Don’t Throw That Banana Away! How To Tell If Your Banana Has Gone Bad

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When I was a kid, like most, I despised anything that was “healthy” and “good for me.” I definitely did NOT finish my vegetables at the dinner table. Aside from broccoli, my least favorite healthfood was the banana. I have since then, come to my senses and now I can’t go a day without eating a banana!

how to tell if bananas are bad or ripe

And now that I’m older, it seems that bananas are among the fruits most people favor, and may well be the most commonly eaten fruit in the world.

But the question is, how do you tell if your banana has gone bad or is still perfect to eat?

I used to make fun of my dad for waiting until the banana turned brown before eating it, but looking back, I think he was actually on to something!

So, read on and I will explain how to tell if the banana is bad or still edible!

5 Ways To Tell A Banana Is Perfectly Ripe

There are several ways to tell if your banana is good or it’s just gone bad. But don’t throw it out just yet, Later in this post I’ll tell you how you can still use those bad bananas!

1. A banana with a few brown spots is completely normal

This is what my dad tried telling early 20s Jordan, but she wasn’t having any of it. I’ll go more into this a bit later in the post, but a few brown spots is a normal process of the banana ripening process. So, technically, when you see the brown spots, you can consider the banana officially ripe and ready to eat!

brown spots on bananas

So don’t be afraid of those brown spots, they are a good sign 🙂

I like to think that in a past parallel universe, my kid self is not freaked out by brown spots on bananas

2. When you squeeze it, it will be soft but firm

The next test is the squeeze test. Squeeze the banana gently in your hand. Unripe bananas have a firm feel to them. Perfectly ripe bananas will feel soft and have a slight mush to them. They will not be squishy though.

So, the rule of thumb here is, if it doesn’t have a slight push to it when you squeeze it, give it a day or two and then try.

3. You shouldn’t see any green
Stages of a banana

The color stages of a banana

Green-> Yellow-> Brown -> Black

It’s the opposite of vegetables. Green leafy vegetables are our friend, but a green banana is not ready to eat.

Yellow, with or without brown spots, is the color of a perfectly ripe banana. It shouldn’t have any green on it at all. If there is even a little green left on the banana, then that is a sign that it not as ripe as it should be.

4. The stem snaps off pretty easy

Have you ever tried to peel a banana and it seemed a little difficult, like the stem didn’t snap off immediately? The banana probably wasn’t ripe yet. It probably stilll had some green on it. When a banana is unripe, the stem is more difficult to break.

When a banana becomes too ripe, the stem will normally snap off too easy from merely moving it slightly.

But if the stem on your banana snaps off easily with just a tad of resistance, then you know that your banana is at the peak of ripeness.

5. The banana is easy to peel

If the banana is easy to peel and offers little to no resistance, then it is perfectly ripe and ready to eat. The peel of the banana should just fall off, without you having to go to battle with it.

If you are having a hard time getting the skin off of the banana, then it is just not ripe enough.

Another hint? If it’s harder to peel, it often makes a sound as if you are peeling off a stick er from paper. You don’t want to hear anything when peeling the banana

4 Ways To Tell If Your Banana Has Gone Bad

bad bananas

Here are some sure ways to tell whether your banana has gone bad or not! But like I said above, don’t be so quick to throw it away just yet. Keep reading and I’ll tell you what to do with those overripe bananas!

1. When you squeeze it, it’s squishy

A banana should not be squishy when you do the squeeze test. If it goes far beyon djust being soft and has more of a squishy feel, it’s starting to rot. Ideally though, you shouldd be able to see that happening first, before pressing it to check

2. Your banana is leaking a slimy liquid

If a slime is leaking from the banana, probably not a good idea to eat it. Sometimes it isn’t visible on the outside, but once you peel it and see slime, that’s a good way to tell your banana has gone bad

how to tell if bananas are bad
3. There is a mildewy, moldy scent

Sniff your banana to determine if there is a moldy or fermented smell to it. If this is the case, then it’s a good bet that the banana is rotten inside.

Bananas are not a food you want to grow mold, unlike other fermented foods.

4. Brown spots have fully consumed the banana peel

Brown spots on a banana are one thing. Having the entire banana turn brown of black is completely different. It’s probably not going to hurt you, but the taste will be significantly different.

So eat with caution! If it’s black, I’d just stay away though. Far, far away.

Why Do Bananas Turn Brown?

Bananas are the type of fruit that will keep ripening even after being picked. Chances are, you will find them in the grocery store unripe. They will be yellow with a hint of green.

You might be inclined to think that the first sight of browning on a banana means it’s going bad and you should throw it away! Don’t, as temping as it is! It’s perfectly normal for bananas to turn brown!

The reason bananas turn brown is because they go through an “enzymic browning” process. They produce a plant hormone called ethylene, which causes the green pigments present in unripe bananas to break down and create yellow pigments in their place. This gas further breaks down yellow pigments, but they are not replaced, thus the brown color you see.

What you don’t want to do is wait until the banana is completely brown, yellow, turning black!

Unripe green/yellow bananas are 70 to 80% starch. As it ripens, the starch is converted to sugar.

Have you ever wondered why placing a banana in a brown paper bag makes it turn brown faster? It’s because the ethylene becomes trapped in the bag causing the decay to happen quicker.

Health Benefits of a Brown Spotted Banana

Now let’s talk about some of the health benefits of a fully ripe banana!

  • You can bet that a brown spotted banana will taste much sweeter than an unripe one, due to the starch converting to sugar
  • It is more easily digested, both by your stomach and easier to eat in general
  • Plenty of cancer fighting antioxidants
  • Contains a cell-signaling protein called Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) which regulates immune cells, destroy cancerous tumors and prevents growing cancer cells
  • Bananas happen to be chock full of potassium! It’s the perfect post workout snack and will ease muscle soreness.

Health Benefits of an Unripe Banana

I know, you thought this post was supposed to be talkin about ripe bananas and why you shouldn’t be scared of the brown spots on bananas! But there are actually some health benefits to eating those green/yellow unripe bananas if that’s what you prefer!

  • If you prefer a less sweet taste, you might fancy the starchy taste of an unripe banana
  • Unripe bananas might be better for persons with diabetes. It takes much longer to digest and has a lower glycemic index than a ripe banana
  • You’ll get more gut health benefit. Healthy bacteria exist withing the meat of an unripe banana
  • If you are sensitive to bloating and gas from certain foods, an unripe banana has a less likely chance for these side effects

How To Keep Bananas Fresh Longer

You might buy them while they are still green, hoping that will give you perhaps a week to use them before they start to become brown. Unfortunately, bananas are notorious for ripening fast. Here are some methods to keep your bananas looking and tasting fresh for longer!

1. Hang them, but not near other produce

Here’s something I didn’t know immediately, but bananas do not like to be near other fruits. Particularly fruits that make a lot of ethylene gas while they are ripening. The fruits which are the worst for bananas to be around and will cause them to ripen too early are peaches, apples, avocados, tomatoes, and figs.

Hanging is good for bananas because it keeps them from bruising and makes for less chance that the flesh will be exposed to oxygen, which would only increase the rate of ripening.

2. Use plastic wrap on the stems

If you can purchase bananas in the supermarket with their stems already wrapped in plastic wrap, it would be a good idea to do so. If not, then you can put the plastic wrap on once you get them home.

What happens is that a lot of the ethylene gas that makes bananas ripen faster is released on the top. By wrapping the stems you slow the development of the gas. If you feel like going through the trouble, you can even separate the bananas when you get them home and wrap each stem individually.

peeling banana
3. After they are ripe, put them in the refrigerator

It’s a fact that once bananas begin to ripen, cooler temperatures will successfully slow down the ripening process. Don’t worry if the peel turns brown or black. This is a result of the pigment found in the peel. The fruit within will still be fine.

4. Add citrus to the bananas if they are peeled

Peeled bananas do well if you slice them and place them in lime or lemon juice to keep their freshness. If the banana is whole, just brush it with the juice. What the citrus will do is slow down the process of oxidation. Doing this will also give the sweetness of the banana a nice, tart taste.

Can Overripe Bananas Make Your Sick?

I think the answer to this question depends.

Is the banana just bruised from mishandling or is it turning black and starting to rot?

Last week I was in the grocery store and found some bananas on clearance. There were some black spots ont he stem, but it was still fairly green as if in the ripening stage. These bananas are often mishandled during distribution or travel and are still very good to eat! In fact, I just finished my last one today and I got them a week ago. Great way to save a few dollars too.

Now, I have also let bananas sit for too long and let them go bad. These bananas have all of the signs I’ve mentioned above. Bananas turning black on the inside and out often are the result of a fungal infection. Will it kill you if you eat it? Most likely not, but be prepared for some potential vomiting and diarrhea.

Can A Banana Be Too Old For Banana Bread?

So, what can you do with those overripe bananas that aren’t really suitable for eating anymore? Make banana bread! 

According to the King Arthur Baking blog, black bananas are PERFECT for banana bread. The blacker the banana, the sweeter and ore assertive the taste! So take those bananas that are way to squishy for eating plain and put it in some bread.

banana bread

You might’ve learned way more about bananas than you initially planned too, but I like to be thorough! Bananas are a great fruit for so many reasons and can be enjoyed for many days after buying them. The health benefits will really start to kick in during the ripening process, so don’t be afraid of those brown spots popping up! That’s when it’s perect to eat. And don’t worry if you let it ripen too long Put those overripe bananas in bread! Yum!

Go enjoy those bananas!

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3 Comments

  1. I have loved bananas since I was a kid so it was never too much trouble to get me to eat them. I’ve gotten away from it as an adult. A combination of not thinking about it and not being around many fruit eaters. I appreciate you putting bananas back on my mind. I am craving one now. That being said, I never knew when the optimal time to eat a banana was. I have found this very fascinating and informal. I’m going to let my bananas age just a little longer this next round. And actually start using my banana hanger again. Thank you for sharing and for the ideas.

  2. I grew up in a banana growing area, so there was always a plentiful supply of bananas at our place. One thing many people don’t know, is that a banana plant is a member of the cactus family of plants. Also a banana tree has a water content of between 75 and 85%. 

    So, they are certainly one of natures health foods. 

    I don’t like them squishy, and you are right when they are squishy they are good in banana cakes or banana bread. 

    Often before supermarkets put the bananas on their shelves they are put into a gas room for a couple of hours to help make the ripening process more consistent. 

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