Kitchen Hack: How to Quickly Ripen Bananas

Are your bananas a bit green, but you prefer them yellow?

No more waiting days for them to ripen; just follow a few simple steps and get them where you want them in under an hour.

Anyone who has tasted an under-ripe banana can attest that the starchy, slight sour taste is not pleasant. It can also be harder to digest, leading to stomach discomfort. As a banana ripens, the starch converts to sugar. The riper the banana, the creamier the texture and the sweeter it tastes. By using heat, you can take slightly under-ripe or regular bananas and sweeten them up.

Here’s how:

  • Step 1: Preheat your oven to 300°F. Spread your bananas (peels on!) on a cookie sheet. Tip: line your baking sheet with parchment paper or foil for easy cleanup, as some of the bananas may leak during cooking.
  • Step 2: Bake bananas about 30 to 40 minutes depending on the size of the banana, or until they are dark brown or black (if you are just trying to accelerate the ripening process, check frequently and remove them once they are covered in brown spots).
  • Step 3: Remove from oven and stick them in the refrigerator for a few minutes to stop the ripening process. Remove once they are cool enough to handle.
  • Step 4: Peel and enjoy!

So how does this work? The heat from the oven activates the sugars in the banana, stimulating the ripening process. While bananas will ripen on their own over time, heat hastens this process. Just remember, this doesn’t work for completely green bananas – they should be mostly yellow to get desired results.

Some ideas for using your newly ripened bananas:

  • Store them peeled in a plastic bag in the freezer, and use in smoothies in place of ice.
  • Black bananas are perfect for baking banana bread, muffins or cookies.
  • For healthier baking, replace half of the butter or oil the recipe calls for with ripened, mashed banana.
  • Stir banana chunks into pancake batter for natural sweetness and added fiber.
  • Blend frozen banana chunks in a food processor to make a creamy, healthier version of ice cream.

 

Alissa Rumsey
Alissa Rumsey, RD, CDN, CNSC, CSCS, is a registered dietitian and certified strength and conditioning specialist based in New York City. She runs Alissa Rumsey Nutrition and Wellness Consulting, specializing in diabetes, cardiovascular disease, weight management, and sports nutrition. She is active in local, state and national professional organizations, and is a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.