As you’ve probably noticed in the marketplace, bananas are picked and shipped green. They are the only fruit that actually develop better color, texture, aroma, and sweetness when ripened after harvest. They ripen quickly after being harvested and will also hasten ripening of other fruits in their vicinity. It’s the tiny seeds within the fruit that release a ripening hormone, a mixture of ethylene gas and carbon dioxide.
When selecting bananas, think about your usage time frame. You may wish to choose some already ripe for immediate use and some still slightly but not overly green to ripen for later use. Select bananas that are bright in color, full and plump, avoiding those with bruises. A dull, gray color indicates they have been chilled or overheated during storage.
Ripe bananas show no trace of green skin. Fullest flavor is derived from bananas that begin to develop tiny dark specks. If you are unable to easily break the stem to peel the banana, it is not yet ripe. If the skin is difficult to separate from the fruit, it is most likely too starchy and bitter to eat without cooking and could cause digestional distress and/or constipation if eaten raw.
You can speed up the ripening process by placing the bananas in an open paper bag on the counter. Bananas are best stored on the counter, away from direct heat and sunlight.
Bananas can be refrigerated for several days to stunt ripening. Although the skins of refrigerated bananas will turn brown, the fruit itself will be fine. Allow the refrigerated fruit to come to room temperature before consuming for full flavor.
Peeled bananas should be eaten immediately lest they discolor due to exposure to the air. Bananas can be frozen whole, but don’t expect the same texture when thawed. Freeze them in their skin and save for later use in sauces, baked goods, or blended drinks.
Add one tablespoon of citrus or pineapple juice to one cup of mashed bananas and freeze in a sealed container up to three months.