I love bananas, for the simple reason that as soon as they start going bad you can put them in the freezer and then forget about them until you want to make banana bread or smoothies or any number of things.
They are good fresh or frozen and can be used in so many different recipes.
Bananas are the most popular fruit in America, they are actually categorized as a berry, the are packed full of potassium; bananas are amazing.
The biggest question though, once you’ve tossed them in the freezer, is how long can you freeze bananas?
Handy Supplies When Freezing or Thawing Bananas
How long will bananas last in the freezer?
The short answer is indefinitely. As long as they are stored properly. If you want to maintain the best quality and taste, 2 to 3 months is best. Obviously your freezer will need to maintain the proper temperature over the entire time but given that they will truly last indefinitely, but please don’t do this. Stick to the 2 to 3 month window for best results.
The key to keeping your bananas “fresh” even when they’re frozen is knowing how to store and prepare them properly.
Best way to prepare and freeze bananas
When freezing food items, the goal is to avoid freezer burn. By doing this, your food has a much better chance of maintaining its flavor and quality. You can freeze bananas with the peel on, and even though that helps add an extra layer of protection against freezer burn I would not suggest this route. Have you ever tried to peel a frozen banana? Let me save you the hassle; it is not easy.
- Cut up those bananas. Believe me, it is so much easier to allow the bananas to thaw and handle when they are cut into one to two inch pieces. It’s also nice if you don’t want to use an entire banana but only need a few chunks.
- Place the banana pieces onto a parchment lined baking tray and place in the freezer. Allow the bananas to freeze for about an hour. By doing this step you prevent bananas from sticking together in the freezer bag. If they are slightly frozen, they will not stick and it will be easier to remove them when you need to use them. Just don’t forget they are in the freezer and leave them on the tray!
- Next, put your bananas into a freezer bag making sure all the air is squeezed out. Using a freezer bag is the key. Don’t use a container. Even if it seals well outside of the freezer, it won’t in the cold temps of your freezer, it’s impossible to squeeze out the excess air and you will most likely get freezer burn. Granted, there are containers made specifically for freezer use, but I still prefer using a sealable bag.
- Label the bag with a marker, toss them in the freezer and forget about them, until you want to make that banana bread!
Thawing Frozen Bananas
- Unpeeled – Even though I don’t recommend freezing unpeeled bananas, you may prefer that route. If this is the case, remove bananas from the freezer and allow them to sit on the counter five to ten minutes. Then, use a pairing knife to remove the peel. Once the bananas are peeled, put them into a sealable bag and submerge them in water. You can also let them thaw in the fridge but anticipate this taking about a day. The third way to thaw peeled bananas is in the microwave. I wouldn’t suggest this method, but it’s a quick option if you can’t wait to make that banana bread! Just keep an eye on them because the microwave can overdo it very quickly.
- Peeled – Thawing peeled bananas is a very easy job. Follow the same directions as unpeeled except for the the first step of removing the peel. Simply put them in a bag, submerge in water and pretty soon your bananas will be thawed and ready to use.
Bananas, like apples, peaches, pears and a variety of other fruits, produce ethylene gas which causes other fruits to ripen more quickly. Fresh bananas should be stored on the counter but away from other fruits unless you need them to ripen. Often times I will place my unripe avocados by my bananas to encourage the ripening process. If you’ve peeled a banana and eaten half of it, make sure to put it in the fridge. It’s not advised to leave the half-peeled banana out unless you want to attract fruit flies.
Once a banana has ripened it will last about 5 to 7 days in the fridge. By putting them in the fridge, you can anticipate the peel turning brown, but this is not an indicator that the banana has gone bad.
How can you tell if they’ve gone bad?
The three tell tale signs that a banana has gone bad is the presence of mold, there is liquid or it is brown and mushy. Mold is a pretty obvious sign, but if you’re unsure what mold looks like on bananas you can do a quick internet search for reference. If you see it on the peel, toss it. The next thing to check is if there is any liquid coming from the banana, and if there is it’s gone bad. The third way is to simply peel the banana. If the flesh is brown and really mushy, it’s done. A banana will also emit a fermented or ammonia-like smell when it’s gone bad.
Organic vs. Conventional Bananas
For many the question when buying fruits and vegetables is do I buy organic or conventional. Personally, I always reference the dirty dozen list. Bananas are not on the dirty dozen list due to the thick peel they have that protects the fruit from the majority of the pesticides and insecticides used. Granted, this doesn’t mean there isn’t a small chemical presence from the sprays used on the soil. At the end of the day, it’s up to you, your budget and values, but if you’re moving towards buying organic start with the dirty dozen and go from there.
Things to do with frozen bananas
Have a freezer full of bananas and need some ideas of what to do with them? Here are my top three suggestions!
Here’s a fun fact for you. The most searched recipe during this time of quarantine has been banana bread! Banana bread is a delicious staple, really hard to mess up and perfect for those frozen bananas. This recipe from Food.com is a winner and for a gluten free option this is a great recipe for the gluten-intolerant from the Minimalist Baker.
Frozen bananas make the perfect addition to smoothies. They create that thick and creamy consistency without having ice chunks, and they add flavor as well.
Have you ever heard of “nice cream”? The idea is you use frozen bananas, a little milk and sweetener or other add-in’s of your choice, you blend them all up and you have a healthier version of ice cream with a similar consistency and great flavor. You can check out several variations and recipes all in one place from Chocolate Covered Katie.
I wanted to make sure I covered all the bases when it comes to frozen bananas, so here is a list of FAQ’s hopefully answering any other banana questions you may still have.
Can frozen bananas make you sick?
- As long as you are following the guidelines of proper freezer storage for your bananas, they will not make you sick. The color and consistency will definitely be different, but there is nothing menacing about them. If a frozen banana makes you sick, it means it was bad when you originally froze it.
Will frozen bananas turn brown?
- Yes, most of the time. The reason frozen bananas typically turn brown is due to the way they’ve been stored. If they’ve been exposed to an abundance of air, this can cause them to turn brown. If you’ve cut them up and put them in a vacuum sealed bag, you shouldn’t experience browning. Regardless, they will still be good even if they’ve browned.
Do frozen bananas smell like alcohol?
- A common commentary is that sometimes when bananas start to over-ripen they begin to smell like alcohol or even nail polish. If they begin to smell like this, they have begun to ferment. While they most likely will not make you sick, they will not taste great and will probably be very mushy or even slimy. If they’ve reached this stage, toss them.
Can you refreeze bananas?
- Yes! You can definitely refreeze bananas.
Can I freeze green bananas?
- You can freeze green bananas, just remember it stops the ripening process, so when you thaw them they will not have a lot of flavor. My suggestion would be to allow the banana to ripen on the counter and then freeze.