Keep Bananas Fresh Longer (slices, too!)

Picture of Keep Bananas Fresh Longer (slices, too!)
For many people, purchasing a bunch of bananas is the ultimate act of hope in the face of experience.

I'm no different. My thinking generally goes, "If I buy these now, I'm set on breakfast for a week." Then Thursday comes around, my 'nanners have turned brown, and suddenly Friday's looking like a toaster waffle sort of day. Sometimes I consider baking banana bread and pretending I meant to let them get overripe, but mostly I throw them away and feel bad.

There is another way. A better way. A way that requires nothing more than what is already likely to be in your kitchen.


Optional science!

We're looking specifically at enzymatic browning and the effect of ethylene production here. If you want to dig much deeper, there's a ton of academic research on bananas available online.

"Relationship between browning and the activities of polyphenol oxidase and phenylalanine ammonia lyase in banana peel during low temperature storage" anyone?
(Postharvest Biology and Technology - PDF link)

When fruits or vegetables are peeled or cut, enzymes contained in the plant cells are released. In the presence of oxygen from the air, the enzyme phenolase catalyses one step in the biochemical conversion of plant phenolic compounds to form brown pigments known as melanins. This reaction, called enzymatic browning, occurs readily at warm temperatures when the pH is between 5.0 and 7.0.
(Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology - PDF link.)

Ethylene promotes maturation and abscission of fruits. This has been known since early last century. Since 1934, it is known that plants themselves can produce ethylene. Many climacteric fruits such as apple, banana and tomato show a strong increase in ethylene levels at the late green or breaker stage. As a consequence of high ethylene chlorophyll is degraded and other pigments are being produced. This results in the typical color of the mature fruit peel. Activity of many maturation-related enzymes increases. Starch, organic acids and in some cases, such as avocado lipids, are mobilized and converted to sugars. Pectins, the main component of the middle lamella are degraded. The fruit softens. These metabolic activities are accompanied by a high respiration rate and consequently by high oxygen consumption. Ethylene levels are especially high in the separating tissues resulting in abscission of the fruit.
(Margret Sauter, University of Hamburg.)
ahbugmenot2 years ago
So I tried it with a lot of bananas, and it simply did NOT work. See my results here: http://imgur.com/gallery/j8lRC

I'd like to have experience returns of people for who that worked.
@OP: did you try it before posting it?

Looking at your pictures you left some of the "stem holder" attached to the stem.
I found that you must have only stem, no "stem holder" in order for them to last longer...

wilgubeast (author)  ahbugmenot2 years ago
From your results, it looks like separating the bananas followed by wrapping has no discernible visual effect. You busted my myth!

I tested separation but NOT wrapping. That was a bit of leap to synthesize the research around off-gassing and anecdotal reports that wrapping the stems made a difference. Clearly, it makes no aesthetic difference. (You mind if I incorporate your photos to make this ible more accurate?)

rpb2 years ago
This article seems to assume that all of the ethylene either comes out of the stalk to be absorbed by the banana, or enters in via the stalk. Isn't the ethylene generated by the banana itself, all over? How does wrapping up just the stalk affect anything?

I tried it to see if it would make any difference, and it was a resounding failure. I kept two bananas on my desk, about 9-12 inches apart (I briefly moved them closer for each photograph), one with stalk wrapped tightly with clingfilm (see fifth close-up photo) and one without. By the fourth day I don't think there is any significant difference between the two (or, in fact, on days 1, 2 or 3)!

I'm going to eat them now!
bucklipe rpb4 months ago

I too was looking forward to writing up a method for banana immortality.
I had practiced the "wrap the stem holder" with plastic wrap, which worked.
I separated the bananas from the "stem holder" and wrapped the end of the stem.
I numbered the bananas with a marker and took a picture.
In prepping to write up an Instructable I left three unwrapped, expecting early browning on those three.
More pictures taken to illustrate the step.
Imagine my surprise when I found that the three didn't age sooner!
The conclusion is that cutting them free of the "stem holder" is all that it took to make them last longer.
In my opinion they taste sweeter as well.
I was surprised and thought I may have done something wrong so I bought another hand of bananas and left half of one hand attached to the "stem holder" and cut the others from the "stem holder."
I wrapped the "stem holder" and did nothing to the individual stems (other than cut them off the "stem holder")
Being attached with wrap made them last longer but not as long as the singles.
Go figure...

wilgubeast (author)  rpb1 year ago
Sorry for performing necromancy on this thread, but this bears stating: Ever since you tested and confirmed that wrapping the stem has no effect, I've wondered how I ever came to that conclusion. Well, I finally figured it out! I made an incorrect leap of imagination about ethylene production and abscission, the natural splitting of leaf or fruit from stem.

I re-read the Sauter paper and realized that I got a little too inferency. I thought that since ethylene caused abscission, it would make sense to cover the point prone to abscission. I didn't test when I saw confirmations from Lifehacker and eHow. (I know! Those were my sources after all the research I'd done?! I'm embarrassed for me, too.)

Thanks for eating bananas for science!
babybayrs rpb2 years ago
These two bananas look like twins!
rpb babybayrs2 years ago
I think most bananas *are* "twins", in a sense, aren't they? Since the plants are all propagated by cloning another plant, and the fruit are unfertilised:


Maybe 'twins' isn't quite the right word but they all come from a relatively small number of "mothers" that have been cloned millions of times. This is probably why most bananas look very similar, unlike, say, apples.

babybayrs rpb2 years ago
Although they were treated differently, they looked the same, like twins to me. Good selection of experiment samples.
rpb rpb2 years ago
Note that I should point out the photos above are in order on Day 1 (purchase day), Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4. I kept them separated by 9-12, apart from during their photoshoots, in case the ethylene from one banana affected the other.
antioch rpb2 years ago
Hrm, great experimenting and documentation. And of course interesting result...
psst1 year ago

“try opening your bananas from the opposite end like a monkey”

— how do you open a monkey?

nofap psst1 month ago
with an axe
wilgubeast (author)  psst1 year ago
nsecrest7 months ago

Saran Wrap changed formulation in 2004 to polyethlene, far more permeable to oxygen, and probably ethylene.

MicioGatta1 year ago

Wow, I'll try this! Thank you!

how do u keep Bananas fresh

It's basically impossible.

BobS21 year ago

I'm surprised that nobody has suggested using green bags, such as Debbie Meyer Green Bags or Evert-Fresh Green Bags. These bags contain zeolite, which absorbs ethylene gas. They really do work well on all fruits and veggies that produce ethylene gas as a natural ripening process.

Takelababy1 year ago

I separated 5 bananas, wrapped the stems in plastic wrap and placed them on a folded towel in the fridge. Altho the skins got dark, the fruit was perfect for eating and they'd been in there for 3 days. When I'd just set them on the counter, if the skins were dark the fruit was banana bread soft.

There's no such thing as an over-ripened banana. Bananas that are turning brown are perfect for using in recipes such as banana bread, banana cake, ice cream and so on. With that said, yes...separating bananas does keep them yellow longer. I haven't tried putting saran wrap on the stem...I'll have to do that.

sbrown95781 year ago

I always had this problem and then one day I read that if you just cut off the stalk as low to the banana as possible without exposing the banana that the bananas would last much longer. This is what I did. Now I have bananas that last through the week and then some.

wilgubeast (author)  sbrown95781 year ago
If you're inclined to buy too many bananas (no such thing!) and want to take a shot at winning the Scientific Method Contest that's running right now, documenting what actually happens over time with each freshness preservation method would probably vault you pretty high into the standings.
sjpapmom1 year ago
To keep banana slices fresh
Dip in agave and freeze
Its magnificent :)
ecoben1 year ago
I must try this out to verify. thanks!
This is great! I have been struggling with my bananas for a long time. Now I know know what to do with them!! I have to have calcium and I eat them day and night!
Ok, this makes sense, I just bought a bunch and I'm going to try separating them. Like lucylouwho, I've been struggling too with my bananas, so funny.
lucylouwho2 years ago
This is great! I have been struggling with my bananas for a long time. Now I know know what to do with them!! I have to have calcium and I eat them day and night!
ahbugmenot2 years ago
Thank you for your answer. I didn't think to compare separated bananas with bananas still attached. I'll try it the next time and see what are the results.

No, I don't mind at all, you can use my pictures if you want.

(Sorry, I cannot reply directly to your comment, the Captcha doesn't load when I try to reply on a thread...)
wilgubeast (author)  ahbugmenot2 years ago
You're awesome.

(And try clearing your cache or turning off adblock or using Firefox to make the Captcha load correctly.)
vishalapr2 years ago
Yummmm...., I'm just eating the bananas I kept fresh with these techniques, Thanks for the instructions!
Yardster2 years ago
I tried this in a fashion. I happened to have melted wax in the kitchen for another project and dipped the stem ends. I didn't see any appreciable difference in aging, but I'll have to try it again sometime with more controls.
wilgubeast (author)  Yardster2 years ago
I'm very interested in seeing whether this method is replicable for more people. Let us know how your experiments go. So far the only clear winner for banana freshness preservation is separating them from the bunch.
babybayrs2 years ago
Didn't read all 90 comments. Ignore this if it's already mentioned. Carbon dioxide is an inhibitor of ethylene production. To ensure longevity of bananas, put them in an airtight container connected to pressured carbon dioxide tank with flow control valve at the bottom of the container and a hole on top of the container to let go of ethylene. The only question is: can we afford it?
I wondered if banana stems dipped in hot candle wax would work. No air gaps.
Superb instructable wilgubeast! Thanks for doing the science on preserving bananas for a longer time. I had no idea what factors were involved. 10/10+
Who would have thought this would make a difference! I love bananas, brilliant for a snack on the go and they come in their own protective case. I am interested how much longer the bananas last?

I will definitely be trying this.
kbeard32 years ago
Great idea- and thanks for the science! I tried it and it really does work.
Romi872 years ago
Thank you
Nyxius2 years ago
ethylene gas is also heaver than air so keeping them off surfaces helps.
wilgubeast (author)  Nyxius2 years ago
That is super useful! Be sure to keep your bananas lifted, people.
No, not those bananas... The real ones...lol
Thank you. Instead of lemon juice, orange juice does the job being not as acid.
batkinson12 years ago
lt.greg... "I'm Chiquita banana and I've come to say - Bananas have to ripen in a certain way- When they are fleck'd with brown and have a golden hue - Bananas taste the best and are best for you - You can put them in a salad - You can put them in a pie-aye - Any way you want to eat them - It's impossible to beat them - But, bananas like the climate of the very, very tropical equator - So you should never put bananas in the refrigerator."
Well "Chiki" - I guess I must have a magic refrigerator then - because when I put green bananas in there - they last three times as long as the ones from the same batch that I leave out on the counter. Yes - if you leave them in TOO LONG and don
tr check them every few days they turn brown. But they DO definitely last longer for me, in my fridge.
Listened to a review about a book written about the history of the modern banana not to long ago. Turns out that the old Chiquita banana jingle was intended to mislead you so that the fruit would go bad faster and you would have to buy more often. Good old capitalism and marketing at work.
wilgubeast (author)  marshall77072 years ago
Got a link for us? Bananas are fascinating. As is manipulation through marketing. And jingles! All together? Better and more incendiary than Bananas Foster.

I think I heard the same interview, which was a rebroadcast of this one. The take away: bananas are shipped in refrigerated trucks and stored in grocery store coolers until put out on display.
Except when they are fully ripe; i.e. are fully yellow and covered in brown spots, then they are fine to put in the fridge.
thanks! I m going to try this, I really don't like the bananas too ripe.
mrsthursday2 years ago
Personally, I love bananas a little underripe so this is a great one for me. When the fruit does get a bit overripe peel them and put them in a freezer bag in the freezer & they'll be ready for making Banana Bread when you get the baking bug. I learned that at cooking school.
sridhara2 years ago
A more simpler or much easier way to keep bananas from fast ripening/deteriorating is to keep them ina a black colored plastic or paper bag. This works fine and I regularly use this method.
predo2 years ago
Lol my bananas started popping- exploding open the next day I did this. Gotta try this again and see. If it happens again we have some special bannanas xD
wlgoode2 years ago
IMHO those seeming "overipe" nanners on the right are perfect for eating!! They won't be brown inside and now they actually taste like bananas. When they are eaten like on the left they have almost no flavor.
MikB wlgoode2 years ago
Absolutely right. When they've got green on the outside they're nowhere near ready to eat, and taste more like cucumbers. A few brown spots is fine. Big brown spots is fine.

Only when it gets to the point where it's physically squishy, and you have to eat it with a spoon, does it get "inconvenient". And they are STILL not "bad". Just rather sweet.

People are too precious about their bananas, one spot and it's "off" :)
It's even better when you wait a week and a half :D
wilgubeast (author)  wlgoode2 years ago
You're absolutely right. No overripe bananas are pictured in this Instructable.
dkrmwiz2 years ago
well, this is just awesome! i can't wait to try it! thanks for the info! :)
chinda.raul2 years ago
i wonder if dipping the ends in butter or oil will do the trick?
I was thinking the same thing about mineral oil, which I always have handy to re-oil wooden cutting boards and spoons and such. Experimentation time. :-)
I was wondering a simmilar thing; wouldn't it work if you dipped them in parafin wax... Microwave a small bit of parafin and dip each steam indulvidually... Violia???
How much longer do they last?
Taimur2 years ago
For those that don't know the more brown marks the banana has the better is for your health it come out some research short time ago related to that, it releases a compound TNF that helps the human body increasing is natural defenses.
wilgubeast (author)  Taimur2 years ago
Protein content increases as well.
danzo3212 years ago
wow, great to learn this!
djimdy2 years ago
You know what could be less trouble than using plastic wrap? getting those individual, latex finger cots! Though I suppose you'd have to get really small ones or have really thick stems on the bananas.
Another alternative, if you frequently use candles, is to dip into molten wax.
-chase- djimdy2 years ago

@ djimdy - Pretty cool idea's there... the wax sparked a thought  as in Canning wax, which I just so happened to have bought some at Publix a few months ago.

I was using it to wax the window slides in the house and used barely an edge of a bar by the time I was through with that project. I was wondering just what the heck I was going to do with all these bars of wax since I don't can anything at the moment.
And I bring a couple bannanas to work each day... and I found keepting them in the fridge browns them real quick like ( I like to eat them cold).

A quick dip in the canning wax after seperating them might just do the trick.

Thanx for that add!

Just wanted to share this: http://www.chow.com/food-news/55566/why-do-bananas-turn-black-in-the-refrigerator/

The reason the skins get brown in the fridge actually doesn't have to do with ripening at all. So just make sure they're perfect ripeness before you put them in the fridge!
wilgubeast (author)  caityjay2 years ago
Actually, I'm going to try sealing the stems with white glue. It's not toxic--at least that's what the "school" glue labels say.
I wonder if condoms would work?
Silence2 years ago
Separate them all and dip the stems in warm wax maybe ?
Full coverage, remove the miss factor :)
Hey, that's a great idea! I've been saving the wax from the laughing cow cheeses for something. Now I have a use for it. :)
flyingpuppy2 years ago
Wow. I'm 50-ish and had no idea! All those rotten bananas I could have avoided! Thanks a million for this preservation tip!
vonKaos2 years ago
The second way is the one I use. Living in Brazil I must know something like that because bananas are the most common fruit here.
mholten2 years ago
I will try
inkfzz2 years ago
another thing for overripe bananas: throw 2 or 3 of them in the blender, a cup and a half of soy milk, 4-5 ice cubes and 1-2 tablespoons of peanut butter. excellent peanut butter banana shakes for breakfast and way faster than banana bread!
Amiga500 inkfzz2 years ago
Freeze the bananas first and use chocolate milk instead! We use chocolate almond milk, but I'm pretty sure soy exists too, and those smoothies are always gone fast. The little bit of peanut butter really does make all the difference.
Be sure to peel them before you freeze them. This smoothie is so so simple and awesome. We make them with milk and unsweetened cocoa.
Don't need to peel them - depending on your tolerance for food that looks (but doesn't taste) slightly slimy. Put them in the freezer peel and all, then pull them out and run hot water over the bananas in their peels until they feel slightly soft just under the skin. Crack one end (I find the stem end works better), open it just a little and squeeze out banana paste. Works great for banana bread (no need to mash), as well as for smoothies.

The ideas for keeping the bananas longer are very interesting - I'll have to try this. I have too many bananas in the freezer...
inkfzz Amiga5002 years ago
we have chocolate soy milk, but i find the chocolate too overpowering in this mix. talk about hijacking the fresh banana thread:-)
Rimwulf2 years ago
You mean I didn't need to eat all my bananas all in one sitting?
Alaskan Bev2 years ago
What would happen if you put each banana in a different room in your house?...just wonderin'...nah - great 'ible - thanks
Tamaresque2 years ago
Personally, I've never had an over-ripe banana. They are best when they are completely yellow and covered in brown spots. That's when they are at their best, have the best taste and a kind of perfume about them. If there are too many ripe bananas to eat (as if!) I put them in the fridge then and get to them as soon as I can. They are definitely my favourite fruit.
chapala212 years ago
Brown spotted bananas are in fact "ripe" TO EAT. BANANAS WITH GREEN AT THE STEMS DO NOT DIGEST WELL IN THE STOMACH. Most bananas served in the USA putrify in the stomach because they are still green.
It's awesome!!!!!
chaydgb2 years ago
I'm wondering if dipping the stems in molten wax will seal them even better than wrapping in plastic.
oilitright2 years ago
When bananas get a bit too brown and I do tend to eat them riper then some people I chuck them in the freezer, they keep very well for what I use them for which is smoothies, They can be riper then a monkey would eat and still work great for this purpose.
onemoroni12 years ago
Good simple ideas. I have heard that simply separating them will slow the ripening process. I separate mine and wrap a few in plastic and put in the fridge for later. The ones in the fridge the skin turns dark, but the flesh is firm for up to a week and nicely edible.
Lt.Greg2 years ago
Interesting science lesson. Keep them in the fridge.
Whatever you do, DON'T put them in the fridge; it makes them go grey and sludgy.
What most people don't realize is that putting them in the refrigerator causes the peeling to turn brown quicker but the bananas stay firm. It's just makes them look ugly. I've been doing this for years and the bananas are just right.
My Mom said the same thing, skin turns but bananas stay good.
Then your Mom is a smart woman !! Thanks!
I'm pretty sure that bananas have already been stored at refrigerator temperatures at the packing house. That is at least true for other fruits and vegetables. In a typical home refer, there are other environmental characteristics than just low temp. It's pretty dry in there, too.
thepete Lt.Greg2 years ago
Have you ever done that before? I try to only give advice when I've tried it myself or know for a fact that it works. In this case, I've tried it twice and the other two replies to you are right--putting bananas in the refrigerator makes them ripen and then rot faster. It was either the Stuff You Should know podcast or the Naked Scientists podcast that explain the specifics as to why this happens. If memory serves, the cold actually causes damage to the banana.
Putting bananas in the fridge makes them ripen faster, not slower.
@ uberlazy - actually I put mine in the fridge - less this process of wrapping the stem. Which I will be trying with the Bananas I get tonight.

What I found is that by putting them in the fridge - they do not rippen faster - they just turn brown fast - real fast. But stay as ripe as the day I bought them.

That mentioned I wrapped them as a whole - (not just the stem part) and I've had them loose in the fridge - both ways - wrapped whole or just loose the same result happened. the skin browned fast but the banna itself did not rippen further.

I'm going to try this instructable on some new bananas tonight... see what happens.

I may have to use this method and put only the bananas i want to take to lunch the next day in the fridge the night before... not sure yet.
tbirchett2 years ago
When they get too ripe I just slice them, put them in freezer bags, and wait to use them instead of ice cubes for my smoothies.
bitsy1132 years ago
I bet Press n Seal would work even better. It make a much better seal than Saran Wrap and you don't need nearly as much.
sitearm2 years ago
@wilgubeast; A timely topic for me, thank you! Tweeted, and will try the individual stem wrapping technique.
@batkinson1; Great tip to check out Chiquita.com.
@thegreat refrigeratordebate: "You can slow down the banana ripening process by storing the fruit in the refrigerator. The skin may darken, but the banana will be just right for several days." (chiquita.com, banana information page)
Lt.Greg sitearm2 years ago
verity332 years ago
Or wrap the bananas loosely in a couple of layers of bubble-wrap before they're ripe and put them in the fridge. They'll stay that way for (many) days. I take them out one at a time to ripen.
You can melt candle wax and glaze the stems. Dipping the whole banana in wax woul prevent it form ripening fast in the fridge too, but it will be hard to peel the wax off later.
realife112 years ago
I always put overly ripe or just ripe bananas in the freezer, and then when nice and hard, I peel them, slice them (even frozen they still slice), then put them in a food processor, and blend them up with some half+half or whipping cream (small amount, like 1/2 C.), and it turns them into a smooth banana flavored ice cream. They are already very sweet, so you don't even need sugar, unless you have a super sweet tooth. Smooth like ice cream, delicious, and a fraction of the calories of ice cream.
-chase-2 years ago
Hey thanx for posting this tip!
I knew about lettuce and other veggies and fruit and the process you mention in your instructable about the cause of spoilage. But could figure out why my wrapping process wasn't working.

Now I know, the culprate is the stem not the whole banana.

I'll will be trying this tonight on some new bananas I'll be buying tonight for lunches this coming week!
danny61142 years ago
Should your bananas get fully ripe, do this! - Banana Ice Cream Recipe : Alton Brown : Recipes : Food Network http://bit.ly/VsnCrx
What else, other than wax, could be used to coat the stems... cooking oil? vaseline? (Yum!) All we are trying to do is make the stem air-tight. Need to conduct some jungle research!
f5mando2 years ago
Wow! Brilliant! Thanks for this, WB.
jmhoward2 years ago
Wow practical science that's fun too! Well played!
NickGriffin2 years ago
The most recent issue of Cook's Magazine states that they tested 1- 2 Tablespoons Honey diluted in 1 Cup water as a substitute for the traditional Lemon Juice or Lemon Juice/water to keep fruits from browning with excellent result. I would imagine this would work for Banana Slices as well (?). I haven't tried it yet, but I often find the lemon residue less palatable...honey would be a natural sweetener as well. Thanks for your research into the never-ending quest for keeping bananas from over-ripening too soon!
no_skunk2 years ago
thanks! I'll surely try that!

We always buy too many bananas and than i have to freeze them in stocks, my freezer is a banana freezer at this point...
Kiteman2 years ago
There's no such thing as "over-ripe" bananas - they don't develop a decent flavour until the skin has gone all spotty.
I agree about the flavor improvement but of course there is such a thing as "over-ripe" bananas - just give them another month or two and they will be "over-ripe" for you too. Once they start dripping I give up on them.
corsair9772 years ago
A more effective but a little more of a pain, is to dip the cut off stems individually in some melted parrafin or candle wax.
scienstein2 years ago
I love this, my man!
agis682 years ago
thanks for sharing. Looks nice tip
rimar20002 years ago
Thanks for sharing this useful info!
sunshiine2 years ago
I appreciate fun tips like this! Thanks for sharing! My hubby likes bananas and I will share this with him.