How to Keep Bananas from Turning Brown

If you like green bananas, keep reading.


>> Update! Readers weighed in with a few banana hacks of their own, and we tried them out. Check out those results here.

For the past week, I’ve been channeling my inner Bill Nye (anyone?) and conducting a little experiment in my kitchen. The objective: to find a way to keep my bananas yellower (or, even better, greener) for longer.

The backstory: My house is one of those hot, sad places this time of year that doesn’t have air conditioning, so fruits and veggies left out on the counter turn ripe—and then, overripe—like, overnight. It would all be fine and well if I wanted to eat eight bananas in a sitting, but since my banana intake is exactly one per day—in my morning oatmeal, with walnuts, cinnamon and honey, if you were wondering—I needed to find a way to make them last longer.


Those of you in the thoroughly unpalatable "I like brown bananas!" boat can probably stop reading here. You would have a field day in my house! Left to their own devices, a bunch of bananas will turn completely brown in about two days. Ick.

A closeup of how to wrap them, in case you need a better visual

Since I like my bananas as green as possible—yellow with a couple brown freckles is about as far down the ripeness path as I'll dare go. Any browner and they get frozen for banana bread—I was desperate to find a way to keep them within my window of edibility for longer. And so I turned to Google, where I found lots of hair-brained-sounding ideas, such as storing them in the basement where it's cooler or peeling them once they're at the desired ripeness, wrapping them in plastic, and storing them in the fridge.

Then I found one suggestion that was accompanied by a long-winded scientific explanation as to how and why it works, and I was sold. Read the full explanation here, but here's the short of it: The main culprit in the banana-browning process is ethylene gas, which is released mainly through the stems and, when it hits other parts of the fruit (or any other fruits or veggies nearby), it causes them to ripen faster. The article suggested wrapping the stems in plastic wrap to prevent the gas from escaping.

"Interesting," I said, out loud to myself, as I stood in the kitchen alone. "I'm going to try this."

And so I grabbed some Saran Wrap and my banana bunch and began wrapping. I discovered an immediate problem, though: You can't get a tight seal on the stems of bananas that are still all together in the bunch; there are gaps through which the gas could escape. So I took a chance and separated the bananas from the bunch and wrapped the stems individually.

It's a labor of love, sure, but nothing's too annoying for my green bananas. I found that ripping off a three- or -four-inch-wide section of plastic wrap—so you have a long, skinny rectangle—and cutting it down, width-wise, with a pizza cutter was a good way to get smaller sections sized perfectly for a banana stem. Then you just wrap the plastic around once, tuck the end in, and finish wrapping as many times as you can go around. The plastic doesn't stick to itself like glue, but it's sticky enough to keep the gasses in.

And guess what? Eight days after I wrapped them, my last banana (the other seven were loooong gone) was just turning yellow with some brown freckles. Not bad! The others stayed green for four full days before slowly, but surely, turning yellow. How's that for some serious shelf-life?

>> What produce-storage hacks have you discovered? Tell us in the comments!

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  • Ticia Albano

    Slightly off topic, but instead of banana bread you could consider this recipe. I don’t like bananas or ice cream but my husband loves it! And it might help you cool down in your hot house. :)

    http://userealbutter.com/2010/08/12/single-ingredient-ice-cream-recipe/

    • Emily Leaman

      That sounds absolutely DELICIOUS! Thank you! I’ll definitely try it.

  • Connie

    Do you think scotch tape would work. It might be easier. HMMMMMMM. I wonder?

    • Emily Leaman

      Interesting! Why don’t you try it and let us know? I don’t see why it wouldn’t.

  • Chris

    I’m going to try dipping the banana stems in melted wax to seal them up.

  • Fix Nichols

    Also
    did you know that bananas are most beneficial if you eat them when they
    have plenty of brown spots on them, when they are the sweetest, and
    softest, its true. There are a lot of misinformed people here apparently who refuse to
    eat them when they should be eaten unless they are rock hard and green as fk!?!?, I dont know how the hell anyone can eat them like that, and you are missing out big
    time on a very beneficial compound produced by the very bacteria that
    creates those brown spots. If you think eating green bananas is a good idea, you are idiots and misinformed. And you have no taste either.

    • Joe

      Fix Nichols, why are you swearing like this. What did the banana or the people did to you? Keep your gripe to yourself. Why are you so angry?

      • Pin Ga Grande

        I know somebody needs anger management.

    • Dreamyowl

      It’s not about misinformation or bad ideas; it’s the simple fact that different people prefer different flavors. I for one, dislike the sickeningly sweet taste of a banana that has more than a few brown freckles, but love the firm and slightly more bitter flavor of a greenish yellow one. And I also happen to think *YOU* are the idiot, Fix Nichols.

  • Crystal Young

    The best, most nutritious bananas are even in color and texture. Stay
    away from bananas with moldy, black stems or soft spots. If your bananas
    are dull or grayish in color or feel mushy to the touch, they have
    probably been stored and shipped at an improper temperature and do not
    contain the same nutritional benefits as a firm, yellow banana. Avoid
    eating bananas with green patches, as they have not fully ripened yet. Still trying to find where eating them with brown spots is most beneficial.

  • wwrrwrwr33r

    you are write

  • Emelda

    Thank you for the suggestion, I hate when my bananas go bad in 2 days in my dorm, I do love them spotted but they mature too fast in my room for some odd reason

  • David

    Great now my banana hanger is useless lol

    • kareninabq

      oh my gosh, i thought the same thing, LOL.

  • Jenn

    Harebrained. Like a bunny! :)

    But thanks for the tip, too!

  • Lizard14

    Interesting…..I buy bananas from BJs and they always have the stems wrapped with plastic. Never understood why until now!