Should You Refrigerate Bananas? Here's What You Should Know

We store so many other fruits in the fridge—why not bananas?

Cluster of bananas inside a empty refrigerator.
Photo: Getty Images

Let me tell you a tale as old as time. Looking to stock the house with healthy snacks, you buy a bushel of pale green bananas, thinking they'll ripen by the weekend. But then the weekend rolls around: Between loads of laundry and dish-washing, you're shuttling the kids around to soccer games and ballet practice, and all you remember to grab as you're headed out the door is a pint-sized bag of Cheetos. Now it's the following week and you've got a bushel of slightly overripe bananas growing spotty on your countertop. No problem, you think. You'll just let them get really ripe, then you'll bake a loaf of banana bread. Oh, what dreams! What ambition! Because the next weekend, it all starts over again, and of course your loaf of banana bread never gets baked, and of course the bananas on your countertop have turned brown and downright rotten, seeping strange juices and attracting fruit flies.

Now I know you're thinking: There must be a better way. How can you preserve bananas in their ripe state for just a little bit longer—and keep the fruit flies at bay? We were always taught to keep our bananas out on the countertop, but what if you stored them in the fridge? It can be painful—and sometimes even smelly—to watch our bananas sit out on the countertop, descending into brown, mushy decay. We're here with all the information you need on properly storing bananas—and potentially lengthening that fleeting window of ripeness.

Should You Refrigerate Bananas?

According to the US Department of Agriculture, the desired storage temperature for bananas is 56 to 58 degrees Fahrenheit. That means that bananas are best stored at room temperature—so your countertop really is the right place for them. After all, have you ever seen bananas stored in the fridge at the supermarket? I didn't think so.

Stashing your bananas in the refrigerator can slightly prolong the fruit's life—but there's a caveat. When it comes to refrigerating bananas, timing is everything. Refrigerating bananas will slow or stop the ripening process, preserving the fruit at its current state. This means that you should only refrigerate bananas once they've reached the precise level of ripeness you're looking for. If you're simply looking to enjoy bananas as a snack, you can place the bananas in the fridge when they're perfectly yellow to preserve their shelf life for one to two more days.

There are a few cautionary points to keep in mind when refrigerating your bananas. Bananas are very temperature sensitive, so the cold temperature of the fridge will cause the skin of the bananas to darken after a few days, at which point they should be discarded. According to the US Department of Agriculture, storing bananas at lower than desired temperatures could bring upon "chilling injury," which causes a bitter flavor and discoloration in the fruit.

The ideal place to store bananas is on the countertop, where they can ripen naturally. You can refrigerate bananas once they've achieved your ideal level of ripeness; however, refrigerating bananas too soon or for too long can have detrimental effects on your bunch.

What About Freezing Bananas?

It turns out that the best—and safest—way to preserve the life of your bananas is not in the fridge, but in the freezer. Freezing your bananas completely stops the ripening process, so while you still don't want to stash your bananas in the freezer too early, there is little risk of negatively altering the bananas' structure. Freezing bananas, however, changes their texture, so keep in mind that frozen bananas are best used in recipes that called for mashed bananas—not enjoyed on their own.

You can freeze bananas whole, allowing them to thaw on the kitchen counter for 1 hour before using, or peel them, break them into large pieces, and store in a ziplock bag.

Overripe Bananas? Freeze Them

If you're looking to bake a loaf of banana bread or banana cake, you'll want to use overripe bananas, in which case it's best to leave your bananas out on the counter until they turn brown. But if you don't quite get around to baking that loaf of banana bread this weekend—and those unsightly brown bananas are an eye-sore on your pretty marble kitchen island—we have a quick solution for you. Simply stash the overripe bananas in the freezer to use in smoothies or a future baking project.

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