Why Do Bananas Turn Brown In The Fridge ?

Did you leave your bananas in the fridge, only to find them a couple of days later a brown mess ?

You’re not the only one, since this seems to happen pretty much every time we expose bananas to the cold.

But why is it ? And is there anything you can do about it ?

 

banana brown fridgeSo why do bananas turn brown in the fridge ?

When it comes to refrigeration, bananas get a type of frostbite. To be more specific, the banana peels get this, not the flesh.

This is due to two factors:

  • Bananas’s natural growth hormone, ethylene
  • And banana peels’ weak cell structure

You see, their peels are very sensitive, and if you’ve ever doodled on a banana with a toothpick you know this.

This is because the way a banana’s outer skin is made is kind of flimsy.  The cell membranes are very weak, and once the banana is ripe (or gets closer to ripening) any bruise or cut will darken a lot.

Why ? Bananas are a type of fruit that produce a whole lot of ethylene, more than others.

When the cell membranes break down, ethylene will make them break down even faster, turning them a darker color and eventually black.

This means that any bruise will make that specific area of the banana ripen too fast.

So when you stick a ripe banana in the fridge, the cells in the peels will start to break down. Not ripen, but just break down their structure because they can’t handle the cold.

banana peel brown (1)

You can still eat the banana flesh

If you remove the peels, the flesh should be still good.

As long as you didn’t leave the bananas in the fridge for more than a week, and they weren’t over-ripe, they should still be good.

But if you find the flesh turned brown as well, you’re better off discarding that as well.

There’s no way to reverse the process

Unfortunately there’s not way of making bananas return tot heir normal yellow color once the cells in the banana peels have started to break down.

And if you’re wondering of storing ripe, peeled bananas in the fridge, I don’t recommend it.

As flimsy and weak as the outer skin may be, it will protect the bananas much better than anything else.

A peeled banana in the fridge would turn black even faster, due to ethylene and oxidation.

Bananas are very sensitive, and bruise easily

As we’ve just seen, bananas are super sensitive. This means that when you get your bananas home you should be careful where and how you set them down.

If you bought a big hand with 7-8 fingers then know that the ones on the bottom will get the most bruises. All the wight rests on them, and if you hit them on a corner, you’ll notice that spot getting dark and eventually soft.

banana peel brown

Take a look at the banana peel next time you have one. Cut a cross section of the peel and look at it. You should see a whole lot of tube-like formations going down the length of the peel.

Those tubes are very soft, jelly-like. They’re easy to bruise, and really the main reason bananas darken their color.

Bananas produce a lot of ethylene

Another reason bananas darken when in the fridge is because of their growth hormone. Once the bananas are in the cold their growth process slows down dramatically.

However, the hormone is still present in the fruit, even if it’s not being continuously produced.

And as the cells break down, the hormone still acts upon them, making the whole process happen faster.

Bananas are shipped out green

The upside to this is that the process can be used to our advantage. In fact, it actually is being used.

You see, when bananas are harvested, they need to travel long distances to get to your local supermarket.

Even with all the speedy delivery systems, there’s still long haul trucks and freighters used to carry them across half the globe.

So, the bananas are picked green and ripened on the way to the supermarket.

This is done by exposing them to an amount of artificial ethylene right before they’re introduced to the produce section.

The bananas themselves do produce some ethylene on their own, but much less when they’re green, definitely needing a boost when they’re ready to sell.

banana peel brown (2)

This is why when you go and buy bananas, you’ll see they’re got a green hue. They were completely green, and you can totally bring them home and give them a couple more days.

Just know that bananas next to other bananas ripen way faster, so either eat them quick or separate them.

Final thoughts

Ethylene and ripening can be used to our advantage. Probably the best combination is bananas and avocados, for this purpose.

Get yourself a bunch of avocados, and ripen them next to bananas. The process will go much quicker.

And if you do store bananas in the fridge, don’t mind the peel too much. After all, it’s the inside we’re so fond of anyway.

If you’ve got any food curiosities be sure to check the related articles below, we’re always adding more food facts to make your life that much easier.