Fresh bananas seem to turn brown in the blink of an eye, and far too often go to waste. Once a banana has lost its vibrant yellow color, there’s little that can be done to reverse the ripening process, leaving us no choice but to toss them in the trash. Thankfully, there are ways to slow and prevent browning, adding valuable days to a banana’s shelf life. Here are some tips for how to keep bananas from going brown.
Wrap the Stems in Plastic
You may have noticed that banana stems are sometimes covered in plastic wrap at the grocery store. The reason is that plastic wrap actually slows the ripening process, allowing stores to keep bananas looking fresh for longer. As bananas ripen, their stems release ethylene gas, which in turn causes the rest of the fruit to brown. By wrapping the stems in plastic, you can contain the ethylene gas and prevent it from affecting the rest of the peel. If you want some bananas to ripen faster than others, separate the fruits and wrap each stem individually so that you can keep some fresh for later.
Put Them in the Fridge
Refrigerators keep food fresh, including bananas. That being said, you need to be careful not to put bananas in the refrigerator too early. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, bananas are susceptible to chilling injury, meaning that if you store a banana in the fridge while it’s still green it may end up tasting unpleasant and bitter. However, if you time it right, bananas will last a little longer inside the fridge than if you just left them out on the counter.
Store Them in a Cool, Dark Place
If you don’t have fridge space or want to avoid a potential chilling injury, you can store your bananas in any cool, dark place. Heat and light cause bananas to ripen faster, as more ethylene gas is produced in those conditions. Somewhere cool and dark will slow the ripening process, though be sure to let the bananas ripen a bit before stowing them away. If they’re still green, putting them in darkness may inhibit them from ripening properly.
Keep Them Away From Other Fruit
Bananas aren’t the only fruit to release ethylene gas; other fruits like apples and pears do as well. While you may be tempted to store all your fruit in the same bowl, keeping bananas in a separate location will ensure they remain yellow longer. Storing bananas by themselves also means that you can maintain a better airflow, which allows ethylene gas to escape instead of getting trapped near the banana. You can also separate bunches and store each banana individually, which will accomplish the same result as keeping bananas away from other fruits.
Sprinkle Sliced Bananas With Lemon Juice
While this trick has little effect on unpeeled bananas, adding lemon juice to sliced bananas is a great way to preserve the fruit before it turns to mush. Whether you’re having a picnic or packing your child’s lunch, squeezing a little lemon on top of sliced bananas will maintain its freshness longer. And luckily, when it’s time to eat the banana the citric flavor will be barely noticeable.
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