The best way to store bananas

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Bananas begin to ripen the moment they are removed from the tree.

Bananas are picked 2 weeks before they arrive at your grocery store. They’re shipped in refrigerated containers that are designed to control the amount of ethylene the bananas are exposed to. Once they arrive close to town they’re kept in special ripening rooms at a warehouse and then shipped in refrigerated trucks to your local grocery store.

You and I are talking about trying to get just one more week out of a bunch of bananas. Just one more week out of an already two week old banana that has been shipped across the world!

4 ways to store bananas so they stay green longer

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1. Wrap the Banana Stem in Plastic

The theory is that bananas “breathe” through the stem and so covering the stem in plastic will prevent ripening. Possibly you might trick the banana into thinking it’s still attached to the tree… I think even bananas are smarter than that.

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2. Coat the Banana Stem in Wax

Like the plastic method, this theory assumes that sealing off the stems will prevent ripening. Coating fruit in wax has been a traditional storage method for thousands of years. Waxed pears are a great example of this.

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3. Use a Banana Rack

This method separates the bananas from each other, raises them off the ground, and puts space in between each one. As bananas ripen they emit ethylene gas, which causes them to ripen even faster. Ethylene is heavier than air. By raising the bananas off the counter, the ethylene will have less contact with the bananas and so they should ripen more slowly. I was generously gifted a BananaRack to use for this experiment.

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4. Keep the Bananas in the refrigerator

Since bananas are kept in cold storage during their long journey to the grocery store it makes sens that putting them into your home refrigerator could keep them green longer. However, your home refrigerator is much colder than then cold storage used to transport fruits and veggies. The cold will damage the banana peel, causing it to turn brown, but the banana inside is still fresh.

Testing all 4 Banana Storage Methods - An Experiment

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Years ago I did a banana storage experiment that tested out wax, plastic, and tin foil over the banana stems. In that experiment I had separated the bananas and used one banana for each method. This time around I wanted to test out each method using a bunch of bananas.

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I bought 5 bunches with 3 bananas each. One for each of the four methods above and one for the control group.

They were all purchased from the same grocery store on the same day. I tried to find green bananas at the same stage of ripening.

I put the plastic, rack, wax, and control group bananas on my counter top while I went out of town for Thanksgiving. The refrigerator group obviously went in the fridge. The bananas were left to their own devices for 5 days.

The Results - The bananas sat out for 5 days

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In short - there was not a significant difference between any of the storage methods and the control group.

The control group was slightly more ripe on the inside than the plastic, rack, and wax bananas.

The refrigerator banana was still ripe on the inside, but had a brown tint and was very soft. The fridge would be fine if you’re using bananas for cooking or smoothies. I wouldn’t eat it on it’s own after having been in the refrigerator for 5 days.

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None of the methods tested extended the shelf life of the bananas. Personally, I’ll continue using the BananaRack because I like having fruit off the counter. It’s easier to wipe down the counter top and I don’t have to worry about the bananas getting bruised. I

For fun, here are three banana bonuses!

I really enjoyed this episode from NPR about bananas. 

And musical stylings by Chiquita banana and Fred Pinsocket Loves Bananas. (Warning: my husband has had the Fred Pinsocket song stuck in his head for months now. Listen at your own risk).

I teach people how to cook and eat real food with confidence so that you can have less stress, better health, and WAY more fun in the kitchen and in life.

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Mollie WilliamsComment