Bananas are a nutritious food choice and are versatile in creating some delicious snacks, but they have a very narrow window of ripeness. That's why freezing bananas for snacks is a great idea. If you're wondering, "What's the best way to freeze bananas?" here are a few tips.
Read more: How Healthy Is a Strawberry Banana Smoothie?
Bananas: Green to Ripe
As the Harvard School of Public Health explains, bananas are a great source of such nutrients as vitamin B6, fiber, potassium, magnesium, vitamin C and manganese, and people who include them in their diets may enjoy such benefits as improved cardiovascular health, digestive health and weight control.
But if bananas have a drawback, it's their narrow window of ripeness. Before bananas are ripe, they have a thick green skin that's difficult to peel. Soon enough, however, bananas turn yellow and their skin is thinner and more flexible. As they get riper, they develop brown spots until the entire skin is a brownish-black color.
Unripe bananas should be stored at room temperature because the cold temperature in the refrigerator will stop them from fully ripening. (You can even speed up the ripening by storing them in a brown paper bag with ripe fruit, which will release ethylene gas and quicken the process.)
But once bananas are ripe, you might be inclined to preserve them as best you can. A completely ripened banana (or bunch of bananas) can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week. The peel might get darker, but the flavor will remain the same.
Read more: 16 Surprising Facts About Bananas
Freezing Bananas for Snacks
If you have more bananas than you can consume within the week they will last in the refrigerator, you can always try freezing your bananas for snacks. Frozen bananas are great for making smoothies, banana bread, banana muffins and imitation ice cream.
So, what's the best way to freeze bananas?
- Just pop them in the freezer: The easiest way to freeze bananas is to leave the peel on and just put them in the freezer. Kaiser Permanente explains that if you do it this way, all you have to do is let the banana thaw slightly so you can easily remove the peel. Then you can toss them in the blender while they're still frozen or wait until they've thawed completely to mash them up for use in baked goods. If you don't mind a few extra steps, you can peel them first and wrap them individually in plastic wrap before freezing them.
- Prep them first for easy use: You can prep the bananas before freezing them by either mashing them or slicing them. Iowa State University recommends peeling the bananas, slicing them, and arranging the slices on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Slide the baking sheet into the freezer and let the bananas sit until they're solid; then put them into a zip-close freezer bag and return to the freezer. The National Center for Home Preservation lists instructions to peel the banana, mash it, and add a half-teaspoon of ascorbic acid per cup of mashed banana before putting it in a moisture-resistant container and freezing it.
- Store them properly: Per the advice of the University of Florida, don't freeze more than 3 pounds of bananas (or any fruit for that matter) per cubic foot of freezer space, as it will take too long for this amount of food to freeze. Frozen bananas and other fruit will maintain their quality at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below for up to a year. Fruit that's stored for longer than a year won't go bad, but its quality will not be as great. Store the fruit with a date marked on its freezer bag or plastic container so that you don't lose track.
- Make good use of them: Frozen bananas make a great addition to smoothies. You can also allow them to thaw, then mash them (if they're not previously mashed) and add them to recipes for quick breads and muffins. Iowa State University recommends letting one ripe banana substitute one egg in baking recipes — just make sure it's a baked good that will taste good with a bit of a banana flavor to it.
Don't let your overripe bananas go to waste, and don't spend too much time worrying, "What's the best way to freeze bananas?" Now you know, and now you have some great ideas for improving your snacking game with some healthy frozen fruit.