Bananas, inexpensive and available year round, are versatile fruits that you can toss in a bag or backpack for a nutritious meal or snack or add to a variety of salads, beverages or desserts. Unlike most fruits that are best purchased ripe, you can purchase green, unripe bananas and let them ripen at home until they reach the ideal stage of ripeness. Lime juice is often used to keep bananas and other fruits from turning brown.
Bananas are ready to eat, nutritious and loaded with flavor. However, once a banana is peeled and cut, the fruit is exposed to oxygen. Enzymes in the fruit react and the banana begins to turn brown rapidly. Although browning doesn't affect the nutritional content or flavor of the banana, the appearance makes the fruit seem less palatable. Other fruits such as apples, peaches and pears react the same way.
Applying Lime Juice
Coating the banana lightly with acidic juice slows the chemical reaction and keeps the fruit from turning brown. To apply lime juice, use a clean pastry brush to coat the fruit with juice or dip the slices or chunks in a bowl of juice. Although you can use fresh lime juice, the juice is also available concentrated or frozen. Other acidic juices such as lemon, orange or pineapple juice work just as well.
Bananas are available at various stages of ripeness. A pale yellow banana with green tips is firm and tart. At this stage, bananas are usually either cooked or allowed to ripen further for eating raw. Evenly yellow bananas or yellow bananas with traces of green are ripe and ready to eat, or they can ripen further for a sweeter flavor. Deep yellow bananas with flecks of brown are ripe and fairly soft with a sweet, mellow flavor. Avoid bruised, dark brown or black bananas as the fruit is over-ripe. If bananas ripen before you have time to use them, you can incorporate them into bread or muffins.
Bananas keep at room temperature for several days and they will gradually become darker and sweeter, depending on the temperature. If you want bananas to ripen faster, put them in a brown paper bag for a couple of days. Once the bananas reach the desired stage of ripeness, you can store them in the refrigerator. Although the peel turns dark, the banana inside remains fresh. Whole bananas don't freeze well, but you can use a fork to mash the fruit with a small amount of lime or other citrus juice. Mashed banana retains its quality in the freezer for up to six months.
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