We’ve all been there: You purchased a big bunch of bananas only for most of them to go brown before you’ve had the time to eat them. So you should bake with them, right?
Sure, you can always banana bread, Hummingbird Cake, or even ice cream made from ripe bananas. But at what point are bananas too far gone to use? Can a banana simply be too ripe for baking?
If the peels have gone completely black, you might be thinking it’s time to dump them, but bananas are good for much longer than you may think. If you didn’t get a chance to freeze the bananas before they ripened, start preheating the oven, because more likely than not, they are perfectly fine to bake with.
How To Pick The Best Bananas For Baking
When it comes to baking, you want bananas covered all over in brown spots that smell very fragrant. These are signs that the banana is fully ripe, although you can wait longer until the bananas are completely brown or even black on the outside for the most flavor.
If your bananas are perfectly ripe and ready for baking, but you aren’t, freeze them so you’ll always have ripe bananas on hand for baking.
If you have the opposite problem and need to ripen bananas quickly, store them in a warm spot or inside a paper bag; These methods will speed up the ripening process.
Why It’s Best To Bake With Brown Bananas
Ripe bananas are not only softer, and therefore easier to mash and blend into a batter, but they are also sweeter, which is why baking recipes specifically call for ripe bananas in ingredient lists. As the bananas ripen, the fruit converts starches into sugars, which makes them not only sweeter but more flavorful.
If you’ve ever had a slice of banana bread that barely tastes of banana it’s probably because the bananas used weren’t quite ripe enough.
Plus, using brown bananas prevents baked goods from becoming gummy or starchy in texture, which often happens when green or under ripe bananas are used.
Can Bananas Be Too Ripe?
As with most produce, there comes a point of no return. If the bananas have any visible signs of mold, throw them out. If they smell off, that’s another good indicator that they are no longer okay to use.
Rotten bananas will often have a fermented or alcohol-like smell. While it’s okay if the banana peel is dark brown or even black, if the inside is too, then the fruit is beyond ripe and now on its way to rotten.
Another sign that bananas have gone bad is if they start leaking any fluids. When in doubt, just toss the bananas out.
What To Do With Those Brown Bananas
You’ve determined that your brown bananas are still good to use, but you need to get a move on and bake with them soon. So, what should you make?
Banana bread is far from the only thing you can make with ripe bananas. Try our Bananas Foster Coffee Cake with Vanilla-Rum Sauce or an easier version of a classic with our Hummingbird Bundt Cake. Skip desserts altogether and blend them into a smoothie. Just don’t use them for desserts where you want pretty and neat slices of fresh banana, like in a Classic Banana Pudding, because while sweet and delicious, these bananas are not all that pretty to look at.