How to age bananas for banana bread?
My gran was an amazing woman, and when she disappeared into the kitchen, it wasn’t long before the most delicious and mouth-watering aromas would start wafting from the kitchen.
She was highly renowned for her banana bread.
She even won a few state championships for the best banana bread.
There were even rumors that the recipe she used was once a trusted secret in Abraham Lincoln’s family.
Whether any of that was true, I’ll never know.
All I know is that my gran would manage to make a banana loaf, whether she had ripe bananas or not.
I was utterly mesmerized by her strange skill, so I decided to ask her—how did she always manage to get ripe bananas for her banana loaf?
There are several ways to ripen or age bananas for banana bread. While you can wait for the bananas to ripen the natural way, you can help nature along.
How to Age Bananas for Banana Bread?
Bananas ripen when exposed to ethylene gas, which is released by ripening fruit. Placing bananas in a packet will ripen the bananas more easily. Bananas can also be baked in their skin in the oven, or ripened by baking them in the microwave to reach the soft, mushy texture that an over-ripe banana gives to banana bread.
4 Ways to Aging Bananas for Banana Bread
My gran shared that her secret to making banana bread at any time was that she knew just how to get a banana ripe and ready or aged for tasty banana bread.
Even when she had a banana that was still quite green, she could get it ripe in a matter of minutes! I begged her to tell me how, and finally, she did.
1. Natural Aging
Bananas age naturally, and for the most part, these yummy fruits tend to age way too fast and spoil before we can enjoy them.
However, for banana bread, you need very ripe bananas or well-aged bananas.
In nature, bananas take between two and four weeks to reach that “almost rotten” stage where their skins have turned dark brown and almost black.
These are perfect banana bread bananas.
2. Companion Aging
Should you know that you will be making banana bread in a few days’ time, you can use companion aging to ripen the bananas.
Since bananas age better when they are in close proximity to other ripe fruit, you can stick your under-ripe bananas in a brown paper packet with an already ripe apple or another ripe banana.
My gran used to keep a partly mushy apple in the fridge just for this purpose, and it works like a charm.
3. Baking to Age Bananas
Simply line a baking tray with wax paper, and then place the bananas on the paper.
Slip the tray into a preheated oven at 300ºF for 20-25 minutes. When the bananas are fully ripened, their skin should be black and soft.
Upon opening them (and be careful, the hot bananas can really burn and steam), you should find soft and mushy banana flesh with some syrupy goodness too.
4. Microwave Aging Bananas
If you want to save electricity or don’t have a gas oven, you can also use a microwave to ripen your semi-ripe bananas.
Line your microwave with baking paper.
Place the banana on the paper after poking the banana with a fork.
Don’t forget the pokey step or you’ll be washing banana goo off the inside of your microwave when the banana builds pressure and explodes.
Microwave the banana on high for 30-120 seconds, but check the banana every 30 seconds to see if it is soft enough by pressing on it.
Take care when removing the banana as it can build pressure (despite the holes) and it can pop suddenly when you press on it.
While I was amazed, I had one more question for gran—how did she make banana bread when it wasn’t really banana season?
Storing Aged Bananas for Banana Bread
While bananas are imported all year round, it is sometimes difficult to find good quality bananas, and I know I often don’t have bananas in the house, so how did my gran manage it?
When bananas are ripe and well-aged, you can store them and arrest the aging process to prevent rot.
My gran loved to peel her dark ripened bananas and freeze them. Then it was a simple matter of a quick defrost in the microwave and she was ready to bake.
For an almost ripe banana that you will be using in a few days’ time, you can place the banana in its peel in a sealed container in the fridge.
The banana will continue to age slowly, creating a rich syrup and mushy pulp that is ideal for making banana bread.
Frequently Asked Questions About How to Age Bananas for Banana Bread
How long does it take for bananas to ripen for banana bread?
Naturally aging bananas can take between two and four weeks, depending on the temperature, how many bananas you are ripening, and if there is significant airflow around the bananas.
Can I use not so ripe bananas for banana bread?
Bananas need to be very ripe, even overripe, for banana bread. The mushy texture of aged bananas will help the pulp absorb into the dough better and provide a richer taste.
Can a banana be too-ripe for baking?
Bananas are sweetest when they have gone black. The aging process has ripened the banana, converting starches into sugars, which will be perfect for baking.
Conclusion About How to Age Bananas for Banana Bread
Ripe and overripe bananas are ideal for banana loaf, but bananas that are starting to become syrupy are best by far.
My gran had one piece of advice for me that I use to ensure the bananas I use for my banana bread haven’t gone bad.
Spoiled bananas will have a sour and alcoholic scent as fermentation has set in. You may also notice green and gray spots that indicate mold and rot.
These bananas are best composted as they will give you food poisoning if eaten.
My gran has created a legacy of aging bananas, and with her skills.
Now, I am also amazing my own family with the delicious banana bread I can bake with seemingly ever-ripe bananas.