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How Ripe is Too Ripe for Banana Bread

Bananas can be riper than expected when you use them to make banana bread, which is why some bakers prefer bananas that have turned black.

Black bananas for banana bread are perfect. I prefer to always use bananas that are almost entirely black.

Banana bread can be used as a snack or dessert, and it is a great way to make use of bananas that are too ripe. It can be hard to figure out the proper ripeness of bananas.

While you don’t want the bananas to go bad, they must be ripe enough.

How do you know when bananas have become too ripe? Well, that’s what I discuss in the rest of the article.

How ripe is too ripe for banana bread?

Bananas are too ripe for banana bread when any of these three conditions exist:

  • the banana has mold on or in it;
  • there are black spots inside the skin of the banana;
  • the banana no longer smells like a banana (it just smells “off“)

Crossing the threshold: when bananas are too ripe for banana bread

How ripe is too ripe for banana bread
There is no too ripe banana for banana bread

If you are looking for a great banana bread recipe you can visit the BBC Good Food website.

Banana bread is best made from black bananas, meaning that black-skinned bananas are nothing to be frightened of.

Bananas should be slightly flecked brown or black, with a touch of green at their stems. However, the darker the bananas, the better.

The threshold of ripeness into rottenness is crossed when you notice mold on the banana, or the banana no longer smells like a banana, or there are black spots inside the skin of the banana.

If you don’t come across any of these indicators, then your bananas are good to go.

Brown spots. Cut out any brown spots on the banana (but not if the brown spots are moldy. If there’s mold anywhere on the banana, just throw it away).

Black spots. Black spots are more problematic. If there are lots of black spots on the banana, I would throw away the banana. If there are only a few, I’d cut them out. It’s really a judgment call.

What about banana bread with bananas that aren’t ripe enough?

For banana bread overripe bananas are needed
For banana bread, very ripe bananas are needed

Unfortunately, you can’t just take bananas from the fruit bowl in your kitchen and start baking banana bread.

You can’t even just buy a few bananas at a grocery store to use in your banana bread baking, either. The trouble is, banana bread requires ripe bananas.

Bananas should be ripe enough to have brown spots on their peel. In fact, ideally, you don’t want any green on the banana peel whatsoever.

That said, you don’t want your bananas to be rotten either, which is probably why you’re reading this article.

So why all the fuss and bother about bananas that have ripened for a long time?

Well, when bananas ripen, their starch turns into sugar. So, as the fruits age, they become ever sweeter, and that sugar can be used to enhance the flavor of baked foods.

It doesn’t even matter if the bananas are frozen or at room temperature–as long as enough of their starch has turned to sugar, you can bake banana bread.

How long does it take to get bananas ready for banana bread?

Newly bought bananas are not suitable for banana bread
Newly bought bananas are not suitable for banana bread

What should bananas look like for banana bread?

Bananas are not ready for baking when you buy them. Allow the bananas to ripen at room temperature for up to eight weeks if you want to ripen them to the perfect black-all-over skin color.

Important: “black-all-over” is the color of the banana’s skin. Inside, bananas should still be yellow or brown. They may have a few dark spots that you can cut out, but overall, there should still be that striking contrast between the color of the banana’s skin and the color of the banana’s flesh.

Of course, most folks don’t plan their baking schedule eight weeks ahead! So if you’re like most people, fear not.

You can store ripe bananas in your freezer to get around this problem.

To do this, put any banana you find that is not quite ripe enough into a Ziploc bag, and toss the bag into the freezer.

The banana will turn dark brown to black in the freezer, which is completely normal, so don’t fret about it.

All you have to do then is to thaw your frozen bananas at room temperature and then bake them.

Eight weeks to overripen my bananas! Who’s got eight weeks?

Bananas ripen faster in a group
Bananas ripen faster in a group

Sometimes, the problem isn’t that your bananas might be too ripe, but that they are definitely not ripe enough to make banana bread.

Luckily, there are some tricks you can use to speed up your bananas’ ripening process.

For example, you can leave the bananas where it’s the warmest in your home, such as a window that receives plenty of sunlight.

Make sure that the sunlight is indirect, such as when filtered through sheer or lace curtains.

You’re not trying to cook the bananas early! This method can ripen bananas in about five days, depending on how ripe they were, to begin with.

Tip: bananas ripen faster when they are in a group.

You can also speed up the process of ripening bananas using a paper bag. Always fold down the top of the paper bag.

Add riper bananas or other ripe fruits to the bag to speed up your bananas’ ripening process. Why?

Bananas, like many fruits, produce ethylene when they ripen.

Ethylene increases the rate of ripening, so bananas will ripen faster when they are in the presence of ethylene, and (within reason) the more ethylene, the better.

Using this paper bag technique, your bananas should be ripe enough for banana bread within two or three days.

What you need to know about the nutritional value of bananas

According to the Harvard Public School of Health, the scientific name for bananas is Musa.

The main type of bananas sold in the US and Europe is the Cavendish type.

Bananas are a great source of:

  • Fiber
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin C
  • Mangane

One banana contains around 110 calories and is rich in carbohydrates (28g) and natural sugars (15g), contains 0 gram of fat and 1 gram of protein as well as 3 grams of fiber and 450 mg of potassium.

Frequently Asked Questions About Ripe Bananas

Can I get sick from eating overripe bananas?

Very ripe bananas are mostly safe to eat. However, they can cause tummy upsets from the high levels of sugar they contain. Especially if eaten in large numbers. Bananas that are rotten or damaged are not safe for consumption, nor are any bananas that have mold on-or-in them.

How can I tell if I can use my bananas for banana bread?

Banana bread is best made from black bananas. They should be at least slightly streaked brown and have some green color left at their stems. Banana bread with just-about-ripe bananas tastes plain awful, so definitely stay away from any bananas that aren’t overripe.

Are my bananas too ripe for banana bread?

A ripe banana for banana bread is perfect. It is almost impossible to have a banana that is too ripe. Even black bananas that ripened for more than 8 weeks are perfectly suited as long as there is no mold on them and they do not smell unpleasant.

Conclusion About How Ripe is Too Ripe for Banana Bread

The darker the bananas the better for banana bread

“Green” (or perhaps they appear “yellow”) bananas are not yet ripe. Green bananas make dreadful ingredients for banana-baking.

“Brown” bananas, though tempting, are still not ready for banana-baking. Employ self-discipline and patience!

“Black” all over bananas are perfectly overripened for banana-baking.

These bananas still smell like bananas, they don’t have any/many brown or black spots on them, and they are definitely not moldy.

With this type of banana, you can bake banana bread, banana cookies, and banana cakes that have that delicious banana flavor.