How to Ripen Bananas

When you cannot wait for banana bars, but all your bananas are underripe, what’s a baker to do? Here’s how to ripen bananas for pancakes, muffins, and more.

Go B.A.N.A.N.A.S with cream cheese-frosted Banana Bars, the healthiest Banana Bread out there, or Banana Walnut Energy Bites that conquer the dreaded afternoon slump. Ripe bananas make a great addition to almost any breakfast recipe, from a smoothie for your little one, to this beloved family recipe for healthy pancakes. And don't worry--what you don’t use, you can freeze for later.

3 unpeeled yellow bananas on a foil-lined baking sheet.
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Depending on the season, or who knows—maybe the cycle of the moon—perfectly ripe bananas can be so hard to find out there. Why? Because unripe bananas are easier to ship. Ripe, yellow bananas bruise more when jostled (as anyone who has brought home a bunch of bananas in a plastic bag can attest), so banana farmers send them out to grocery stores while bright green and firm. However, once you get them home, those green bananas seem to take forever to ripen to eat, and even longer to soften up for smoothies and baking. When you have a specific baking project in mind, it’s especially frustrating to time the ripeness of the banana with the window of time you’ve set aside to bake. The good news is that there are a few easy methods to quickly ripen banana for eating, baking, and your morning smoothie. All you need is a paper bag, oven, or microwave. So hang up that banana phone and keep reading.

How do bananas ripen?

Ideally, a banana, apple, or other fruit left alone will ripen naturally. As it ripens, it releases ethylene, a natural plant hormone in the form of a gas. Some types of fruit and vegetables release more ethylene than others. Similarly, some fruits and vegetables are more sensitive to ethylene than others. Here are just a few examples of ethylene producing foods (when ripe):
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Blueberries
  • Avocados
  • Plums
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Potatoes
  • Pears
You can use that ethylene to your advantage when you have a bunch of green bananas that you’re hoping to eat sooner rather than later.

Best way to ripen bananas naturally:

  1. If you want to let the bananas ripen slowly, place them in a warm spot; maybe a sunny window, or near a heating vent.
  2. Keep the bunch of bananas together—their friends will help speed the process along.
  3. Depending on how green they are—and where on the banana ripeness spectrum you prefer them—they should take 24 hours to 5 days to ripen.
If that’s not fast enough, don't fret. You have speedier options!

Ripening bananas with a paper bag:

  1. Place the unripe bananas in a paper bag (a brown paper lunch bag, grocery bag, etc) along with a high-ethylene producing fruit, such as a ripe banana or apple.
  2. Then loosely fold the paper bag closed and let the ethylene gas from the fruit encourage the banana to ripen. This process is gradual, but definitely faster than leaving the banana out in the open. They should be ready to eat in a day or two. (By the way, this is a great way to ripen stubborn avocados, too!)
Need them riper, mushier, and even faster? Use the oven.

How to ripen bananas in the oven:

When you need super ripe bananas NOW, an oven is your BBF (banana’s best friend). No prep, nothing. You don’t even need to peel them.
  1. First, preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Place the unpeeled bananas on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake them for 15 to 20 minutes. 3 unpeeled yellow bananas on a foil-lined baking sheet.
  3. When ready, they’ll turn completely black. 3 unpeeled brown bananas that have been ripened in the oven on a foil-lined baking sheet.
  4. Let the baked bananas cool, then scoop out the flesh with a spoon and mash.

Can you use the microwave to ripen bananas?

Technically, yes, but according to experiments, microwaving bananas doesn’t improve the flavor of the unripe bananas. Furthermore, it doesn’t make them any sweeter. And that sweetness is exactly what you want them for! So, it's more like softening than ripening. If you’d like to try it, it tends to work better with a semi-ripe banana than a fully green one.
  1. Peel the bananas and place them in a microwave-safe container.
  2. Cook for one 30-second increment, (and maybe just one more if you're cooking multiple bananas) until you hear the bananas sizzling inside.

Storing ripe bananas:

If you’ve hit your limit with bananas for breakfast, or the bananas you bought are past their prime, just peel them and stow them in a zip-top freezer bag in the freezer for later. Frozen bananas keep in the freezer almost indefinitely, but are best within 6 to 8 months. Just label your bag and you’ll always have the main ingredient in banana bread handy. When you’re ready to make something, let the frozen bananas thaw before adding to the recipe. If you plan on making a smoothie or blender ice cream, add frozen banana chunks right into the blender—no need to thaw.
3 unpeeled yellow bananas on a foil-lined baking sheet.

How to Ripen Bananas

When you cannot wait for banana bars, but all your bananas are underripe, what’s a baker to do? Here’s how to ripen bananas for pancakes, muffins, and more.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 1 banana
Calories: 105kcal
Author: Meggan Hill

Ingredients

  • Unpeeled bananas

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil for easy cleanup.
  • Arrange unpeeled bananas on prepared baking sheet. Bake until banana skins are completely black all over, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Cool. Scoop banana pulp from peel and mash.

Nutrition

Calories: 105kcal
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  1. Julie

    So easy! Needed these for banana bread. Thanks for the tips!5 stars

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