How to keep bananas fresh so they don’t turn brown

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Bananas are the ticking time bombs of fruit. It seems like they can go from green and bitter to brown and Fruit Fly Central overnight. At that point, you might as well pull out your bread tins and and make banana bread for all the neighbors.

So, how can you lengthen that sweet spot period when bananas are sweet, yellow and perfectly ripe? It’s all about how and where you store these little potassium boomerangs.

Here are a few tips for storing bananas so they will stay ripe and yellow (not brown) for as long as possible.

MORE: Does storing fruit in mason jars help it keep longer? We tested this kitchen hack

Invest in a Banana Hanger

One of the best ways to keep bananas from ripening too quickly is with a banana hanger. Bruised fruit is going to ripen more quickly, because the bruising harms the skin and jeopardizes its ability to protect the fruit from oxygen and cellular breakdown. Try storing your banana bunch on a banana hanger, which prevents the bananas from sitting on top of each other — the pressure from which can cause bruising. You can even find dual-purpose fruit storage solutions, like a fruit bowl-banana hanger combo that adds a dash of cuteness to your countertop aesthetic.

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MORE: How to get rid of fruit flies

Store Bananas in a Cool, Dark Area

Warmth and light are two of the biggest offenders when it comes to the rapid ripening of fruit. And for many of us, the kitchen is the brightest and warmest room in the house. So if you want to keep your bananas safe from over-ripening, try storing them someplace cool and dark, far away from the oven and other heat or light sources.

You can take care of the “dark” part of the equation by supplying your bananas with their very own sack, like a banana storage bag. Storing bananas inside the darkness of a breathable bag could help lengthen their lifespan.

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MORE: 5 fruits you shouldn’t refrigerate

Use Plastic Wrap on the Stems

Have you ever noticed that the bananas at the grocery store often have plastic wrap on their stems? The plastic wasn’t left on there by mistake — that plastic wrap on the stems is there to help the bananas stay fresh and delay over-ripening.

When bananas ripen, their stems release ethylene gas, and when it spreads to the rest of the fruit, it will quickly ripen. The plastic wrap around the stem keeps the ethylene gas contained so the bananas are less exposed to it. Try this grocery store trick by either keeping the plastic wrap around the stems or adding your own.

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Wrap the Stems in Foil

The Kitchn conducted an experiment to find out which tactic was best at keeping bananas from ripening too quickly, and while the plastic-wrap-on-the-stems trick worked well enough, it turned out to be even more effective when swapping the plastic wrap for heavy-duty foil. The idea behind this tactic is the same as the reasoning behind using plastic wrap: The foil keeps the ethylene gas contained, which slows the ripening process. Out of the seven hacks that the writer tried, fashioning the bananas with a little tin hat produced the best results.

banana bunch with foil wrapped on stems
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Pop Them in the Fridge—Once They Are Ripe

You can store bananas in the fridge to delay their browning process — but you need to make sure that the bananas are already at your desired ripeness before you stick them in the refrigerator. If you put green bananas in the fridge, they will probably stay that way. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, if you put bananas into the refrigerator too soon, they are at risk of “chilling injury,” which can negatively impact their flavor and texture.

ripe bananas in a refrigerator
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Use Lemon Juice

If you want to keep sliced bananas from going brown (if you are using them in a fruit salad or putting them in your kid’s bento box), sprinkle a little lemon juice on top of the bananas after you slice them. The lemon juice will keep the bananas from turning brown and mushy, and you shouldn’t be able to taste the lemon flavor in the final product.

sliced bananas and a bunch of bananas
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If you still end up with too-ripe bananas, you can try some of these fun banana bread recipes, like this chocolate spice banana bread and caramel macchiato banana bread, or for something truly decadent, banana bread bottom cheesecake.

Kate Emswiler contributed to this report. 

Food, Life Hacks
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About the Author
Bridget Sharkey
Bridget Sharkey is a freelance writer covering pop culture, beauty, food, health and nature. Visit Scripps News to see more of Bridget's work.

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