How To Keep Bananas Fresh

Picking out a bunch of bananas is never easy – there are a lot of factors to think about. Are you planning on eating them right away? Or do you have time to let them ripen? How many bananas can you eat before they go bad? There’s got to be a solution to our everlasting (or not so lasting) issue. Dr. Jeffrey Brecht is a Postharvest Physiologist, an expert who is knowledgeable in the longevity of a crop from harvest to the time of use or deterioration, at the University of Florida. He gave us the 411 on how to properly store bananas to maintain freshness.

How should I be storing my bananas to maintain freshness?

Dr. Brecht: “Compared to keeping bananas on an open kitchen counter, placing the fruit in a cool place (not less than about 58 degrees though) will slow ripening and allow them to last longer.

“In addition to cool temperature, a loosely closed (not sealed) plastic bag can reduce water loss, which promotes the brown spot formation.”

So, how does storing bananas this way slow down ripening?

Dr. Brecht: “It’s also possible to keep bananas in a plastic bag that restricts diffusion of respiratory gases and creates a modified atmosphere, but that can be a little risky to try on your own due to the possibility that the atmosphere will become too extreme and trigger fermentation.”

Is there anything that you recommend storing bananas in?

Dr. Brecht: “One bag that I can recommend is Breatheway Clearly Fresh bags, which are designed for this purpose.”

Bananas, like most fruits, react with ethylene, an airborne hormone, which jumpstarts the ripening process. When a fruit comes in contact with this gas, the acids start to break down. One of the reasons that bananas ripen so quickly is that they create a larger amount of ethylene than most fruits.

So, what’s the next step for prolonging the shelf-life of bananas? GMO bananas.

How would GMO bananas impact people?

Dr. Brecht: “The gene being modified is always going to be chosen because some trait will be improved. It may be a gene that confers resistance to a disease during plant growth; it could be a gene that improves flavor or shelf life. A GMO banana in which the modification is of a gene involved in pro-vitamin A production has been developed. Those bananas are much deeper yellow color since the gene makes an enzyme involved in beta-carotene (pro-vitamin A) synthesis, which is a yellow-colored natural compound. Of course, those bananas are nutritionally superior to the wild-type since vitamin A is essential for human health.”

Storing bananas to maintain freshness can be as simple as storing them in a plastic bag to extend their ripeness. Now that you know how to maintain freshness of bananas, is it a good idea to store the bananas in the refrigerator?  Also look at how to make bananas ripen more quickly.