Have you ever had a hankering for banana bread and realized the bananas on your counter are nowhere near ripe enough to bake with? Or wanted to eat or make something with fresh bananas and all the grocery store had was green unappealing bananas? Well, here are the best solutions to quickly ripen your bananas for baking or eating, and I’ll explain why.

A yellow-green bunch of bananas on marble.

How to ripen bananas for eating:

The best way to quickly ripen bananas for eating is to place your underripe bananas in a paper bag with an apple. Loosely fold down the top and check on it daily. Depending on how green your bananas are, it should take about 2-5 days.

A bunch of bananas in a paper bag with a red apple.

Placing the bananas in a paper bag encloses the natural ethylene gas emitted from the fruit and helps ripen the fruit faster. Adding an apple adds more ethylene to the mix and speeds up the process even more. This method is much faster than placing the bananas in a warm area or in a paper bag alone.

How to ripen bananas for baking:

The best way to quickly ripen bananas for baking is to place them in the oven on a lined baking sheet at 300F for about 20-30 minutes (depending on the size and ripeness of the bananas) until the skin is completely black. Place the bananas in the freezer for 10-15 minutes to cool while you gather the rest of your ingredients and start preparing your recipe.

Three bananas on a baking sheet before and after ripening in the oven.

Now, you’re actually cooking the bananas using this process, so it’s not exactly the same as ripening. But what’s happening when you bake the bananas at low heat is the starch is slowly breaking down and converting into sugar, giving it very similar results. You can speed up this process by cranking up the heat to 350F or 400F and have brown bananas in 5-10 minutes, but low and slow is preferred in order to convert more of the starch into sugar for sweet, almost caramelized bananas for baking. This method works best with yellowish-green bananas. You can use the paper bag method to turn your green bananas to yellow-green, then use the oven to brown them.

The microwave method:

You can also soften ripe but firm bananas in the microwave to make them easier to mash. Simply poke holes all over your bananas using a pointy knife or toothpick. Place them on a microwave-safe plate because they might leak as they heat up. Microwave on high for 1 minute at a time until the bananas are completely soft to the touch (about 2-3 minutes). Let cool in the freezer for 10 minutes or so and they’re ready for baking.

before and after microwaved bananas on a plate

This method works best with bananas that are already sweet and starting to brown (as pictured above) because cooking them in the microwave in such a short period of time just softens the texture. It does not allow for the sugars to develop.

Now that you know how to quickly ripen bananas, here are some great recipes for you to try:

bananas with an apple in a paper bag and black bananas on a baking sheet

Source: Food52 and The Spruce Eats

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