Americans each consume about 26.6 pounds of bananas a year on average — and collectively discard 5 billion past-their-prime bananas during the same period, statistics show.
Now, experts are sharing how to keep the popular yellow fruit fresher for longer.
“I’ve got four bananas here and I’m trying out four different storage methods,” the product testing TikTok account @tipperk posted in November.
One banana was placed in a bowl on a counter. The tip of a second banana, meanwhile, was covered in plastic. A wet paper towel was wrapped around the stem of a third banana.
The second and third bananas were put in the bowl with the first one. A fourth banana went into a fridge.
And the top banana was … any of the ones placed on the counter.
“The one left on the counter is still in good shape,” the TikToker explained in a follow-up clip. “The second one, with the tip wrapped in plastic wrap, also looks pretty good. The third banana, wrapped in a wet paper towel, has held up just as well as the first two.”
Less a-peel-ing was the fridge-stored banana: “Suprisingly, the banana stored in the fridge developed dark spots and ripened faster,” the TikToker noted.
Real Simple says bananas can last on a countertop from two to six days. To reduce the risk of bananas bruising each other, the outlet recommends hanging them on a hook instead of bunching them in a bowl.
Also, keep them out of sunlight because raising the temperature of the fruit causes it to ripen quicker.
Wrapping banana stems in plastic keeps them fresh and yellow longer, Real Simple advises.
“Wrap a small amount of cling film around the end where they are often joined together,” Gary Ellis, director at CE Safety Limited, a UK-based health and safety organization, told Express in 2022.
“This will keep them fresher for longer as it traps the ethylene gas at the top of the fruit, where it emits from, rather than letting it spread and exposing the other bananas to the gas,” he explained.
Like other fruits, bananas produce a plant hormone known as ethylene, which is a colorless, odorless gas.
Ethylene is key in the ripening process — high levels cause bananas to soften and turn from green to yellow to brown.
That’s why it’s important to store bananas away from other ethylene-releasing fruit, such as apples, pears, and peaches.
Also avoid placing bananas in enclosed spaces — such as in a plastic bag or a refrigerator drawer — because they can trap ethylene and accelerate ripening.
Some claim that wrapping the stem of bananas with a wet paper towel will reduce the amount of ethylene they emit.
As for keeping bananas in a refrigerator, the US Department of Agriculture recommends storing them at 56 to 58 degrees Fahrenheit, which is around room temperature.
Bananas can be refrigerated once they’ve achieved your desired level of ripeness — chilling them too soon can cause discoloration or a bitter flavor, the USDA warns.
“Bananas can be stored on a kitchen counter until they are ripe, and then they can be stored in the refrigerator for at least two days more or until the skin becomes black,” Tamika Sims, senior director of food technology communications at the International Food Information Council, told MarthaStewart.com in 2022.
And if you waited too long to eat your bananas, don’t go bananas.
Use them for banana bread instead.