Healthy Kitchen Hacks: Banana Rescue

Sliced Banana
Photo: BANANA©GETTYIMAGES.COM/CLFORTIN

Whether you like bananas firm or ripe to the edge of mush, you’ve likely seen bananas go to the dark side. Here are tips and tricks to save them, plus ways to enjoy past-their-prime bananas beyond baking them into bread.

Speed up ripening. Place a few green bananas in a paper bag and roll to close. The bag traps ethylene gas given off by ripening bananas, which will help to ripen the fruit in a day. For a quicker method, place bananas (in peel) on a tray into an oven preheated to 350°F for about 20 minutes. The peels will turn black, but the flesh will be soft and sweet. Use as a naturally sweet topping for pancakes, yogurt parfaits or hot cereal.

Slow down ripening. Place bananas in the refrigerator. The cold air will cause the peel to darken, but the flesh will stay firm for several days longer than usual. Another method to try: Separate bananas from the bunch and cover the top of each stem in plastic wrap. This allegedly prevents ethylene gas from traveling down the banana.

Freeze. Remove the peel, break the banana in half or cut into slices, place in a freezer bag or container and freeze. Add frozen banana to smoothies for instant frostiness and sweetness, or thaw the fruit and add it to oatmeal, applesauce or nut butter. Make two-ingredient “ice cream” by adding 2 frozen bananas and 2 tablespoons milk to a food processor and pureeing until smooth.

Swap. Substitute mashed bananas for up to half the butter or oil in muffin, pancake, waffle and cake batters, but reduce the cooking temperature by 25°F to keep them from drying out. Swap mashed bananas for 1⁄4 to 1⁄3 of the granulated sugar in quick breads, muffins and cakes.

Grill. Place banana on its side and cut a slit into the peel from the top to the bottom without
cutting all the way through. Gently open the peel, separate the flesh and spoon in peanut butter. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and place on a grill. Close the lid and grill for 5 minutes. Remove with tongs and serve with a spoon.

Go savory. Dice a banana and add it to fruit salsa to make a garnish for fish. In a blender, puree 1 banana with 1 tablespoon curry powder, 1 tablespoon lime juice and 1 tablespoon water to make a sauce. Serve over rice and chicken.

Use that peel. Place a banana peel on top of skinless chicken breasts to retain moisture while grilling. Use the inside of the peel to polish leather shoes or soothe bug bites. Peels also are ideal for composting.

Deanna Segrave-Daly and Serena Ball on Facebook
Deanna Segrave-Daly and Serena Ball
Deanna Segrave-Daly, RDN, is a food-loving dietitian based in Philadelphia and co-owner of Teaspoon Communications, LLC. She blogs at TeaspoonofSpice.com. Follower her on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Based in St. Louis, Serena Ball, MS, RD, is a food writer and owner of Teaspoon Communications. She blogs at TeaspoonOfSpice.com and produces bi-weekly Facebook LIVEs. Serena co-created TheRecipeReDux.com. She is happiest in her aqua-blue kitchen baking bread. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.