Here's how to ripen bananas faster, whether you have a few days, a few hours, or a few minutes.
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Bananas are a vibrant and versatile fruit that can be the simplest of snacks or a star in a variety of recipes.

But no matter how you slice it, bananas taste the best when ripe. The rind should be bright yellow, firm to touch, and peel away smooth to reveal a sweet-smelling flesh on the inside.

While eating a banana is easy, knowing when it's ripe enough to enjoy can be more complex.

You might have noticed that most bananas you find at the supermarket are still a bit green. This is because bananas, like many fruits and vegetables, continue to ripen after being picked. So to give them a longer shelf, bananas are harvested young and delivered to stores while still slightly underripe.

So what do you do when you're craving banana muffins, but all your bananas are still too hard or edged with green? Here are three ways to ripen your bananas faster than nature intended.

How to Ripen Bananas 3 Ways

Have a Day or More? Try The Paper Bag Technique

As bananas naturally ripen, the peels give off ethylene gas. The higher the ethylene concentration in the air surrounding the banana, the faster it will mature. Even commercial banana producers will use ethylene gas to control ripening to send bananas to retailers at specific stages.

You can take advantage of ethylene's ripening properties at home by putting your banana into a closed paper bag; the paper will trap ethylene while letting in enough oxygen to help move the process along. For even faster ripening, add an apple, pear, apricot, or avocado — they also release ethylene.

When trying this technique, it's important not to use a plastic bag because it won't allow enough oxygen in and can actually inhibit ripening. That's why bananas at the grocery store are often bagged in plastic---to keep them from ripening too soon.

Depending on how under-ripe your bananas were to start with, paper-bag ripening will take 1-3 days; putting the bag on top of your fridge or another warm location can speed it up even more. Check them daily, and when the bananas are firm and bright yellow with no trace of green, they're good for eating raw. Once brown spots start to appear, you can use them for baking.

Have a Few Hours? Bake Them in the Oven

What if you want to make banana bread today, not in two or three days? Try speed-ripening bananas in the oven.

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C) and line a baking sheet with silicone or parchment. (The bananas may leak a little during baking.)
  2. Place unpeeled bananas on the baking sheet leaving some space between them, and bake for about half an hour. Check every 15 minutes to see if they're soft enough. The less ripe your bananas to start, the longer they will take.
  3. The peels will turn black when ready, and the fruit will be soft — too mushy for eating raw, but great for baking.

Have Just a Few Minutes? Pop Them in the Microwave

You can zap firm yellow bananas to soft ripeness in just a few minutes. Here's how:

  1. Poke unpeeled bananas all over with a fork or knife.
  2. Then put them on a paper towel or plate and microwave on high for 30 seconds at a time, repeating until they're as soft as you want.

These bananas won't be quite as sweet as the oven-ripened versions, but they'll be mashable for your pancakes and quick breads.

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