Sunday Cooking Class: Ripe Bananas

by Dorothy Reinhold on September 19, 2010

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Executive summary

Bananas on left, not ripe enough for bread. Bananas on right, perfect!

If you want to make banana bread or banana cake, banana bars or any other baked banana item, you want ripe bananas.

Really, really ripe bananas. Super duper ripe bananas will deliver the most banana flavor possible, and ensure a very banana-y treat.

They should be so ripe you may have to fight off squadrons of fruit flies. I’m serious.

Sunday Cooking Class: Ripe Bananas

Pinkie promise!

Let’s call them dead black bananas. Ideally, there should be no yellow showing on the skin a’tall. This will take an agreement in your house that no one should throw the bananas out, ever. Make a pinky promise with your spouse/partner and children that they will never, ever throw a black banana out. If you let someone else be the decider on when a banana is dead as a doornail and actually needs to be thrown out, you will likely miss out on the best banana bread of your life. Have I made myself clear? Man up, and be in charge of your own bananas!

In the photo above, the bananas on the left are not ready; they have a couple more days to go. Many people think they are ready, but those people are wrong. The black bananas on the right are ready.

The bananas below are rotting, and you can see spots of fungus or mold or other delightful colonies of non-edibles, and those little things that look like rice grains? Those are maggots growing on them. This bunch of bananas, I give you permission to throw out. 

Sunday Cooking Class: Ripe Bananas

There’s a fungus amongus…and that’s not rice, it’s maggots!

So, what I need you to do is let the bananas get dead black (yes, flies will circle), but make the bread BEFORE the flies lay their eggs and the maggots hatch.

I’m all for being *thisclose* to the earth, but you don’t need that kind of ecosystem in your kitchen.

I would never, ever, not in a million years, use these maggoty bananas, except if I were desperate and then I might scrape off the fungus, rinse off the maggots, peel them and make the best freakin’ banana bread in the universe. No, I would never, ever do that. And I would slap anyone who might imply I would. 

Sunday Cooking Class: Ripe Bananas

Toss bananas in freezer jumble, skin on


All right, so what if the bananas are dead black ready and you don’t have time to make banana bread? Simply put them in the freezer, peel and all. In you go, Mr. Black Banana, to be retrieved a week or two later, when there is time to bake. Simply defost the rock-hard frozen banana and squeeze out the liquidy pulp.

How to measure

When bananas are dead black super duper ripe, you can slit the top and just squirt them out of their skin like toothpaste, into a 1-cup measuring cup. (How’s THAT for an image?) If they are slightly less ripe, peel bananas and put them in a wide, flat bowl. Mash with a potato masher, and scrape the banana mash into the measuring cup to make sure it measures 1 cup. Bananas differ greatly in size, so it is worth measuring the mash to make sure you get the amount right.

Got that? Let’s make banana bread.

Recipe is here. 

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