Do Bananas Go Bad? How Long Do Bananas Last?

Bananas are a good source of potassium and they make a healthy snack in a pinch.  However, they’re also fruit, so naturally, they don’t last very long.  There are ways to make them last, and even if they aren’t edible, they can still be used for cooking.

Quick Answer

How long a banana lasts depends on how ripe it was when you bought it or if it’s been dried.  Unripe bananas, the fully green ones, can last anywhere from two to five days until they’re ripe.  Once they turn yellow and become ripe, they last another two to three days in the pantry or five to seven days in the refrigerator.  If you cut them up, a banana can survive for two to three days in the fridge.  Dried bananas will last until the “best by” date printed on the package in the pantry and about two to four months afterward in the fridge.  If stored properly, a banana can last six months at most in the freezer.

Here is a quick guide to getting the most mileage out of your bananas.

Do Bananas Go Bad? How Long Do Bananas Last?

The first thing you want to do when you bring some bananas home is to wait until they get ripe if you haven’t already picked a bunch of ripe ones.  Putting it in the fridge or freezer messes up the ripening process.

How Long Do Bananas Last Outside?

This question depends on how ripe the banana is.  If it’s still green, it can take two to five days to ripen, then two to three days in a pantry or cupboard.  Once peeled, a banana only lasts about two hours before going bad, so it should be eaten right away.

If you want your banana to ripen faster, you can keep it in a paper bag.  Adding an apple to the bag can help, too, since apples give off a kind of gas that speeds up the ripening process.  Make sure to check the progress of the banana so you know when it’s ready.

Dried bananas usually come in packages with a recommended “best by” date on it, however, there are ways to make homemade dried bananas.  Those, if tightly sealed in air-tight containers, can last about a year or so.

How Long Do Bananas Last in the Fridge?

Bananas last longer in the refrigerator than they do in a pantry or cupboard.  This is because the cool air slows down ripening, which isn’t good for unripe bananas but perfect for ripe ones.

A ripe unpeeled banana will last five to seven days in the fridge, while a peeled banana lasts around three days if stored in an air-tight container.  This is because peeling a banana exposes it to oxygen which is part of how it goes bad.

Storing a banana in the refrigerator also has the effect of turning the skin of a banana black, which doesn’t affect the fruit inside.  Any contact with cold items, even in a bag on the way home from the supermarket, can also have this effect.

How Long Do Bananas Last in the Freezer?

If you want to store your bananas for more than a week or so, freezing them is your best shot.  The time a banana can stay in the freezer will vary, but it can still be good up to six months after it’s been frozen.  The problem is that it might be hard to peel the skin when you’re ready to use it.

Peeled or cut bananas will last around two to three months, especially if the temperature is constant and the bananas are stored in air-tight containers

One of the risks of keeping bananas in the freezer, especially if you store them long-term, is getting freezer burn.  This is when the ice inside the freezer changes the banana’s texture and taste and makes it inedible.

Keep in mind that all these dates are just estimations, even the ones printed on packages.  The process of going bad is a slow one, so keep an eye out for any signs of the bananas going bad.

How To Tell If Bananas Have Gone Bad?

Bananas “go bad” through the same ongoing process that makes them ripen, the production of ethylene gas.  Once too much of the gas is produced, the banana starts to turn brown and rot.  Here is what to look for:

Turning Brown: This sign tends to be more of a timing preference.  While brown spots don’t mean that a banana is unsafe, it does mean that the banana is on its way to becoming overripe.  The spots will grow and eventually cover the whole banana.

A squishy feel: As the banana breaks down, the fruit inside becomes all brown and mushy, and maybe even starts to leak.  Check for any signs of liquid on the banana to make sure the skin is dry.

It smells funny: Take a whiff of the banana before you eat it.  Does it smell off?  This could mean the banana’s rotted or even fermented inside.

Fruit flies: A major nuisance that absolutely loves overripe fruit, fruit flies are a good indication that something is off in the fruit basket.

Mold: Mold comes from contaminants in the air and grows on bananas because it likes moist fruit.  Check the banana for any sign of it turning moldy.

How to Store Bananas?

Bananas can last a long time with the proper storage techniques.  These techniques depend on where you’re keeping them.

Before ripening: If you want your bananas to ripen, keep them in a bunch and store them in a paper bag on a shelf.  Make sure it’s a paper bag; plastic has too much moisture in it.  The bananas ripen by releasing and being exposed to the gas ethylene, and being in a paper bag traps the gas.

Pantry: Bananas are best stored in a bowl or on a banana tree, a kind of hook that holds bananas up off the ground.  They release ethylene through their stems, so it’s possible to slow down the ripening process by wrapping the stems up in plastic wrap or aluminum foil.

Refrigerator: Bananas do best in the produce drawer, away from any major temperature changes or light.  I’ve read that wrapping each banana in certain kinds of paper, like butcher’s paper, slows down the process of turning black.

Freezer: Bananas can be stored in freezer-proof containers like resealable plastic bags. Make sure the container is fully sealed and that the excess air is squeezed out, if possible.

Can You Freeze Bananas? How?

Bananas last the longest in the freezer, but some precautions have to be taken to prevent problems like freezer burn.

  • You can “flash freeze” sliced bananas on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper or foil for around two hours, or until they are hard. Then put them in a freezer-friendly resealable bag or container.  This prevents them from sticking to each other or turning brown
  • Opinions vary about whether to leave the skin on when freezing bananas. Some people find it too hard to get the banana out of the skin once it’s out of the freezer, while others find that leaving the peel on keeps the banana fresher
  • Bananas tend to lose their taste and texture if stored in the freezer for a long time. It’s best to thaw them out within three months of putting them in

How to Thaw Bananas?

Once you’re ready to eat them, you can thaw your bananas by putting them in a bowl in the microwave using the defrost setting, or by putting them on the lowest setting for three to four minutes.

If you don’t have a microwave, you can put the bananas in a sealable waterproof bag and set the bag into a bowl of lukewarm or slightly warm water.  The warmer the water is the softer the bananas will be when they come out.  Even without warmer water, you might be surprised to see that the bananas are mushy and have a lot of liquid around them.  This is just an effect of the freezing, and some recipes use the liquid.

Frequently Asked Questions About Banana’s Shelf Life

I’m not finished using this banana.  How do I store a partly-used banana?

This depends on the circumstances.  If you only need to use half for cooking but want to keep the other half, you can cut the banana before you peel it, then put plastic wrap over the cut end and store it in the fridge or freezer.

If you can’t finish eating the banana, you can wrap the whole thing in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge.

How do I make a banana last for traveling?

Bananas are an excellent food for travelers, but keeping them in a lunchbox or paper bag isn’t the best option.  Bananas ripen because they give off a kind of gas, and putting them in a lunchbox or paper bag traps the gas inside.  This is good for short trips, like to school, but not so good for long trips.  You can prevent the banana from giving off the gas by wrapping the stem, which is where the gas comes from, in plastic wrap or foil before putting it into a carrying container like a lunch box.

Wrap Up

Bananas might not last very long, especially fresh ones, but when put in a fridge or freezer they can last a little longer.  Sometimes a little longer is all you need.

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