How to Accelerate and Slow Banana Ripening
I love bananas.
They are a nearly perfect fruit. They taste great. They’re fairly inexpensive. They have their own protective skin and they contain many nutrients such as: vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, C, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Zinc.
But, if I had to register a complaint about bananas, it would be their shelf life. Keeping them perfectly ripe is a fine art — one worth mastering.
The first trick is something my wife, Kristen, taught me: don’t buy all your bananas from the same bunch! Pick a couple green ones and a couple that are ripe/near ripe. Then you have some you can eat right away and others that will be ripe when you’re ready for them.
The interesting part is that those two bunches are likely the same age. You assume the less ripe ones are newer, but the food distributors control ripeness. They have large, air tight banana ripening vaults that give them very precise control over banana ripening. They’re usually divided into multiple sections, so bananas can be kept at different stages of ripeness. If they’re selling a lot of bananas, they can accelerate the ripening so they will be ripe when they arrive at the store. If sales are slow, they can slow ripening to avoid waste.
How do they do that?
Ethylene gas is used to induce ripening. In fact, bananas ripen themselves by producing ethylene and that’s why adding more ethylene to the air will speed banana ripening further. It’s really that simple.
To accelerate ripening at home, you just need ethylene gas. Luckily, tomatoes, apples, pears and bananas all produce it at an increasing rate as they ripen. If you put an apple or tomato in a bag with bananas, that will speed the ripening. Because bananas produce it, you can place the bananas in a bag to trap the gas and ripen them faster.
To slow ripening, you need to remove ethylene. You can’t remove ethylene completely, but you can slow its reaction by putting ripe bananas in the fridge. The skin of the banana will turn brown, which is normal, and the fruit inside is still good. You can keep bananas in the fridge for a couple weeks and they may not look good, but they still taste great. Do not put unripe bananas in the fridge, it will impede the early stages of ripening and spoil the fruit.
Some retailers also have “un-gassed” bananas; they aren’t as vivid a yellow color as the gassed bananas and are usually a mix between green and a muted yellow color, but the flavor of un-gassed bananas is generally better.
If you haven’t read the post on peeling a banana without the strings, click here to check it out.
Go bananas and follow me on twitter.
Written By: Chad Upton
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Entry filed under: Around The House, Be Efficient, Be Frugal, Be Green, Demystified, Food and Drink, ProTips. Tags: apple, banana, calcium, ethylene, Food and Drink, foodie, iron, magnesium, pear, potassium, ripe, spoil, tomato, zinc.