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I Tried 7 Ways of Storing Bananas and the Surprising Winner Outlasted Them All

published Feb 3, 2024
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Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe

If you’re a once-a-week grocery shopper, bananas might be a regular source of frustration. In just a few days most of your bananas are too ripe to enjoy out of hand and relegated (albeit deliciously) to smoothies or banana bread.

To see which storage methods keep bananas in prime shape the longest, we worked to find some highly touted techniques to pit against each other. Most of them involve stashing the fruit at room temperature, but the fridge and freezer come into play, too. 

It’s worth reiterating that our goal was not to test how to ripen bananas, but instead how best to keep them looking and tasting their best. (Which is why we did not test storing in a paper bag, as that method is well-known as a way to quickly ripen bananas.)

In the end, we found a few ways to keep bananas in prime shape, and the winning method was one of the easiest.

Quick Overview

So, What Is the Best Way to Store Bananas?

For bananas with the best texture for out-of-hand eating, less browning, and well-developed sweetness, wrap the stems in foil.

A Few Notes on Methodology

  • The bananas: I purchased bunches of conventional (not organic) bananas from the same grocery store on the same day. I selected four-banana bunches that were all at the same degree of ripeness — bright yellow, unblemished peels for the most part, with a bit of green on the ends. I also purchased a couple of loose bananas at the same stage of ripeness and tasted them on the front end to gauge their flavor so that I could establish a starting-point baseline. They were starchy and a bit “green” with a subtle amount of sweetness. 
  • The storage spaces: For the bananas that I stored on my kitchen counter, I cleared a space so they could rest near each other without touching; they were away from the stove and out of direct sunlight. For the bananas I tossed in the fridge, I placed them in a crisper drawer. For those stored in the freezer, the fruit simply rested in a drawer.
  • The testing: I began the tests as soon as I got home from the supermarket with the fruit. I stored the bananas for a total of six days, at which point there were distinct differences in appearance. I tasted bites from all four bananas in each of the seven bunches.
  • Ratings: I judged each method on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 reserved for absolute perfection. The main factor I considered was the level of ripeness — which involved the exterior color of the bananas, as well as the flavor and texture of the peeled fruit. My preferences lean toward medium to pronounced sweetness and a little bit of bite in the texture (not mushy).
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe

Banana Storing Method: In the Freezer

  • Rating: 4/10 

About this method: I started testing this method immediately upon returning from the store with the fruit. Although the parameters of my testing stated to store all banana bunches intact, I varied a bit when testing this method. I stashed an intact bunch in the freezer, but I also froze a couple of separated (unpeeled) bananas and a couple of peeled ones. I froze them for six days before tasting them.

Results: All of the unpeeled bananas’ skins were darkened but not black. As expected, the unpeeled bananas — whether from the intact bunch or the separated singles — were impossible to peel from the frozen state. 

Once partially thawed (after about 30 minutes), I peeled and tasted these, as well as the ones that were peeled before freezing. When fully thawed, all were quite mushy. They all tasted unripe and starchy, which was also expected; every one of the many sources I consulted for this method stated that freezing is best for ripe bananas, as the cold temperature halts ripening. So if starchy, unripe-tasting bananas go into the freezer, that’s what will come out. 

Now, if you have ripe bananas that you don’t want to waste, by all means freeze them. But first, learn the right way to freeze bananas

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe

Banana Storing Method: In the Fridge

  • Rating: 5/10 

About this method: To test this technique, I stashed a bunch of bananas straight from the store into the crisper drawer for six days.

Results: As with the freezer method detailed above, these bananas had dark skins and tasted unripe, with a “green” and reedy flavor. After six days in the fridge, they looked like they might have ripened some (because their skins had darkened), but they were firm, crisp, and starchy. 

The texture was better than the ones that thawed from the freezer, but the flavor was less than ideal. Of course, if you want to preserve bananas that have reached your optimal degree of ripeness, by all means stash them in the fridge for a few days or up to a week to hold them in that state.  

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe

Banana Storing Method: On the Counter

  • Rating: 6/10 

About this method: This method involved basically doing the least to the fruit. I simply placed the bunch on the counter and waited for six days.

Results: After six days, these bananas looked the ripest of all the ones stored at room temperature. They had lots of dark brown patches and streaks, as well as plenty of brown freckles all over the skins. 

The flesh was very sweet, and the “seeds” or flecks in the center of the fruit were noticeably darkened. The texture was quite soft — a bit too mushy for enjoying out of hand but ideal for baking or blending.

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe

Banana Storing Method: On a Hook

  • Rating: 8/10 

About this method: For this method, I used a metal stand like this to suspend my banana bunch over the counter. Hanging bananas this way is purported to prevent bruising and encourage even ripening. 

Results: After the testing period, the bananas were well covered in brown freckles. The flesh was moderately soft with deepened sweetness. These bananas held up slightly better than the ones simply stored on the counter, yet they still ripened quite a bit, with dark brown seeds in the middle of the fruit.

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe

Banana Storing Method: Stems Wrapped with Plastic Wrap

  • Rating: 8/10 

About this method: The thinking behind this method is that ethylene gas, which causes ripening, is released from banana stems — so containing that gas should slow ripening. I kept the banana bunch intact and tightly wrapped plastic wrap around the stems. (I did not separate the bananas, as we tested that before and weren’t impressed.)

Results: These bananas tied in every way with the ones that were stored on a hook (see above). They had basically the exact same amount of visible ripening, with small and medium dark spots on all of the skins. The flesh was somewhat soft (but not mushy) and a little sweeter than when I brought them home from the store. The seeds in the middle of the fruit were blackened.

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe

Banana Storing Method: In a Plastic Produce Bag

  • Rating: 8.5/10 

About this method: Although several sources warned against storing bananas in a sealed bag, we decided to test this method anyway. I opted for a reusable, BPA-free sealable bag and closed a banana bunch inside.

Results: After the testing period, the bag was puffed out, as if some gas had been released and inflated the bag a bit. Because the bag is opaque, I couldn’t see what the bananas looked like, so I was completely surprised at their appearance when I opened the bag. They had mostly pristine sunny yellow skins, with still a bit of green at the stem ends. There were almost no spots. 

The most interesting result from this test came when I peeled the fruit. The flesh was very soft and intensely creamy, with not just concentrated but positively enhanced flavor similar to banana-flavored candy (a taste that’s actually modeled after a now-extinct banana cultivar). I was blown away by the flavor of these bananas, but the texture was, to me, a bit puzzling. It wasn’t exactly unpleasant, but the high level of creaminess was not my cup of tea.

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe

Banana Storing Method: Stems Wrapped with Foil

  • Rating: 9.5/10 

About this method: Similar to the plastic wrap method detailed above, this one seeks to stop the release of ethylene gas (or at least contain it) so that the fruit ripens more evenly and slowly. I used a piece of heavy-duty foil and wrapped it tightly around the stems of the banana bunch.

Results: Although the methods were similar, these bananas fared better than the ones with the stems wrapped in plastic wrap. These bananas had just tiny flecks on the skins (as opposed to the medium and small spots of the others), with lots of unblemished yellow skin still showing. 

The flesh was more deeply sweet than the ones wrapped in plastic wrap and a little firmer, too (which I loved), with a little bit of resistance in each bite. I would happily enjoy these bananas as is — for out-of-hand snacking, sliced onto oatmeal, or in the Southern delicacy that is the banana sandwich.

Overall Key Takeaways

If you like your bananas sweet and not overly soft, the winning method here is for you. If you prefer soft, creamy flesh, try the plastic bag method. Save the cold-storage techniques for bananas that have already ripened to your liking, as you can hold them at that state.