In most parts of the world bananas are the most popular fruit found in stores. Although they aren't expensive most of the year, the fruits ripen quickly. This means that in some households the brown ones are regularly tossed out.
There is only so much banana bread you can make with ripe bananas, so if you have too many in the kitchen then your best option is to freeze them. We’re about to show you the simple steps involved in freezing bananas so that they aren’t mushy, covered in freezer burn, or stuck together in a frustrating clump when it comes time to use them.
How to freeze sliced bananas
Before starting, get some essential equipment ready on the kitchen bench. You’ll need a knife, durable freezer bags, a pen for labeling, and one or two cookie sheets. The fruit will take 1-2 hours to freeze depending on the quantity and whether you slice them up or freeze them whole.
1. Prep the fruit
Start by choosing only the bananas that look suitable for freezing. If any have passed the overripe stage, then discard them. Peel the fruit and slice off those hard, pesky end pieces because no one enjoys eating those. Chop the fruit crosswise into half-inch pieces and set aside.
If you have bananas at different stages of ripeness you may want to separate them into piles of ripe yellow bananas and browning overripe bananas. When it comes time to bag up the fruit you can label them based on ripeness.
2. Freeze individual slices
It may be tempting to toss the bananas into bags or airtight containers at this stage. But doing this will cause all the banana pieces to stick together in one clump. When it comes time to make a smoothie, you'll have to wait for the fruit to thaw before you can pull them apart or pick away at them until you get enough pieces.
You can make your life much easier by freezing them individually first. To do this, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and then add the banana slices in one layer. Freeze the banana for an hour or until they have hardened.
3. Bag the fruit
Remove the tray from the freezer and place the banana into suitably sized airtight containers or durable freezer bags. When using bags, remove as much air as possible before sealing them shut. Label with the current date and if you separated the bananas by sweetness then this is your chance to write this down now. Next time you go to make a banana cake you can go straight for the bag labeled “overripe bananas”.
How to freeze whole bananas
Freezing whole bananas is a quicker process than with individual pieces because you don't have to pre-freeze them. Peel the bananas and then decide whether you want them frozen whole or in halves. Slice the fruit (if necessary) and then add it to freezer-safe bags or containers that have been labeled with the date. It will take roughly two hours for the bananas to freeze.
Note: Bananas can be frozen with their skin on, but we do not recommend it. They will use up more space in your freezer and when it comes time to use them, extra thawing time will be needed before the skin can be removed.
How to thaw frozen bananas
Remove a bag of frozen banana from the freezer and take out how much you require for the recipe. Return any leftover banana to the freezer, ensuring the bag is sealed. Place the banana you intend using in a bowl and allow it to sit at room temperature for two hours until softened. You can also place frozen bananas in the fridge overnight and they will be ready to go the next day.
Defrosted bananas release a liquid that doesn't look very appealing, but you shouldn't tip it out. For best results, use a fork to mix everything up before using it in food or beverages.
How long do bananas last in the freezer?
When stored correctly, bananas can be kept in the freezer for up to six months before they start to lose their quality. For best results, position your fruit at the back of the freezer to reduce fluctuations in temperature.
Can I freeze mashed banana?
Mashing banana before freezing is a great option for creating portion-control cubes that can be added to smoothies or banana bread. Mash the banana until smooth and then spoon it into an ice cube tray before freezing for 2 hours. Once the banana is frozen, pop the blocks into a zip-lock freezer bag, ensuring all the air has been removed before returning them to freezer.
5 uses for frozen bananas
- Add them frozen to a blender to make a healthy version of ice cream.
- Use frozen whole or sliced bananas, blended with milk, yogurt, and other fruit to make a delicious smoothie.
- Allow the banana to soften a little before slicing and adding to muffins, pancakes or cakes.
- Add frozen pieces of banana to oatmeal as it cooks on the stovetop or in the microwave.
Related reading: What are some handy uses for leftover oatmeal?
Should I freeze overripe bananas?
Overripe bananas are an excellent option for freezing; a much better alternative than tossing them out. Bananas that have gone soft and brown are excellent for use in banana bread, so we recommend mashing them before freezing. When baking day comes around you've already completed one of the steps to make the bread.
Tips for freezing bananas
- Before freezing the banana add a splash of lemon juice to keep the fruit looking fresher.
- Never store bananas is the freezer door as the fruit gets exposed to too much temperature variation.
- Mash 3 bananas with ¾ cup of brown sugar and freeze so that making banana cake and bread is made easier.
- Mash banana with other excess fruit like blueberries or mangoes and freeze to make the morning task of smoothie making quicker.
Bananas are affordable, versatile fruits that are packed with potassium, vitamins, and are low in sodium. The biggest challenge with this variety of fruit is that they go off quickly, especially in the warmer months. Once you've run out of ideas for using up leftover bananas, your best option is to freeze them. When stored correctly in an airtight bag free from moisture and air, bananas will last six months before starting to lose quality. In some cases, bananas have been known to last a year before they start to degrade.
Remember that an important part of freezing bananas is to label the bag or container with the current date. It is an easy step to skip when you're in a hurry but it can cause a lot of confusion several months later. Keeping track of life can be hard, so how can you be expected to remember whether it was 6 or 12 months ago that you froze the bananas? Get organized in the kitchen and you will find your cooking runs smoothly.
What is your favorite fruit or vegetable for freezing? Please let us know in the comments below.