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Are Black Bananas Safe to Eat?

Are Black Bananas Safe to Eat? I’m sure you’ve already thrown a banana away just because it went a little too black.   

In fact, according to the Chicago Tribune, 5 billion bananas are discarded each year in the U.S., and one of the main reasons is because of their overripe color. 

Too much polyphenol oxidase, a fruit ripening enzyme, is responsible for this unappetizing color. But does it mean it isn’t safe to eat a black banana?

In this article, I will discuss whether a black banana is safe to eat or not.

Are Black Bananas Safe to Eat?

Black bananas are safe to eat. The dark color is perfectly normal as bananas begin to overripe. Darker bananas are even sweeter and yield more nutrients than yellow bananas as they carry more antioxidants. But on the other hand, it is vital to know which part of the banana has blackened and to what extent to determine how safe it is to consume.

Are Black Bananas Safe to Eat
Are Black Bananas Safe to Eat

Why Do Bananas Turn Black And How to Avoid it?

Bananas are tropical fruits, but temperatures higher than 57 degrees Fahrenheit (13.8 °C) speed up their discoloration once they ripen. 

Bananas naturally contain polyphenol oxidase, and when exposed to too much oxygen, it causes a discouraging black color.

Temperatures above 57 °F speed up the discoloration of bananas once they ripen.
Temperatures above 57 °F speed up the discoloration of bananas once they ripen.

This fruit enzyme is also the reason why bananas become black as they mature.

In fact, it is impossible to prevent bananas from turning black, but you can prolong the ripening process.

To stall the aging process of bananas, it is best to keep them in a fridge or inside a kitchen cabinet away from other fruits and sun exposure.

Interestingly enough, unripe bananas should never be stored in cold temperatures to avoid them from rapidly turning black, as VirginiaTech states.  

Another trick to delay the darkening of bananas is by tightly wrapping their stems in plastic.

The stem is where Ethylene is secreted which speeds up the ripening process of bananas.  

To stall the aging process of bananas, keep them away from other fruits as the ethylene released by other fruits may speed up its ripening.
To stall the aging process of bananas, keep them away from other fruits as the ethylene released by other fruits may speed up its ripening.

When Are Black Bananas Unsafe?

Spotty brown to black bananas are considered rotten fruit by most people.

Others can’t wait for bananas to get dark spots and become black.

This begs the question of where we draw the line between an overripe and a decaying banana?

The short answer is that your senses are the best jury.

Once the bananas become black and the skin starts to split or it just tastes off, they should no longer be consumed.

When the skin of bananas starts to break, there’s a good chance it’s already infected with mold and parasites and should no longer be eaten.

An outer black banana peel is tolerable, but a black inner peel is a red flag as well.

This can be an early indication of rot especially if it’s emitting foul-smelling liquid as well. Yikes!

Another key pointer I always look out for is the black center syndrome. Polyphenol oxidase was lightly mentioned here as a ripening factor, but it also has adverse effects on bananas

This syndrome develops at the fruit’s core making it black and crunchy, and it can quickly make you sick.

The black center syndrome is nothing to worry about as you can simply scrape it off the banana’s core while the rest of it remains healthy and harmless. 

Other than these factors, black bananas should still be safe for you if you don’t mind eating an extra mushy fruit.

Once the bananas become black and the skin starts to split or it just tastes off, they should no longer be consumed.
Once the bananas become black and the skin starts to split or it just tastes off, they should no longer be consumed.

What are the Benefits of Black Bananas?

Black bananas are found with benefits that lower your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other memory disorders as reported in a study by Cornell Chronicle.  

Aside from being sweet and versatile, black bananas also prolong lives as they also hold back cell damage that causes various diseases like cancer. Its antioxidants are the ultimate lifesaver. 

According to Health Information Associates, bananas even create a better mood and are a great source of amino acid tryptophan.

This acid prompts our body to produce serotonin, the mood-elevating neurotransmitter.  

Surprisingly, black bananas are also the best peels to minimize wrinkles, soothe inflammation, and brighten the skin as they have more antioxidants.

Since black bananas are soft and sloppy, they take away the hassle when working with them for various banana recipes

How Do I Make Use of Black Bananas?

Black bananas are softer and they’re easier to work with.

Of course, this section would not be complete without the good old banana bread.

I love this Cream Cheese-Filled Banana Bread recipe by Averie Cooks.

She showed how overripe bananas can create a great banana bread when paired with cream cheese in just a few easy steps.

Another masterpiece is Karina’s Banana Cream Pie Breakfast Smoothie which once again brings out the best of black bananas.

Mushy bananas are also an ideal ingredient for smoothies and shakes.

Throwing away black bananas is like throwing a bunch of healthy nutrients. Next time, don’t throw your black bananas away but use them in your own recipes!  

Black bananas are softer and are perfect to use for banana bread and other baked goods.
Black bananas are softer and are perfect to use for banana bread and other baked goods.

Conclusion On Are Black Bananas Safe to Eat

Consuming black bananas is safe and they are loaded with nutrients and a sweet taste.

Physical signs like moldy peels and dark cores are indications that an ultra-ripe banana is no longer safe to eat. 

From now on don’t get rid of black bananas right away. As long as they do not have a black core, black bananas are healthier and sweeter compared to regular bananas.

Frequently Asked Questions About Are Black Bananas Safe to Eat

What Happens If I Eat the Black Core of a Banana?

If a banana with a black core is consumed, it may cause vomiting and diarrhea. A black core on a banana is caused by the black center syndrome.

How Long Does It Take Before a Banana Becomes Overripe?

Bananas usually reach the overripe stage after 5 days to a week from fully ripening. How fast a banana ripens depends on the production of ethylene gas, but factors such as temperature and how it is stored play an important role in how fast bananas become overrripe as well.

Author Bio

Daniel Iseli (Head Chef)

Hi, my name is Daniel and I am passionate about cooking. I have been cooking for the past 20 years and am happy to share my best recipes and cooking-related knowledge with you.