Today, I will show you how to tell when bananas are ripe. This will help you choose the best ripe (and unripe) bananas for your cooking and baking needs!
Many people underestimate the importance of this topic until they are confronted with its consequences. There is nothing worse than a bland, flavorless banana smoothie or muffin. So, read on to make sure you know the ins and outs of picking ripe, fresh bananas.
How To Tell When Bananas Are Ripe
In today’s article, we’ll jump right into it: how to tell if a banana is ripe.
Luckily, it’s pretty easy to visually tell when a banana is ripe. Furthermore, there are also a couple of physical tell-tale signs that give it away.
What does a ripe banana look like? We’ve all seen it before!
The most obvious sign of a ripe banana is the yellow peel. Ideally, a ripe and super fresh banana is uniform in color with a bright, saturated yellow color. The tips of the banana may be slightly green or brown.
However, sometimes there may be a couple of brown spots on the skin. But don’t worry, they don’t make the banana inedible. These brown spots indicate a couple of things.
The first is just age. As bananas age (left to ripen), they will start deteriorating. The brown spots are an indication of this natural process. The larger the spot or section, the riper that area is.
And lucky for us, it can also indicate an over-ripe banana or even one that is rotten.
Usually, the more tiny brown spots a banana has on its peel, the riper it is. And that also means it will be much sweeter than less ripe options. It’s an easy way to tell when a banana is ripe.
This isn’t an indication of a ripe banana. But it will indicate whether or not it’s fresh.
The second reason for brown spots is bruising. There are varying degrees to which the spots may turn brown, but they all can indicate damage to the peel and flesh on the inside.
As bananas ripen, their consistency becomes softer. That is why you need over-ripe bananas to mash for banana bread. Unripe bananas will simply be too hard and don’t contain much sugar and moisture.
And you don’t have to peel a banana to test this. You can gently squeeze it to feel if it gives.
A perfectly ripe banana is soft but can easily hold its shape. An underripe banana is very hard. And, of course, that makes an overripe banana extremely soft.
This may not be the best indicator for how to tell when bananas are ripe, but many people say that ripe bananas have a sweeter and more fruity smell.
I can kind of agree with this when I compare it to the smell of ripe and unripe plantains. Unripe ones usually smell like nothing, whereas ripe plantains have a noticeable aroma.
Now, of course, plantains and bananas aren’t the same fruit. But they are so closely related that it wouldn’t make sense that the “smell” point doesn’t apply.
What Does An Unripe Banana Look Like?
Unripe bananas are green or have some shading of green between the yellow peel. They also have a much firmer texture and can even be rock solid.
Furthermore, these bananas can be difficult to peel, and they have virtually no smell at all.
Can You Use Unripe Bananas?
Just like unripe plantains, you can use unripe bananas in pretty much the same ways.
For example, I use unripe plantains in these Chicken Pasteles En Hoja and Beef Pasteles En Hoja recipes. You can easily substitute them with unripe green bananas.
Keep in mind, you will probably have to use two or three unripe bananas for every unripe plantain the recipe needs. Plantains are a lot bigger than bananas.
How To Store A Banana So It Doesn’t Become Overripe? How To Tell When Bananas Are Ripe?
If you’ve stored bananas before, you would have noticed that some methods make them go brown (overripen) much quicker than others.
Unfortunately, while bananas aren’t very difficult to store, they are very susceptible to oxidation.
So, there are a couple of storing techniques you have to use (and ones to avoid) to extend the bananas’ shelf life and prevent them from over-ripening quickly.
Do’s For Storing Bananas
First, you should always keep bananas away from direct sunlight.
They should also ideally be stored below 54ºF (12ºC). The warmer they are, the more quickly they will ripen.
So, that also means that you can store bananas inside the fridge. But make sure they are perfectly ripe when placing them inside the fridge. Luckily, you now know how to tell when bananas are ripe now. The skin may become darker in the fridge. But the inside won’t become riper once it’s been stored.
And finally, if you want to store cut bananas, you can douse them in a little bit of lemon or lime juice to prevent them from turning brown and mushy. Keep them inside an airtight container.
Don’ts For Storing Bananas
Never wrap bananas in plastic when storing them. It creates an ideal, warm, and moist environment for them to become overripened.
Also, avoid storing bananas next to other fruits. Many of them (like apples or avocadoes) actually speed up the ripening process. Think about how they store it inside a grocery store and try to replicate the conditions.
And finally, as you may already know, you should never squish fruit when storing them. It causes bruising, scratching, and tears. All of this can allow bacteria to enter the peel and spoil the bananas.
How To Ripen A Banana Quickly And How To Tell When Bananas Are Ripe
Now that you know how to tell when bananas are ripe, let’s take a look at how to ripen them quickly.
To start, place all the bananas in a brown paper bag or wrap them in wax paper. Don’t wrap them tightly, and make sure there is a lot of space inside the bag.
Leave the bananas at room temperature for a day or so. They will ripen extremely quickly.
You can also simply store them next to apples and avocadoes at room temperature. As I’ve mentioned, they help the process.
Obviously, you now know how to tell when bananas are ripe so you can easily use them when they are to your liking.
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