Scenic Erie Station Village

Ripen Bananas Faster & Keep Them Fresh Longer

Bunches of bananas at a grocery store. Image credit: Jonathan Cooper

July 2022


Who doesn’t love bananas? They’re a great source of fiber, potassium, vitamin B6, and vitamin C. And they’re super tasty. If you’re like us, you always have some in your apartment or townhome.

Have you ever gone to the grocery store because you need bananas but they’re still green? Or maybe you bought some, you’re not using them as quickly as you thought, and you want to keep them from getting brown and soft? Here’s the ultimate guide to controlling the forces of nature… at least when it comes to bananas.

A ripe banana is yellow and just starting to soften, but it still holds its shape. The more brown speckles that show up on your bananas, the riper they are… and the sweeter they’ll be. Of course, when they become fully brown and soft, about the only thing they’re good for is smoothies or banana bread.

Speed Up Ripening

Ethylene is an important plant hormone. In bananas and many other fruits, the amount of ethylene gas fruit produces surges when it ripens. That surge triggers the transformation of a hard, green, banana into a tender, yellow one.

So how can you manipulate bananas to ripen more quickly? Increase the concentration of ethylene by placing your bananas in a brown paper bag with the top folded down. If you have other ripe fruit like apples or avocados, place them in the bag with your bananas. The ethylene they produce will speed things up to the point where your bananas should ripen in 24 to 36 hours. In addition, keep a full bunch of bananas together, rather than separating them. And you should also keep them in a warm, rather than cool, place.

Slow Down Ripening

So, let’s say you have bananas that are getting too ripe, too soon. How do you slow that process? First, keep them away from other fruit. Any additional ethylene gas will only work against you. Next, wrap the banana stems in plastic wrap. Because the stems produce the most ethylene gas, keeping them wrapped slows ripening. Last, if your bananas become fully ripened, keep them in the refrigerator. In the same way that warm temperatures speed up ripening, cool temperatures slow it down.