Bananas going bad? You can freeze them. In the peel, already sliced or mashed, however you want.
Freezing bananas is an excellent way to make them last longer, and keeps them good for making lots of things, especially banana bread.
Whether you're going to be on holiday for a week, or you bought a $1 bag of overripe bananas from Safeway, it's the best way to preserve them.
Freezing bananas will also freeze the ripening process, which usually hits the bunch of bananas all at once. It's a great way to prevent food waste, spoilage, and ants invading your kitchen.
They're easy and versatile to freeze, and you don't even have to peel them first... but if you're freezing them with the peel on, you've got to understand the drawbacks that come with that.
Should You Freeze Bananas in the Peel?
It's faster not to have to peel them. But is it worth it?
The problem is that if you freeze bananas in the peel, the peel is going to be next to impossible to remove when you take them out of the freezer. Think of trying to remove a plantain peel, and then notch that up several levels of difficulty.
You would have to wait for them to thaw out a little, or run warm water over them, possibly destroying the bananas' integrity.
There are, of course, pros and cons:
Easier, but problematic to use.
- It's faster
- It's less work
- They're less likely to stick together (or to other things)
- It's impossible to peel them when immediately removed from the freezer
- They take up more space in the fridge
- A frozen peeled banana takes longer to thaw
There's a bit of work up-front, but it'll save you time in the long run.
- They are literally ready-to-go
- Throw them right into your oatmeal as it's cooking, and they'll dissolve into it
- Frozen bananas (with minimal thawing) work great in smoothies
- You have to do the work of peeling up-front
- You can't cram them into the freezer before they're frozen, because they'll mash together and then be difficult to separate once frozen (We will cover "flash freezing" – a strategy to avoid this – later)
Despite the downsides, our recommendation is to always peel and slice your bananas before freezing. It's the most versatile option and gives you the most flexibility.
But, of course, it depends on the use to which you want to put your frozen bananas. There is a scenario in which freezing them in the peel presents few downsides: when you want to bake with them.
However, in this case, it's more efficient (in terms of taking up space in the freezer) if you just peel and mash the bananas before freezing.
How to Properly Freeze Bananas in the Peel
It's pretty simple. Chuck them in the freezer, whole.
But if you just throw twenty unpeeled bananas into a tiny freezer and hope for the best, they'll stick to things. Even if you freeze them inside a plastic bag, they'll stick to each other. So, rather than individually bag each banana, let's introduce the concept of "flash freezing."
I don't know where the name comes from, but "flash freezing" basically means you freeze each item separately and then combine them (once already frozen) to save space.
So freeze your bananas separately. Then put them together in a freezer bag once frozen, and they won't stick.
How to Properly Freeze Bananas Out of the Peel
Peeled bananas freeze similarly to unpeeled ones, except that they're even more prone to sticking together. With unpeeled bananas, flash freezing is a convenience. With peeled, it's a must if you want to avoid them breaking apart.
Our recommendation: Cut them up before freezing
But why not let them break apart a little? Cut them up before freezing, or mash them.
This also gives you a better sense of portion control, because you can take just as many banana slices as you want. If you think, "Oh, I'll just eat one banana"... No. "One banana" isn't a standard measure by any means, and artificial selection means the size of "one banana" just keeps getting bigger.
Tricks to Make Bananas Freeze Better
There are some ways to improve the experience of freezing bananas:
If you have a vacuum-sealer, stick them in a plastic bag and then suck the air out.
This reduces oxygen exposure – and even further reduces the speed of ripening. Furthermore, without oxygen, your bananas won't go brown.
(However, this may not work so well for peeled and/or cut bananas).
If you've peeled them, the other option is to sprinkle some lemon juice over them before freezing. This won't affect the flavor much, but it will help prevent them from browning.
Alternative Ways to Freeze Bananas
However, there are better methods than just peeling your bananas and stuffing them in the freezer. Here are some more space-friendly preparations you can try.
As mentioned, this is our preferred method of banana freezing: slice them first.
An advantage is that sliced bananas aren't rigid, so even if you don't save space, you can maneuver them into tighter spaces.
Additionally, they're easier to split up. While they might stick together in the freezer, you can generally extract only a few slices, and throw them right into your oatmeal (even after it's cooked; the hot oatmeal will warm them in a few minutes).
If you're really ambitious you can even flash freeze every slice, and have a bag of delightful, bite-sized nuggets of banana goodness ready to be scooped out and sprinkled over your oatmeal or into your vegan chocolate pudding or soy yoghurt. You'll just have to wait for them to thaw.
Another option, which works best for already-overripe bananas, is to mash them all up and freeze the mush.
This is the most space-efficient. You can use a plastic bag, or a plastic or glass container (such as a mason jar) to stash them away in the freezer.
However, it gives you the least portion control, because you essentially have to thaw the whole thing. It's not really possible to break up when frozen.
It's not really a good idea (for the bananas' integrity) to constantly thaw and re-freeze them.
How to Properly Thaw Bananas
There are several ways to thaw frozen bananas, depending on how much time you have and how you want to use them:
- Natural: do nothing. Just wait until you can stick a toothpick through them without resistance. Easy, no?
- Microwave: use low power setting or "defrost" mode for 3-4 minutes.
- Bowl of hot water: put them in a plastic bag and submerge the bag in warm or hot (not scalding) water to speed up the process.
How much you need to thaw them depends on how you want to use them.
- For baking: they should be completely thawed. There should be no icy bits left anywhere in the banana (here's where the microwave can be helpful).
- In a smoothie: a bit frozen is fine, even preferable.
- To put in your oatmeal: you don't want them rock-hard, but they don't have to be completely thawed, either. The oatmeal will thaw them.
- To make chocolate banana bites: dip them in chocolate when completely frozen, and then allow them to naturally thaw.
How to Make Banana Popsicles
A "banana popsicle" is just a banana with a stick on one end that's frozen. It's easy to make, and yummy. Your kids will love it (and you will too).
- It's healthier than a traditional popsicle, by a long shot
- It won't drip or come apart (as a traditional popsicle will) while it melts
- Because it's real fruit and not pure sugar, it will leave your kids feeling sated instead of on a sugar high
- Freeze your banana popsicles on wax paper, so they don't stick to things as they freeze.
A frozen, chocolate-covered banana is known as a "chocobanana" (I think that comes from Latin America, where they are popular).
How to make Chocobananas:
Freeze several whole, peeled bananas with sticks stuck in one end.
Before you take the bananas out of the freezer, melt a bowl of milk or dark chocolate (dark chocolate is a healthier option).
Immediately when you take them out of the freezer, dip them briefly in the melted chocolate, one at a time. Hold them up for only half a minute or so to give the chocolate time to harden (the frozen banana will harden it quickly).
As it cools, you can coat it with nuts or sprinkles.
Frozen Banana Recipes
I've already given you one recipe for your frozen bananas, which is vegan (as long as you use vegan chocolate). Everything listed below is also vegan, the majority of which are baking recipes.
Did you think that you couldn't bake without eggs? It turns out that bananas work as well as eggs as a binder in most cases.
Here are ten more yummy ways to use your frozen bananas (just remember to fully thaw them before baking with them).
1) Banana almond milk smoothie
You don't have to be a Midwesterner or a momma to have fun with this super easy and super simple recipe. Try substituting other nut milks, like oat or soy.
2) Betty Crocker vegan banana bread
It's Betty Crocker. And it's vegan. Make sure to fully thaw your bananas before baking with them.
3) Whole wheat banana muffins
Vegan, oil-free, and whole-grain. Notch down the fat and notch up the deliciousness.
4) Banana blueberry muffins
Only 9 ingredients. And eggs are not one of them.
5) Nut-free banana "cheesecake"
Using tofu instead of cheese, this banana-based recipe is nut-free and yummy.
6) Banana "ice cream" sandwiches
You don't even have to thaw your bananas for this one.
7) Banana bars
Go bananas about bananas.
8) Banana pancakes
Best when topped with more bananas. Believe it or not (and, of course, real maple syrup).
9) Banana oatmeal raisin cookies
Vegan and gluten-free.
10) Banana almond "nice cream"
It's much healthier than ice cream. And you don't have to thaw the bananas. Ten minutes to make a snake your kids will love enough to put those Oreo's to shame.
Try substituting other nut milks for a different texture (coconut "milk" is the creamiest, but also the fattiest. Oat "milk" may work nicely here, or try soy for a plant-based protein boost).
Do frozen bananas go bad?
We have a whole separate article on how long frozen bananas last, but here's the long and short of it: they last for at least 90 days, or three months.
That's enough time to use them.
Why do I have so many bananas?
By weight, bananas are the most-grown fruit in the world. And there's a reason for this: they transport super well. They can be picked green in Africa and transported to Iceland, and they'll ripen normally.
But sometimes they ripen too fast. Sometimes you don't want to eat bananas for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day.
That's when you freeze them.
But peel them first. If you have time, freeze them individually ("flash freezing") before combining them into one bag to save space. Or cut them into slices. Or mash them. It's best if you do something.
They'll be good for at least three more months after freezing.
Great article, learned a lot.