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How Long Do Bananas Last?

You’ve bought a bunch of bananas on a sale, and you’re wondering where to put them so that they last the longest. How to store bananas?

Or your bananas tend to brown and spoil within a few days of buying, and you’d like to make sure you’re doing everything right.

If either sounds familiar, this article is for you. In it, we’ll cover:

  • storing bananas at home – if and when you should refrigerate them
  • how long you can keep bananas around before they go bad
  • telling bad bananas from good ones, and if brown skin always means the banana is gone

Interested? Keep reading.

A bunch of ripe bananas
A bunch of ripe bananas

How To Store Bananas?

Store unripe (green) bananas on the kitchen counter or in the pantry. If you need to postpone ripening, wrap the stems with plastic wrap. Once the bananas ripen, transfer them into the fridge.

When you’re in the supermarket, you can often find both green and yellow bananas.

The former aren’t ripe yet and are a great choice if you need bananas that will last a week or even more. The latter are ready for eating right away, so they won’t last nearly as long.

Green bananas
Green bananas

Green ones should sit at room temperature or slightly below. That allows them to ripen slowly. If you leave them at a somewhat lower temperature (e.g., in the pantry), they’ll ripen even slower.

If you need the bananas to last for like two weeks or so, wrap the stems with plastic wrap. The stems release ethylene gas, which is responsible for ripening. By wrapping the ends, you slow down that process, which results in bananas staying greenish for longer.

Refrigerated bananas after five days
Refrigerated bananas after five days

Once your bananas are yellow and ripe, the fridge is the optimal storage spot if you need the fruit to last more than a few days.

If you know you will finish the bunch within two to three days, leavening the bananas in a fruit bowl on the counter is okay.

If you go with the fridge, remember that refrigerated bananas start to go brown or black in a matter of 3 to 5 days, depending on how ripe they were in the first place. Don’t let the color of the peel fool you ([UNL]) – the flesh stays nice and creamy for another 3 to 4 days.

The only issue I have with refrigerating ripe bananas is that it’s difficult to tell the fruit’s quality by looking at the peel.

Sometimes the peel is brown and looks reasonably healthy, but the flesh turns out to have a few brown soft spots already. Unfortunately, you only learn about that after peeling the fruit.

Refrigerated banana's flesh
Refrigerated banana: the flesh is still okay

To speed up ripening your green bananas, put them in a brown bag with an apple or two. The bag will trap the ethylene gas, and the apples will provide extra ethylene, both of which will make your bananas turn yellow faster.

Last but not least, leftovers. If you have kids, you know what I’m talking about.

First, peel the banana if it’s not fully peeled already. Then put it in an airtight container or a freezer bag, and chuck it into the fridge. It will retain decent quality for a few days.

Some places recommend that you wrap the leftover banana (unpeeled) with plastic wrap and refrigerate it. That certainly works, but it also produces more waste than necessary. I always opt for the container.

Leftover banana pieces in an airtight container
Leftover banana pieces in an airtight container

How Long Do Bananas Last?

Unripe bananas ripen for 2 to 5 days on the counter. Once the fruit is ripe, it retains quality for 3 to 4 days at room temperature and 7 to 10 days in the fridge. Leftover banana keeps for about 4 days.

Obviously, the periods above aren’t hard and fast rules, but only estimates.

Sometimes, you’ll buy a bunch of super fresh bananas that will take like a week to ripen. Other times, your ripe bananas will start to brown only after a day or two in a fruit bowl.

It all depends on factors such as:

  • The quality of the fruit. Bananas with bruises won’t last as long as ones without any.
  • Temperature (if bananas sit at room temperature). If it’s a hot summer and you don’t have air conditioning, bananas will ripen and spoil faster than in the winter.
  • How and how long bananas were stored before you bought them. Storage conditions matter from the moment the fruit is harvested. Fortunately, you can usually tell the banana’s quality by its color and the number and size of brown spots.

If your bananas sit in storage for some time already, and you’re not quite sure if they’re okay to eat, the next section is for you.

Old banana
Banana after 4 days on the counter

How To Tell If a Banana Is Bad?

Throw out bananas if they:

  • Didn’t sit in the fridge and are all brown or black. If they’re only getting brownish, you can use them in banana bread, or overnight oats (like I do). Again, brown or black peel is typical after a few days in the fridge.
  • Have lots of brown spots on the inside or have started to rot. You can cut out small discolored areas, but if a third of the flesh is brown, get rid of it.
  • Sit in the fridge for longer than 5 days of peeling them. Leftovers don’t last forever, and it’s safer to discard them after like 4 to 5 days, even if they look okay on the outside.
Banana browning near its end
Banana browning near its end; cut this part off

As you can tell, some of these guidelines aren’t cut and dried but are up to you to interpret.

For example, I don’t mind slightly older bananas with some brown spots (I spit them out), but my wife usually throws such specimens out. It’s a matter of personal preference, and one isn’t necessarily better than the other.

If you’re not comfortable eating that banana that’s on the older side, it’s okay to throw it out.

Making overnight oats with old bananas
Making overnight oats with old bananas

Summary

  • Store unripe bananas at room temperature. To speed up ripening, put them in a brown bag with an apple. To slow down ripening, wrap the stem end with plastic wrap.
  • Ripe bananas last longer if you refrigerate them. Remember that the pell will turn brown after only a few days, but the flesh will stay white much longer. Peel the fruit and see what’s inside.
  • Ripe bananas keep for a few days at room temperature. It’s okay to leave them in a fruit bowl if you know you’re going to eat them in the next few days.