A banana that is perfectly ripe for eating is not at the same stage in its ripening process as one that is perfect for making into a banana cake. For baking, you need the sweetness that comes from an overripe banana – this means it will be very yellow with a few brown spots and feel soft. Find out 10 ways to use up overripe bananas.
How bananas ripen
Bananas give off ethene (also known as ethylene) gas, a natural plant hormone that regulates a plant’s growth and makes it ripen by converting the starch it stores into sugar. All fruits do this, but bananas produce a large amount, which is why they will ripen other climacteric fruits (fruit that will ripen off the plant that it grows on).
Unless you have unripe avocado or tomatoes that need help ripening, keep bananas separate to the rest of your fruit to stop this happening.
Two ways to ripen bananas
Paper bag method
In order to speed up the ripening process, all you need to do is trap the ethene gas in with the banana by putting them in a paper bag – fruit gives off moisture, so you must use a bag that won’t trap moisture. Ripening in a bag usually takes a day or so, but can be as speedy as overnight – just keep checking.
Cooking to ripen
All over the internet, you’ll find advice to 'cook' your bananas to ripeness. This method of ‘ripening’ bananas isn’t really ripening them, though it does make them soft and easy to bake with. There are a few things you should know before you put all your unripe bananas in the oven.
Use yellow bananas that are already sweet but not quite soft enough to bake with, and cook them in an oven heated to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 for about 30-40 mins. They will blacken and feel very soft (if you over cook them they may even burst, so keep an eye on them), and they may become marginally sweeter. These will be fine to bake with.
If you use green bananas, they will also blacken and soften, but you won’t ripen them to the sweetness you need for making a good banana loaf or banana muffins.
What to do if you have too many overripe bananas
Ripe bananas that are starting to go past their best can be frozen until you need them. They will go black in the freezer – defrost them and squeeze out of their skins.
5 brilliant recipes using overripe bananas
Banana cake with pecan crumble
The topping on this adds extra texture, or you can leave it off if you want to make a plainer loaf.
Chocolate & banana cake
...because bananas and chocolate is a match made in heaven!
Banana & praline parfait
Slightly overripe bananas can make a spectacular dinner-party dessert.
Banana pancakes with crispy bacon
Banana pancakes make a great breakfast – just add bacon to make them extra indulgent.
The easiest thing to make with a ripe banana!