How to Make Bananas Ripen Faster. Or slower!

How to speed up or slow down the banana ripening process. Because sometimes you want to stretch that bunch out to last the week and sometimes you want it to hurry up and ripen.

 

The ubiquitous banana is one of the most universally liked and consistent fruit around. You pick up a ripe banana and you know exactly how it’s going to taste all the time. Unlike a strawberry or a blueberry, which can sometimes be surprisingly sour, dry or even tasteless – a banana will never let you down. It will always taste like a banana. 

That’s exactly what makes it my favourite fruit. Not necessarily because of the taste, but because of the fact that no matter what, when I buy a banana I know what I’m getting.  That was not the case with the grapes I bought last night which taste a lot like very small water balloons.

Bananas are the most dependable of all the berries.  

Yes, berries.  Google it. A banana is a berry.  For something so mundane, bananas are actually filled with fun surprises. They’re like one of those Gypsy wedding dresses that look basically normal until the moment the bride flicks a switch and it starts flashing lights and whirling live doves around.


Banana Facts

  • Bananas are indeed considered a berry.
  • Bananas make you happy. Like turkey, bananas have tryptophans and Vitamin B6 which helps your production of that feel good chemical – serotonin.
  • Humans and bananas share 50% of their DNA.
  • Bananas peels are scientifically proven to get rid of itchiness from bug bites, poison ivy and other miserable problems. Just rub the inside of the banana peel on the affected area. The inside of the peel contains a high amount of polysaccharides which relieve itch.  Those polysaccharide molecules in the banana peel are ALSO what make it so slippery.

Told ya. Bananas are interesting. Gypsy level interesting!


The same night I bought the water balloon grapes, I also bought some oranges and greenish bananas. When I got home I thought I’d look up an old post of mine because in it I explained how to ripen bananas faster.  I forgot my own information.

It happens.

You know when someone mentions something or says a word you’ve never heard before and you feel like an idiot? And then you suddenly notice that word or thing everywhere? Well, that happened to me a few years ago with bananas.  Sort of.

Twice in as many days, two separate people, randomly, out of the blue, told me that bananas ripen at different speeds depending on whether you leave them in a bunch of separate them. 

This was obviously a sign from the fruit Gods. At the very least, the Chiquita banana lady. I needed to find the truth about this. Was it possible? Did bananas really ripen differently depending on whether or not you pulled them apart?

This wasn’t information I could just accept without some kind of proof.

This needed some detective work. So I put on my overcoat, my see-behind-you sunglasses which I got in a magic kit when I was 12 and went straight to the grocery store. I bought a bunch of completely green bananas all the while watching the guy behind me trying to slip a roast into his pants.

I separated two individual bananas from the bunch. So now I had 2 individual bananas and a bunch of bananas. Would one group ripen faster than the other?

Here are the results in technicolour video.

How to Ripen Bananas 

Bananas left in a full bunch ripened almost twice as fast as bananas that were separated.

I only did this once, so it could have been a fluke, but the results are right there. The bananas in a bunch definitely ripened more quickly.

How to Make Bananas Ripen Faster.

How to Make Bananas Ripen Faster.

Active Time: 1 day
Total Time: 1 day
Difficulty: Easy

How to make green bananas ripen faster at home.

Materials

  • 1 bunch of bananas

Instructions

  1. Keep your bananas in a bunch and store them in a paper bag to help trap the ethylene gas.
  2. Check them daily.

Notes

Conversely, if you want your bananas to ripen more slowly separate them and keep them away from each other.

The Results

Bananas that were kept in a bunch ripened at about twice the rate as bananas that were separated.

Either way, once they were ripened, they all tasted exactly like a banana (with a slight Gypsy aftertaste.)

How to Make Bananas Ripen Faster. Or slower!

89 Comments

  1. Helene says:

    Im going to the kitchen right now and pull off two. I have a bunch and as a single person, they always ripen too fast. I love this.

  2. Mary Fehlman says:

    A few comments mentioned bananas at the store with stems wrapped in plastic. This has nothing to do with ripening. Most bananas are treated with pesticides, but not organic ones. So the stems are wrapped in plastic to keep a specific banana pest from burrowing into the stems. Plastic wrapped stems – organic. Uncovered stems – non-organic.

  3. jon says:

    Your conclusion that separating them is correct. Further to this though, if you also elevate them so that there is good air circulation around each banana, this will help to further dissipate the ethylene gas and heat that facilitates ripening, and also lead to more even ripening of each banana. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kn4p6WnGOmg&t=2s

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  5. Marti says:

    Hey K… just to add to this. When I bought my ‘nanners at Costco this week, I noticed that the packer had shrink-wrapped the stem of the bunch in plastic film. I presume it was to stop each bunch from releasing ripening gases and thereby allow for longer storage before I picked them up.

    Perhaps they’re reading your blog, too. ;)

  6. Jorge says:

    Sorry, but I have to disagree with your conclusion. One test can not be conclusive as you can’t be sure the two bananas you separated from the bunch would not have ripened more slowly if still part of the bunch.

    The test would need to be repeated many more times with the same result for a significant percentage of tests before you could have any confidence in the conclusion.

    • Karen says:

      OH I’m sorry, you thought you were reading a scientific journal apparently. You’re not. It’s a blog. Also, this test has been proven time and time again, I was simply doing my own test of it to confirm the results. ~ karen

      • Kirsten Ilczyna says:

        🤣🤣🤣

      • Gaylej M says:

        Yay! Hubby and I prefer bananass at very different stages if ripeness–now I can keep a couple a little greener for me now. He just bought some, too so you know how exciting this blog is to me. (Yeah–been cooped up waaaaay too long. Just about a dozen ventures out into the world of Covid since it started–you are my life line!)

      • Jamie Shields says:

        😉😄😄

  7. brian says:

    I am a truck driver I am asked when I load bananas in the truck when was the last time I hauld applesm. I am NOT allowed to haul apples 1 week before I haul the bananas..Post said the gases from the apples or right on the bananas they are correct I have seen truckloads of bananas rejected at the loading dock because they did not arrived freshalso most or change have special rooms at their regional distribution centers just for storing bananas and nothing else

  8. George says:

    I am always wanting to know the “why” of things. I understand the seperating the bunch and keeping away from apples. But why does wrapping the stem keep them from ripening!? My google skills are failing me

  9. Jose says:

    Compliments on a very nice blog … and some very good observations about banana ripening.

    Some of you are very close in homing in on one important factor, heat. Very good comments on gassing which is as natural and organic as it comes, but once bananas are exposed to ethylene gas, they take over by themselves.

    Once they are triggered by the ethylene, they start producing heat. Whether the heat occurs in a commercial ripening facility or on your counter does not matter. More heat, more ripening.

    So, if you control the heat, you control the ripening.

    Commercially, bananas are harvested and immediately washed to remove “field heat” then packed and loaded aboard ships either on pallets or containerized like Chiquita does. In either case, they are refrigerated with a target temp of 58 degrees or so. Colder and they will chill, hotter and they may randomly start to produce some stray ethylene on their own which will lead to disaster. Bananas need to arrive in port green. Chiquita does begin the ripening on some containers by introducing gas during transit. Otherwise, the commercial banana ripener will initiate the gassing himself after stabilizing the temperatures.

    Much of today’s ripeners work with “load” quantities which 20 pallets of 48 boxes each totaling 960 boxes. The goal is to ripen all of the bananas to the same stage of color for acceptable delivery to the supermarkets.

    The ripener carefully monitors the pulp temperatures of the bananas with a probe while introducing the gas at about 61 degrees. Once the bananas start to ripen their heat MUST be controlled by venting/cooling the fruit. Kind of tricky since it is a game of anticipating the amount of ripening. Normally, five to six days and the bananas are ready for delivery. If the ripener needs to hurry production, he will allow the bananas to heat up more, sometimes 63 or 64 degrees. The result is ripening that even after the fruit is cooled will continue to ripen quickly in the store … and on your counter.

    If you consistently get bananas that ripen too fast at home even though you are careful with them, suspect that your supermarket distribution center or supplier is rushing his ripening.

    So, bananas bunched together will ripen faster because of the concentrated heat. Ask you produce guy what the first thing he’s supposed to do when he gets his banana delivery which is sometimes daily. He should tell you he “pops the tops off the boxes” and ventilates them (unless in a really colder area of the country which is a separate chill problem).

    Obviously much more to banana ripening than this probably too long comment about an excellent fruit, usually the number revenue item in the supermarkets produce section.

    Thanks for listening.

    • Tina says:

      Jose, that was fascinating information! Thank you for sharing. That answers a lot of questions I have often had about bananas.

  10. Carolyn says:

    I’m looking forward to following your blog.

  11. Linda S says:

    Well, this is a fine piece of news. Now what are we supposed to do with those cute little banana hanger thingies that decorate my countertop?? I’ve always hated it when I get down to a single banana because it won’t hang by it’s pretty little neck like its supposed to.

  12. rebecca says:

    Proposal for your next kitchen experiment (thanks for the tip about bananas, BTW…very helpful): Does storing onions near potatoes cause the potatoes to rot, or store less well? My mother always claimed that the gasses let off by the onions do other root-cellar produce harm. Where do you keep your onions?

  13. jim says:

    Thanks, I am guessing it is because, when separated, they can be a few degrees cooler, as more air can get to them, and that is slowing down the ripening. I can’t think of anything else that would….Jim

  14. Lisa says:

    Ha! I was doing it backwards the whole time. No wonder they were’t ripening fast enough. That and my house is about 60 degrees in the winter, which slows them down a bit. So thank you for straightening me out.

  15. Jim says:

    It could also be that larger bananas ripen faster…

  16. Jen says:

    Bought some bananas today and quickly separated them.

    I can’t tell if they’re gassy or not. They may just be really polite. :)

  17. Irma de Visser says:

    Last week I learned the best way (the only way, actually) to peal a banana. For 34 years I had no idea. I love these little lucky moments that can make your day!

  18. Debbie B says:

    Had no idea

  19. Theresa says:

    Oooooh, good to know. I’ve never separated my bananas and they get ripe way too quickly. Now I’m going to start and I’ll have nice yummy bananas all week long!

  20. Kim Steinmetz says:

    Thanks for doing this experiment for me–I have been separating my bananas for some time now, having read the tip online somewhere. Shortly after I read it, I heard someone saying the exact OPPOSITE thing on the radio. So, every week as I faithfully pull my bananas apart, I always wonder. Now your next experiment can be why people wonder and DON’T do their own research. :)
    Speaking of experiments–you need to read this book it is FANTASTIC: State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. You will absolutely love it.

  21. Brenda says:

    They last longer if the ones you separate are not touching each other. If you want to make them last even longer, separate them, wrap each one in newspaper and put them in the fridge.

  22. Tricia Rose says:

    There’s always something to think about, isn’t there. It all beats me.

  23. Allison says:

    you need to have the same number of separated bananas piled up.

    • Karen says:

      I have. I’ve done it every way possible. Separated bananas always ripen more slowly. Always, always. ~ karen

  24. nancy says:

    I like my bananas so ripe most people are afraid of them.

    Did you know if you freeze good n ripe bananas and blend them up they taste like vanilla ice cream? While doing this I learned my Vitamix blender will just quit instead going on and burning the motor up.

    • Karen says:

      I’ve learned that too! Don’t tell the fella. Technically the blender is his and he doesn’t like me to touch it. ~ karen

  25. Jasmine says:

    Well that was freakin amazing! I don’t eat a lot of bananas but other people in this house do and won’t touch a ripe one. This could actually save me money! Great music btw…

  26. Laura Bee says:

    This is interesting, but I really like my RIPE bananas & then they hit that point where they make me wanna bake. Great video, the only reason they make plastic cat carriers is because they chew through cardboard. We had a gym bag for our first cat. Just opened it up on the floor & waited five minutes. Zip & off to the vet.

    • Kim from Milwaukee says:

      Brilliant!!! I must try that, there’s nothing worse than trying to shove a cat into a carrier.

      • CCD says:

        Getting a cat inside a carrier is easier if you tilt the carrier up on end with the open door on top. Then drop the cat inside and close the door.

      • Billy Sharpstick says:

        They force hogs into the chute by putting a bucket over their head so they back away. Just steer them where you want them to go. Works on cats, too. A large cottage cheese container works.

        • Minnie says:

          Horrible!

          A good way, is to pick up your cat and put it backwards into your cat carrier, they can’t put their paws out and resist going in. Also, keeping your carrier in an area they can get to it and use it as a hidey spot, sleeping spot, so they’re used to it. I’ve been rescuing cats for 43 years.

          And bananas, separating them, def keeps them from ripening faster, if that’s what you want. And ripened bananas as someone mentioned blended in a blender do make an ice cream type treat. I use ripe ones for that banana bread or cake, even frosting.

  27. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Well now..ain’t that sumthin..do we know why this happens?? Why does the bunch ripen faster..why does the singles ripen slower..why does a cat shove it’s butt into any available box no matter how small it may be..

    • Kim says:

      My guess is that if they are in closer proximity to each other, they are exposed to more of the ethylene gas they are giving off. Kind of along the lines of another commenter stating you should store your bananas with other fruit, as it will ripen faster too. It would be interesting to do an experiment where you compare the rate of ripening of singles still touching each other and singles spaced further apart!

      • Nan Aitel-Thompson says:

        if they get too ripe, you can take them out of the skin, put in a freezer bag, smash them, and freeze them. They are great for banana bread or banana cake and they last forever.
        Great blog. I’m trying everything. Because I am quarantining I have to count on delivery and can’t choose my own bananas. Thanks.

  28. Susan says:

    Yes! I look forward to your cat proofing video!! You’re the best. :)

  29. Barbie says:

    I will now ALWAYS separate my bananas! They always ripen to fast for us!

  30. Karen says:

    You have again answered one of the world’s most intriguing mysteries. Amazing detective work. :)

  31. Debbie says:

    Great music … made the video epic.

  32. Feral Turtle says:

    I actually got an email a month ago about this. I tried my own experiment and came to the same conclusion! Great post Karen!

  33. Jamie says:

    How interesting that the tip of the single banana that was touching the bunch ripened quickly, while the rest of the banana didn’t…

  34. Tisha says:

    I have never heard this before, thanks for the tip! My son will not touch a banana if it has more than two brown spots on it, so I end up using the super ripe ones in my morning smoothie. We rarely throw any out, but it’s nice to know this will slow down the ripening process. Thanks Karen!

  35. Mary says:

    We buy our bananas at Aldi’s- a no-frill store here. They have them still in the sealed bags. The bananas last a full week if you close up the bag after taking one. Now I know why the grocery stores take them out of the bag, it’s so they look prettier, but they stay much longer in the plastic bag.

  36. Ruth says:

    Just watched the video… what’s the story behind the cat with the bananas?

    (Not sure why I think there’s a story, considering I’m still awaiting the back story for the stair photograph.)

    • Karen says:

      My setup for taking the time lapse pictures is in the basement. A white box, tripod with camera, light, etc. The camera automatically takes pictures every 7 minutes of the bananas. At some point my cat thought the warm box filled with bananas seemed like a great place to hang out. I went downstairs to find her smashed inside the light box with the bananas while the camera was taking pictures. ` karen!

  37. Ruth says:

    They will ripen even faster if you wrap them in paper and place them in a cupboard. Just don’t forget they’re in there. ;)

    I’m curious. The bananas you get so far up north…where are they grown?

  38. Jim Barry says:

    Recently we started keeping the bunch-o-bananas in the corner cupboard of the kitchen. Figured it was a nice dark, cool spot. seems to have slowed down the ripening process.

    But, learned something else. Don’t put bananas and the dish of butter/margarine in the same space unless you like the flavor of banana butter. :/

  39. Mary Werner says:

    Before I finished reading I was excited about why my single bananas always turned brown immediately and went bad so quick (last on the bunch) UNTIL I read your outcome. Now I have to do an experiment to find out if you leave it in a bunch, does the single one ripen much quicker on the last day without his friends? Could be they are social creatures and get depressed turning brown instead of blue.

  40. marilyn says:

    you wouldnt believe how many people put roasts down their pants..and in their coats and shirts etc etc etc..boggles the mind!

  41. Mary Kay says:

    THEY GAS OUR BANANAS????? WTH is up with THAT?? I have never heard of gassed or ungassed bananas!

    • Karen says:

      LOL. They do. But they only gas them with the natural gas that they produce anyway so it isn’t too big of a deal. :) ~ karen

  42. RosieW says:

    I love bananas, but really picky about the ‘perfect to me’ amount of ripeness. Friend taught me years ago to refrigerate them. The skins turn a nasty brown but they don’t continue ripening when chilled. Trust me on this, at least long enough to test it.

    Y’all are going to love me for this!

    Rosie

    • I live in the country in SE Ontario so have to drive up to an hour to grocery shop. I was conducting an art workshop in Florida and while setting up, I overheard two participants talking about refrigerating bananas to keep them from ripening. I have now been doing this for the last 15 years. I refrigerate a bunch in a plastic bag. I take one out everyday so that it ripens overnight and is good to go the next day with our porridge. They last up to two weeks are are never any riper than when I put them in the fridge. As Rosie says, even if they occasionally get brown on the outside, they are the same level of ripeness inside as when I put them in the fridge.

  43. Diana says:

    Karen…
    the only thing I know about bananas:
    never store them together with apples!
    because the ripening of the apples let the bananas wrack much faster.

    so I have got another experiment
    my mom always told me,never stick tomatoes and cucumber together! what do you think of this advice?

  44. JBB says:

    I’ve also heard that if you wrap the stem end of the bananas in aluminum foil you will slow the ripening process.

    More experiments for you to do because we’re too lazy! :)

    • Chau says:

      I’ve heard the same thing. Karen, would you please do this experiment?

    • Heather says:

      I’ve done this–you can wrap it in almost anything actually, but foil and plastic wrap seem easiest. I actually had to UNwrap them so they would ripen a bit because after a week and a half we still had SUPERGREEN bananas.

  45. katy oneill says:

    I was taught to keep bananas separated from other fruit as well, because the ethylene they produce makes other fruit ripen faster.

  46. Corinne says:

    I have been separating my bananas for years(learned this from my Mom). To make them even last longer, put separated bananas in a bag so they are covered and then store in a dark place. I put mine in my pantry cupboard. If they start out completely green, they can last for well over a week. I have also found that the organic bananas last longer.

    • Karen says:

      Corinne – It’s possible that the organic bananas are ungassed. That’s weird about putting them in a bag. I would have thought they’d ripen faster in a bag because it would concentrate all the ethylene they produce. Are you just trying to get me to do another experiment, LOL? ~ karen!

      • Corinne says:

        Could possibly be another experiment. I have just always put them in a bag(cause my Mom told me to). Truthfully, I have never tried it without the bag, but will certainly be giving it a try. I think keeping them in a dark place also helps. I’ll let you know what happens.

      • Ruth says:

        Just noticed this…. they do ripe faster, Karen.

  47. I’ve never heard of ungassed bananas. I’ll have to look for them. Thanks for the tip.

  48. I had heard the same thing about the speed of banana ripening so I always separate mine when I bring them home. However it seems no matter what I do, my bananas always ripen faster than I want them to and I have more bananas left than desire to eat them. When that happens I just freeze them for a future foray into banana bread.

    Thanks for your experiment. Much appreciated.

    • Karen says:

      Gitana – You can also buy something called “ungasses” bananas in some grocery stores. When bananas are picked they’re put in a room with ethylene gas to speed up the ripening process. Ungassed bananas haven’t had this process and take much longer to ripen. Plus they seem to taste more bananaey. But that could just be me. ~ karen!

    • Rob Dunn says:

      Try wrapping some aluminum foil around the stems of several of the bananas to delay the ripening process so that they don’t have to go the ‘banana bread’ route – altho I REALLY like banana bread!

  49. Pati Gulat says:

    I had been told that too but didn’t believe it til now. Once again you come thru in the clinch !

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