bananas ready for chilling. Try hanging the bunch from a banana tree. Not only do these special fruit stands help prevent bruising to the flesh, but they also increase airflow to the banana. An oxygen-rich environment will only help speed up the starch to sugar conversion process. 


How ever you decide to store your bunches of bananas, be mindful of one thing: that the space is room temperature. This environment is ideal for ripening as the mild temperature neither slows nor accelerates the starch-sugar breakdown.


The best spot to keep your bananas as they ripen is in your kitchen, in a spot that is hidden from direct sunlight. Also, pay mind to the appliances close by; try to keep your bunch away from heated appliances, like an oven, as well as cooling appliances, like the freezer. After a few days, your bananas will be ready to be placed in the fridge. 


So there you have it, our best-kept secret for keeping your bananas as fresh as possible. With a little preparation, you can extend the life of your produce and significantly cut back on waste. Now that’s something to smile about.

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