Did you buy too many bananas but just don't feel like making banana bread again? Or perhaps you love smoothies and want to always have blender-ready fruit on hand. Either way, freezing your bananas is the way to go — you just have to make sure you do it properly.
Surprisingly, the National Center for Food Preservation says the absolute best way to freeze a banana is by mashing them. Simply peel the fruit and mash thoroughly, then add 1/2 teaspoon of ascorbic acid (aka vitamin C) per cup of mashed banana. Package the contents in a freezer-friendly container, then seal and freeze. While some experts see this as the gold standard in freezing bananas, not everyone has a container of ascorbic acid powder ($18.99, Amazon) lying around at all times. Luckily, there are a few other methods that work pretty darn well.
Most people prefer to cut ripe or overripe bananas into slices or cubes before freezing them, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. If you pick this method, it's really important that these slices are small ones. After all, anyone who's tried to make a smoothie or "nice cream" with large chunks of banana knows how quickly this can wear out a food processor.
Even if you want to use your frozen bananas for baking, large pieces can take much longer to defrost — delaying those delicious banana muffins! You may be tempted to simply slice up the bananas, put the pieces in a freezer-safe bag or container, and then call it a day. And if you're short on time, this method will work. Just be aware that you may need to pry apart banana pieces that have gotten stuck together while in the freezer.
To avoid this pesky problem, the Pioneer Woman recommends adding an additional step to the process. If you have time to spare, line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and lay your slices in one single layer. Cover the sheet with a plastic wrap and pop it in the freezer for about two hours. Next, peel them off the sheet and then put them in your freezer-safe container or bag. Into the freezer they go!
But what if you're really short on time and can't be bothered to slice up your bananas? Well, you can still freeze whole bananas, with or without the peel. While you'll need to store peeled bananas in a freezer-safe container, the peel works as its own natural "freezer-safe" holder when left on. Talk about easy!
The bad news is, these methods will mean extra work for you later on. You'll probably have to wait much longer for a peeled banana to defrost enough for you to cut or mash it for your smoothie or baked good. And bananas with the peel often require a soak or splash of warm water before you can even think about peeling them, much less slicing them.
At the end of the day, it's up to you to figure out which method of freezing bananas works best for you. Just make sure it's a very a-peel-ing one!
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