Bananas are fantastic as smoothie ingredients, in baking, for eating fresh, and in many other situations. The problem is that bananas don’t last all that long. If you’re careful and keep them in the fridge, you might get a week from them, but that’s it (and they might last much less time than this).
So, learning how to freeze bananas is important. This helps your bananas to last much longer and means you always have some on hand when you need them the most.
Freezing bananas can be as simple as throwing bananas in the freezer, whether whole, sliced, or in puree form. The best approach will vary based on how you want to use the bananas later.
After all, frozen fruits and vegetables are never the same as their fresh counterparts (just look at what happens with frozen strawberries and frozen spinach). But, don’t let that stop you. There are still plenty of ways to use frozen bananas, including banana bread, smoothies, and more.
How To Freeze Bananas
There are a few things to talk about when it comes to freezing bananas. The first is the basic process. How do you actually freeze your bananas? Is there any prep work?
Then, we need to look at what you can expect with your bananas, how you use them, and anything else to be aware of.
Let’s begin with sliced bananas. This approach requires the most prep work, but gives you the most versatile ingredient.
To make them, you need to peel your bananas and then slice them to whatever thickness you want. After this, you can lay out these slices on baking paper on a tray and freeze them for an hour or two.
Once the bananas have frozen, you can store them in an airtight plastic bag or container.
Don’t skip this step! If you place the bananas slices in a bag right from the beginning, they’ll clump together as they freeze. You’ll end up with a solid lump of frozen banana slices, which isn’t helpful at all.
Freezing the bananas before bagging them means that you can easily grab just a few slices when you need them.
While thin banana rounds are the most obvious approach, you could slice the bananas in halves or in quarters instead. Just make sure that you freeze the bananas on a tray initially, then move them to an airtight container.
Slicing bananas isn’t essential. You can also freeze whole bananas.
The question here is whether you leave the skin on or not. Leaving the skin on requires the least effort. You just throw the bananas in the freezer and that’s it. No prep. No effort. Putting them in a bag helps, but even this isn’t essential.
The catch is that removing the skin from frozen bananas is very difficult. As such, freezing your bananas with their skin on is best reserved for when you’re going to fully thaw the banana before using it.
Otherwise, you can peel bananas first, then freeze them. As with slices, it’s best to freeze the bananas on a baking sheet, then transfer them to an airtight container once the bananas are frozen.
The final approach is to make banana puree and freeze it. All you’re doing here is peeling bananas, mashing them, and then placing the mash in an appropriate container.
Some people use plastic bags for the puree, especially if they want to use a decent amount. The sections of an ice cube tray work well too. You can take the mash out of the ice cube tray and place it in a bag after the initial freeze.
Freezing banana puree is fantastic if you’re making banana muffins or similar recipes. This way the banana is already in the form you need it. All that’s left is to take it out of the freezer the night before you start baking.
What’s The Best Way To Freeze Bananas?
Sliced frozen bananas are the most versatile approach, as they’re small, so you can use them in recipes that call for a small amount of bananas or a large amount.
Plus, small pieces are often better if you’re blending frozen bananas. Some blenders can handle a whole frozen banana or perhaps a half, but low powered blenders may struggle.
Still… banana slices require the most work. If you’re baking with bananas or have a high powered blender, you might choose to freeze whole bananas instead (with their skins on or off). In the end, the best approach depends will depend on how you plan to use your bananas and the amount of effort you want.
The simplest approach is to take your bananas out of the freezer and allow them to defrost at room temperature for two hours or so. Otherwise, you can place them in the fridge overnight. While the fridge approach takes longer, it can be more helpful, as you don’t need to keep an eye on the time.
It’s also possible to defrost bananas in the microwave. The 50% power setting will do the trick here and you don’t need long. If you’re defrosting a single banana or banana slices, try using 30 second increments. This way you don’t overheat your bananas.
Of course, thawing your bananas isn’t essential. Recipes like ice cream and smoothies actually work better with frozen bananas than fresh ones.
Most fresh produce should be used within six months of freezing, as this is when the quality is best. After this point, frozen bananas will often develop freezer burn and will be mushier when you thaw them.
If possible, it’s best to use your bananas within three months. This will give you the best flavor and texture.
It’s best to focus on fully ripe bananas, preferably ones that have at least a few dark brown spots. These will give you the best results, especially if you plan to use the bananas for baking later.
If your bananas are underripe instead, they may be bitter when frozen, so wait for them to ripen first. Overripe bananas can also work as long as they haven’t become brown and mushy (if they have, it’s best to use the bananas immediately).
Best Uses For Frozen Bananas
Bananas respond well to freezing, but they do end up softer upon thawing (regardless of the technique you use). This texture change means that thawed bananas aren’t great in recipes where consistency matters, like fresh fruit salads. Thankfully, there are still plenty of uses for the bananas.
Bananas are fantastic for smoothies, helping to make your drink smooth and thick. Frozen bananas are even better, as they provide an ice cream like texture, while reducing your need for ice.
Many blenders are even strong enough to handle an entire frozen banana at once. If yours isn’t, try freezing the banana in slices instead.
Have you heard about nice cream before? It’s promoted as a healthy alternative to ice cream – one that’s free from dairy, refined sugar, and additives.
The simplest version of this is just made by blitzing frozen banana pieces in the blender. The flavor and consistency here is surprisingly similar to ice cream (as long as you don’t over blend the bananas.
You don’t need to stop there either. You could also add other ingredients for flavor, like cocoa powder or fresh berries.
Another trick is to chocolate coat your bananas and freeze them.
The most common version involves dipping bananas in melted chocolate, adding sprinkles or other toppings, then freezing long enough for the chocolate to harden. Doing so chills the bananas without fully freezing them.
However, even completely frozen bananas or banana slices are edible. You could even freeze a tray of chocolate covered banana slices, then snack on these any time you want a healthy treat.
Baking is a little different, as you generally can’t use frozen bananas directly. You’ll need to allow enough time to thaw the bananas before including them in your baking.
Still, the approach is well worth it. For one thing, freezing bananas means you always have bananas on hand. That’s much easier than going to the store every time you want to bake.
Thawed bananas are also softer than fresh bananas, which is a useful feature when you’re baking. You may even prefer the final texture here.
Finally, frozen bananas are an excellent substitute for mashed bananas in most recipes, as the texture is similar. Why not try this out with your favorite recipe?
Other Ways To Preserve Bananas
Dehydrated bananas last much longer than fresh bananas and are excellent snacks as well. You can do so with a dehydrator, a solar oven, or even a regular oven.
Most of the time, you’ll be dehydrating thin circular slices of banana. This size dries the best and is also the most useful. However, you can also dehydrate longer slices of banana if you prefer.
Once dried, the bananas tend to be sweet and chewy. They can be included in some recipes and trail mix. You can also rehydrate dried bananas and use them in your baking. The finished product mightn’t taste as good with dried bananas as opposed to thawed bananas, but the approach is still worth trying.
Did you know that green bananas can be pickled? Doing so gives you a surprisingly refreshing side dish, while also helping your bananas to last longer. Using green bananas is essential here, as ripe bananas are too soft and will quickly turn to mush.
If you have overripe bananas instead, then banana jam is the way to go. The jam helps to preserve your bananas, while also providing a delicious condiment.
Banana jam is also easier than many other types of preserves, as there’s much less prep work. That’s great news for many situations.