ChatterTip of the Month October 2009

Ripening Fruit – Especially Bananas

Photo by Alfredo Gugig

Seeing as this month’s ChatterRecipe calls for “ripe” bananas, let’s talk about ripening fruit. Bananas generally stay fresher for longer when keep separately, but if you want to ripen them quicker (or any fruit for that matter) – place them in the fruit bowl amongst the other fruit (in particular apples). Alternatively, you can also ripen bananas by placing them in a closed paper bag. Add an apple to the bag and the fruit will ripen even faster. Apples give off ethylene gas, which causes fruit to ripen. Again, this works with many fruit such as pears, mangoes and even avocados. Placing a toy gorilla next to the bananas does not affect the ripening process.

Nowadays, there is a tendency to return from the supermarket and just put everything in the refrigerator. However, many fruits are better and should not be refrigerated. For instance, tomatoes (yes, technically the tomato is a fruit) should never be refrigerated. My mother would always have a bowl of fresh tomatoes on the kitchen counter at varying stages of “ripeness.” If you compare the taste of a “fresh” tomato to a “refrigerated” one, the difference is evident. There are mixed opinions as to whether or not you should refrigerate bananas, but if you do, they suggest you wrap them individually in plastic wrap and keep them in the vegetable drawer or at the bottom of the refrigerator and ensure they are not stored with other fruits.

Another way to store bananas if you can’t eat them as fast as they ripen is to peel them when they are still fresh and store them in plastic bags or containers in the freezer, either whole, in pieces or mashed. That way they can be added to smoothies or used for baking any time. If you cut bananas to use fresh, squeeze some lemon juice over them to prevent them from turning brown. When I was a kid, one of my favorite sandwiches was made with mashed banana, a dash of lemon juice and a touch of sugar. And while living in Paris, my staple sandwich was comprised of peanut butter, sliced banana, a drizzle of honey with a sprinkle of ground cinnamon. Yum.

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