Excite your inner cravings with the thoughts of moist banana-bread under a thick cozy blanket, now realize that you don’t have the mushy bananas to make this dream come true and you’ll understand how effective this is, at punishing your soul.
Don’t despair when you consistently find yourself in this circle however. The solution is right there on the kitchen countertop or beside the refrigerator.
Yes, that green, yellow-green or just ripe banana fruit you’re probably thinking cannot mush-up in time for a quick comfort bake.
Just keep reading, and you’ll learn how to improvise and make some magic banana bread happen!
Before we jump into the techniques however, there’s something important that we need to discuss, and that’s how ripe bananas should be in order to make the perfect banana bread. Here’s the quick answer.
How ripe do bananas need to be for banana bread?
Bananas for banana bread need to be very ripe, so ripe that infact, their flesh fall off from their peels whenever you cut them open. All brown or black bananas are therefore, the perfect bananas for this task.
They are the sweetest and their texture is just perfect for binding the batter pieces together into a memorable loaf; you can always make the texture of your bananas chunky rather than mashing them wholly into a pulp, if you like, but for those that adhere strictly to standard recipes as they are, the black and pulpy bananas (for an all mushy texture) are definitely the way to go.
Additionally, you can always make a decent banana bread with a just ripe bananas or even those that are yellow with traces of green, or those that are yellow with dark patches spattered all over their peels. They’ll taste perfect, but not as perfect and rich as those made with black bananas and certainly not as tangy!
How to ripen bananas for banana bread
1) Ripen them in the oven
By far, the quickest and most flavor-friendly method of making green bananas “dead” ripe for banana bread is to pop them in the oven. As you already know, the mushier the bananas, the better tasting loafs they’ll make!
This method works like magic because it destroys the cells present in the banana, which in turn, cause the skin and flesh to weaken and soften in structure.
The interior of the banana, once dominated by more starch molecules than sugar, now has more sugar molecules than starch because of the cell destruction and also because of the surreal increase in normal metabolic activities of the fruit. So the banana appears ripe and much sweeter.
In all honesty though, this method is more like cooking the bananas that ripening them, since the cells are pretty much destroyed (meaning that the bananas are no longer raw but cooked) and that their consistency is now reminiscent of a tooth paste; definitely not something you’ll fancy on your morning toasts!
Here’s how to ripen, or, rather, cook bananas in the oven:
- First, preheat the oven to 300°F degrees. If you’re using a convection oven which heats up much faster, preheat the oven to 275°F degrees.
- Next, line up the baking tray with aluminum foil, parchment paper or a silicone baking mate to catch possible leaks from the banana, or, alternatively, use a rimmed baking sheet or a non-stick pan for easier cleaning.
- Place the bananas with their peels on the baking sheet while making sure to give enough space between each banana.
- Bake for 15 to 40 minutes or until banana turns dark brown, and also has soft skin than give the sensation of a ready to explode fruit when poked with the fingers.
- Remove bananas from the oven and cool completely on the counter.
To add to the banana bread batter:
- Cut the end of the bananas and squeeze out the contents as you would a just finished tooth paste.
- Or, you can do it as you like.
Quick things to note:
- Bananas that are ripened in the oven would still lack that characteristic sweetness and flavor of naturally ripened ones. That;s because not sufficient amount of starch are converted to sugars before the enzymes responsible for this change die off due to heat.
- There are various experiments on the internet claiming that the lower the temperature and the longer the cooking time, the better redolent of naturally ripe bananas; in sweetness and in flavor the banana’s would be. Say, cooking them at 175°F for 2 to 3 hours. You can try that on your next banana bread project and see how it turns out for you.
- Only bake the exact amount of bananas that you need for the recipe. Baking more than required will ensure that the fruit flies outside have a bunch to feast on in the bin (which, in real sense, isn’t actually bad?). They just don’t keep well both in the fridge and on the counter.
- You can also use bright yellow bananas.
2) Pop them in a paper bag
Putting bananas in a paper bag is another way to quickly ripen them for banana bread. This method doesn’t work as fast as the earlier method, so you’ll have to plan in advance, like three to four days ahead of date (or your cravings). Because this method ripens bananas naturally, the flavors and moistness you get in the banana bread is simply heaven.
Here’s how to ripen bananas in a paper bag:
- Get a brown paper bag and stick your banana bunch in there.
- Tighten loosely and let sit in a warm area around the house, for example, near the refrigerator, on the kitchen counter, or, in the corners of a room.
- Check on the fruits twice per day; morning and evening.
- If the bananas are green, they should ripen and turn pulpy in 3 to 4 days’ time, whereas, just ripe bananas should take less than 3 days to turn mushy.
- Add two ripe apples or peaches into the bag containing the bananas in order to speed up the ripening process. This works because ripened fruits like apples and peaches exude a good amount of fruit ripening hormone called ethylene which has positive effects on the ripening of bananas. The gas basically triggers the starts of many enzymatic activities which are responsible for the changes that we see during ripening, for example, conversion of a banana’s sensation from puckering to sweet, and making the texture and skins feel much softer, among a few other things.
- Allow room for oxygen when you tighten up the bags. Oxygen is needed in order for bananas to respire and produce ethylene. Suffocating them in a tight medium limited of oxygen, for example, in the cupboard, means lower ethylene production which translates into slower ripening.
- Use fresh bananas. Those having wounds on them can quickly accelerate the ripening process of the entire bunch, which is not necessarily a bad thing (since what we’re after are black and mushy bananas after all), but when left uncontrolled, this can quickly make all the bananas go bad in a flash. You can actually use this tip to ripen bananas faster, especially when you don’t have ripe apples or peaches. Just make sure to be on the qui vive. Check them as often as three times per day.
- Use a cooler, a container without cover, a newspaper wrapper, or a regular paper as an alternative to a brown paper bag. Be sure to give enough room for oxygen to concentrate and circulate.
3) Ripen bananas by burying them in rice
The next method is to bury bananas in raw rice. This method is based on the same principle as the brown paper bag method. The ethylene principle.
For this method:
- Fill a large bowl or pot (that can bury the entire bananas) with raw rice.
- Next, bury the bananas completely in the rice and let them sit there for some time.
- This method should produce ripe mushy bananas (from green) in as little as three to four days. Yellow bananas would take much lesser time to ripen.
- Use straw, millet, maize or any other cereal as an alternative to rice.
- Use fresh bananas and do not separate them from the bunch.
4) Microwave them
The microwave is by far the quickest method on the list to ripen bananas for banana bread. One thing to note however, is that just like the oven method (but far worse than it), the microwave produces fruits that are softened but are partially rich in flavors. You may have to supplement with additional brown sugar. If you’re okay with this method, then here’s how to do it.
How to ripen bananas in a microwave:
- Peel the bananas.
- Place them in a microwave safe plate.
- Heat them on the highest power setting until they sizzle, about 30 seconds.
- Your bananas are ready for mashing!
5) Let them ripen naturally
The last and final alternative is to allow the bananas to drug themselves in their own alcohol (ethylene) and ripen naturally in a corner. Find a way to convince your inner cravings that the timing isn’t yet right. And that when the time comes, you’ll have the best bananas bread that the quickest techniques on this list can’t even produce! A moist chewy treat that is best described as the epitome of comfort foods!
How to ripen bananas naturally:
To ripen your bananas on the counter, let them sit tip side down in the corners of a room or on the counter, or hang freely from a banana tree stand of a fruit bowl. Green bananas should take more than a week to turn black and mushy – perfect for using in a banana bread recipe, and yellow bananas should take nothing more than a week to turn so.