Bananas are always on my shopping list. They're the perfect self-contained healthy snack, and they're great for slicing over cereal and throwing into smoothies. But even though we try to eat them as quickly as we can, there are always those last few that become spotted, mushy, and totally unappealing. So, what to do with overripe bananas? Don't throw them away -- throw them in the freezer instead! Here's how to freeze and thaw bananas so they're ready to use in any recipe.
4 Ways to Freeze Bananas
Not all recipes are made the same, and neither are the ways you prep bananas for those recipes. Try these recommendations.
1. When to Think Small
If you like to throw bananas in your morning smoothie, or you want to make ice cream, keep the pieces small (unless you have a very powerful blender). Start by peeling the bananas and slicing to the desired size. Place the slices in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet or plate, and freeze for about two hours. Transfer the frozen slices to a resealable plastic bag, label, and date it. You can now grab as many (or as as few) banana slices as you need for your next smoothie.
Top Tip: When you're making this Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie, skip the ice cubes and use frozen banana slices instead.
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2. When Bigger Is Better
If you're working on a baking project where you mash your bananas before using, but you don't want to bother mashing them before you freeze them, you can leave them in larger pieces. Again, start by peeling your bananas, which will make defrosting them a breeze. Cut the bananas in half or large chunks, and throw them in a resealable plastic bag for later use.
These top-rated Mocha Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins are easy to blend together with frozen, defrosted banana chunks.
Room for More:
3. The Whole Banana
Feeling less ambitious? Throw the whole, unpeeled banana directly in the freezer (it comes in its own natural storage container!). Simply defrost on the counter an hour before you want to start baking. The bonus, besides the time saver? Removing the banana from the peel naturally mashes them for your next baking project.
By defrosting whole, unpeeled bananas, which speeds up the mashing process, these Healthy Banana Cookies practically make themselves.
A Whole Bunch More:
4. When Mashing Is a Must
Mashing is a quick and easy way to prep overripe bananas for freezing, especially if you're going to use them in recipes that call for mashed bananas. Simply peel and mash the bananas, then scoop the mash into resealable plastic freezer-safe bags. Squeeze out extra air, lay the bags on their sides, and freeze them flat. Be sure to label the bags with the number of bananas or better yet, the cup measurement.
You'll need 1 ½ cups of mashed bananas for this delectable Banana Cake.
More Mashed Up Masterpieces
Too Green to be Good?
Are you having the opposite problem, and need those bright green, rock hard bananas to ripen ASAP? We've got a few tricks up our sleeve, with three quick tricks to ripen bananas.
Frozen Banana FAQ
Q: When's the right time to freeze my 'nanas?
A: Bananas won't ripen any further once frozen, so it's best to let them over ripen before prepping for the deep freeze. In fact, the riper the banana, the sweeter it will be, as the starches turn to sugar. This will naturally kick up your baked goods and can help lessen the amount of other added sugars and sweeteners you use. Plus, bananas have a lot of moisture, helping you cut down on fats (oil and butter) in your baking.
Q: Will overripe bananas make my recipes look dark?
A: Don't worry -- you won't be able to tell once they are mixed in to your next dessert. Just don't try to use them as decoration for banana puddings or trifle.
Q: How long can I leave bananas in the freezer?
A: Bananas can be frozen for up to six months.
Q: How do I thaw frozen bananas?
A: For banana pieces, simply remove the amount you need and set them out to thaw at room temperature. If they're mashed and stored in a bag, you can run water over the sealed bag to speed up the defrosting. You can also thaw bananas in the microwave. Thawing time depends on the size of your banana pieces.
Still Going Bananas?
- Banana bread is our favorite go-to recipe for over ripe bananas, and for good reason.
- Banana milk Coffee? Banana milk coffee!
- Hungry for more? Explore all of our banana recipes.