Is the bunch of bananas you just bought from the local market too green for your snacking preference? Or have you been craving banana bread and need overripe bananas to make your favorite recipe? Your overnight solution to ripen bananas could be a paper bag, an oven, an air fryer, or even a microwave. 

You may not have thought about science since your freshman gen-chem seminars, but hear me out. Bananas give off a molecule called ethylene. You can’t see it, but this compound works on processing the sugars within the fruit, allowing the banana to soften and change colors. Most of these hacks involve heat—a common misconception about banana ripening is that sticking them in the freezer will help. Freezing bananas halts the ripening process and makes for a good way to preserve ripe bananas.

With a little time, some warmth, and consolidation, your bananas will soon be suitable for your snacking or baking preference. Check out these six ways to speed up the process to ripen bananas.

1. In A Bunch: Takes 24-48 Hours To Ripen

Abigail Wang

Bananas that grow together, ripen together. If you want more ripened bananas, do not separate all the bananas at once. Only separate the one you want to eat and leave the others intact. You can even bunch up your roommate’s bananas with yours by using some foil.

More consolidation means more ethylene emitted in one area. This ripening process happens slowly but will ensure the sweetest and best bananas. If you want to speed up the process, keep looking, but the sweetest bananas will ripen on their own!

2. In A Warm Place: Takes 24-48 Hours To Ripen

Abigail Wang

Place bananas in warm areas such as near a heater, above your refrigerator, in a sunny spot, or in an oven that’s cooling down. In the latter, make sure to check on them frequently. You’ll want to pull them out when brown spots begin to form. 

3. Paper Bag: Takes 12-24 Hours To Ripen

Abigail Wang

Place bananas in a brown paper bag and make a fold on top. Ethylene will build up and circulate within the bag, speeding up the ripening process. Check at certain intervals in order to take them out at your desired ripeness. This hack makes the magic happen pretty much overnight.

#SpoonTip: Place a ripe fruit such as an apple or tomato in the bag as well. These other fruits also emit ethylene and will enhance ripening.

4. In The Oven: About 15-20 Minutes To Ripen

This method is great to ripen bananas for recipes because heat brings out the fruit’s sugar. Bananas cannot be overly green when using this method. Put unpeeled bananas on a baking sheet and place them in an oven set at 350ºF. Check on them frequently because time will vary, and don’t fret if the bananas leak a bit. You know they’re done when the peels become shiny and black.

#SpoonTip: Use your ripe bananas to make this delightful banana bread

5. In The Microwave: 30 Seconds-2 Minutes To Ripen

Abigail Wang

Need a dorm-friendly, banana ripening trick? You’re in luck! Take a fork or sharp knife and completely poke through the skin of the peel a couple of times on all sides. Place the banana in the microwave for 30 seconds. Let cool slightly and check if desired softness is met. If not, microwave for an additional 30 seconds. Continue this process until desired ripeness is obtained. This hack makes the ripening happen really quickly and works best when you’re in a pinch. (Also, it doesn’t require a paper bag.)

6. In An Air Fryer: 8-10 Minutes To Ripen

Photo by Ian Talmacs via Unsplash

Much like the oven method, the bananas will ripen when exposed to extreme heat. Luckily, a college student (especially in dorms) is much more likely to have access to a small air fryer than an entire oven.

First, line your air fryer with parchment paper or foil, just in case the bananas burst, place them in there at 300ºF and take them out after eight minutes or until the bananas are soft and the peels have darkened. Definitely let them cool, then mash away to make banana bread!