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Is there any way to keep bananas fresh for longer? We tried to put them in the fridge but they turn black very fast.

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related : cooking.stackexchange.com/a/5005/67 –  Joe Nov 10 '13 at 16:07

6 Answers 6

Store them in a well ventilated place. Cool (15 degrees Celsius) and dark will probably do them good too. And buy green bananas.

Your bananas are alive. Seriously, they continue to live after they have been picked. Breathing, cell metabolism, hormone production, etc. goes on. You cannot stop this process, you can slow it a bit.

In many plants, fridge temperatures trigger their own growth slowing processes, because they are evolved to stop growing in winter months. But in tropical fruit, this doesn't work, because there are no cold months where they grow. Instead, it exposes their sensitive cells to an environment they are not meant for, and they change a lot. Bananas go black, tomatoes change their taste radically, and so on.

Still, keeping them coolish and dark may do them good, because it still gives them less energy to spend on ripening.

One of the mechanisms which controls ripening in fruit, including bananas, is ethylene gas. It is a positive feedback mechanism. Ripe fruit produces ethylene, and unripe fruit ripens faster when exposed to ethylene. People tend to stick green bananas in bags to make them ripe faster. If you can keep them well ventilated, the ripening will slow down.

Still, don't expect any wonders. Bananas will ripe after being plucked, no matter if on the tree or not. And they will overripen in few days, even when held far from ethylene. Starting with green bananas gives you more headroom, but you still have a few days only.

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Ethylene gas is heavier than air, so having no sides and an elevated position is best. Also no direct sunlight. –  GdD Nov 4 '13 at 19:48
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Covering the stem part of the cluster with shrink plastic also help in keeping the peel healthy (evaporation leak from the stem end). Your useful note on tropical climate is concurred by Leonard Cohen in his Banana Song. –  MandoMando Nov 5 '13 at 19:37

The skins turn black in the fridge, but the fruit itself is fine. Cooks Illustrated tested if refrigerating bananas keeps them good longer (sorry, paywalled), and they found it does—five days longer.

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Wow...interesting. –  Jolenealaska Nov 8 '13 at 19:44

Jolenaska makes a good point - bananas should not be kept with other fruit, which is why fruit cages often have a long extension with a hook above - this keeps the bananas suspended away from the other fruits. Even better is a banana hook with no fruit cage beneath. The amount of ethylene is critical, so keeping them away from other fruits which are also producing ethylene helps to slow down the ripening process.

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By that logic, one should also keep the bananas away from each other.... –  SAJ14SAJ Nov 6 '13 at 14:00
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@SAJ14SAJ Dear oh dear, for heaven's sake - it's the ethylene from other fruits in the bowl one's trying to avoid, not to mention the two way street of its affecting other fruits too. Keeping each banana in splendid isolation might well delay ripening, but really, life's too short, surely. –  bamboo Nov 6 '13 at 14:02
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Are bananas themselves not one of the largest ethylene emitters? –  SAJ14SAJ Nov 6 '13 at 14:04
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Yup. And your point is? –  bamboo Nov 6 '13 at 14:04
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Since they are the worst offenders, it seems isolation would be indicated, not just from the other fruits. –  SAJ14SAJ Nov 6 '13 at 14:07

To keep them pleasant for just eating by themselves keep them at room temperature. Refrigerating or freezing them quickly turns them black. They'll develop bruising as they ripen if they're resting against anything (including each other), so keeping them suspended by their stems helps keep them a nice even yellow banana hooks. Once they ripen (darken and soften) beyond the point that they're pleasant for "out of hand" eating they're still a very useful ingredient. Overripe bananas have much more flavor and aroma than yellow ones. For baked goods ripened all the way to black is perfect. Let them ripen to nearly mushy at room temperature, then freeze. Once you have several bananas stored that way you're halfway to a very nice banana bread. I peel them and freeze in a Ziploc bag, but many people swear by leaving them unpeeled for freezing, and that certainly works too.

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The OP is storing them at room temperature, quite aware that refrigerating them doesn't work, and asking how to keep them fresh longer. I'm not sure I see how this addresses that? –  Jefromi Nov 4 '13 at 17:08
    
Bananas are perceived as "fresh" when they're yellow without brown spots. The banana hooks directly address that. The freezing tip extends useful life of the bananas, very intertwined with the word "fresh". –  Jolenealaska Nov 4 '13 at 18:08
    
Ah, I read the part about hooks as simply preventing bruising, not actually extending the shelf life. I will not delete this then, but it could be vastly improved. The first sentence tells the OP to do what they're already doing. The second repeats back what they already said in the question. And although it's not explicitly stated, it's almost certain that the OP wants to just eat the bananas, not bake with them, so the advice about freezing is certainly correct but not necessarily helpful. –  Jefromi Nov 4 '13 at 18:21
    
With respect to hooks, recommended because of the claim that fresh = yellow... overripe bananas are obviously overripe (and may have little brown spots), whether or not they have bruises. Preventing bruises is still good though, of course. –  Jefromi Nov 4 '13 at 18:49

Ethylene gas absorbers should prolong banana life, but I've never tried them, and do not know if their absorbing capacity is high enough to merit the cost. Looks like ethylene absorbers are used commercially so there's at least some chance that the consumer level products will work.

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They're used commercially because they pack things in crates & shipping containers ... they don't have the freedom to just let there be lots of air exchange. –  Joe Aug 3 at 2:55

You can't keep bananas very long. So just buy what you can eat in about 3 days, period. This is 80 years of dealing with bananas.

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There's a very small 'optimimum' period, in my opinion, but you should be able to stretch them out to at least a 5 day window. And if you buy bunches that are at different stages (I generally try to get the most green + the most yellow bunch), you can have bananas over an even longer period. –  Joe Aug 2 at 16:52

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