Tasty, nutritious and versatile, bananas taste great in desserts and breakfasts. They can also be used in baking, or just eaten as a snack. The only downside is that they don’t last for so long, and it’s always a sad sight when you go to the fruit bowl and see that your bananas are turning brown. If you just have a few to use up, you’ll find plenty of delicious recipes in our article on what to do with leftover bananas, but if there are more than you can eat, you can always freeze them for later.
In fact, many people claim that bananas taste even better once they’ve been frozen. We take a look at some banana science to find out if frozen bananas really are sweeter, and show you the best ways to freeze your leftover bananas.
Why freeze bananas?
There are purely practical reasons for freezing bananas - maybe you just didn’t get round to eating them all, or maybe there was a great deal at the store so you bought them in bulk - but many people actually prefer the taste of frozen and thawed bananas, which they say have a much sweeter flavour.
If you’ve ever tried a frozen and thawed banana and thought it tasted sweeter, your mind wasn’t playing tricks on you. Bananas contain an enzyme called amylase, which gradually breaks down starch into sugar as it ripens, which is why bananas are sweeter when they’re ripe.
When you freeze the banana, the water inside it forms sharp ice crystals that break down its cell walls, releasing the contents of each cell - including starch and amylase. The amylase is dormant while the banana is frozen, but will reactivate when it thaws, setting to work on all that newly-released starch and turning it into sugar.
How to freeze bananas
Freezing bananas is pretty simple, but there are several ways to do it, and which you use depends on what you want to use them for, and how overripe they are.
If you know exactly what you’re going to use your bananas for, and it requires whole bananas rather than just part of a banana, the easiest way to freeze your bananas is in one whole piece. It is important to peel them first however, as this will be difficult to do once the banana has been frozen, and leaving the peel on may even cause the fruit to go off more quickly. Once you’ve peeled your banana, simply place it in a freezer bag, write the date on the bag and put it in the freezer. Stored in this way, bananas should keep for around 6 months.
If you’re not sure what you want to do with your frozen bananas yet, or if you do have plans, but they only need a small amount of banana, try slicing your bananas before you freeze them. This makes it easy for you to take as little or as much banana as you need, with minimum fuss.
Peel and slice your bananas and arrange them on a baking sheet, then place the baking sheet in the freezer and leave them for about 2 hours, until they’re fully frozen. This step prevents your slices from sticking together inside the freezer bag. When the slices are frozen, you can remove them from the baking sheet and place them into a freezer bag, making sure to write the date on the bag before putting it in the freezer. Bananas stored in this way should also keep for around 6 months.
If your bananas are already starting to go a bit brown and mushy, they should be mashed before freezing. Measure how much banana you have before bagging it up and write this on the freezer bag along with the date, so you know how much you need when you come back to it. As with the other two methods, bananas stored in this way should keep for up to 6 months.
How to use frozen bananas
As we’ve already mentioned, the liquid in a frozen banana forms ice crystals, which break down its cell walls. As well as making the banana sweeter, this also makes it a bit mushy, so it won’t really be suitable for eating as a snack, or sliced and used as a topping for breakfasts and desserts.
Frozen banana is best used as an ingredient in a recipe. Here, its texture doesn’t matter, and luckily there are no shortage of delicious banana recipes to choose from. Frozen bananas can be used to make banana bread, cakes or muffins, as a filling for banoffee pie and other desserts, or made into smoothies, milkshakes and ice creams.
To defrost your frozen bananas, leave them at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or microwave for a few minutes. If you’re using them to make ice cream, smoothies or milkshakes, there is no need to defrost them at all - simply add the frozen bananas to the blender for a cold, creamy consistency.
Recipes with frozen bananas
Make the most of your extra-sweet banana bonanza with these yummy banana recipes.
Simple banana smoothie: this basic smoothie recipe from Inspired Taste is sweet, creamy and packed with vitamins. Enjoy it by itself or use it as a base for your favourite fruity flavours.
Best banana bread: this simple but delicious recipe from Sweet and Savory by Shinee makes the perfect sweet, moist loaf cake. Add chopped nuts or chocolate chips to taste.
Frozen banana yoghurt: this yummy frozen dessert from BBC Good Food makes a great alternative to ice cream using just four ingredients.
Peanut butter and banana brownies: Peanut butter, chocolate and banana are a match made in heaven, and this irresistible recipe from CBC Food brings them all together in a moist and delicious brownie.
Two ingredient banana peanut butter ice cream: this two-ingredient wonder from Two Peas and Their Pod also uses banana and peanut butter - in fact, that’s all it uses. This super easy vegan ice cream really does work. Try it and you’ll see.
Frozen banana lollies: these colourful popsicles from BBC Good Food are the perfect summer treat for kids of all ages.
Peanut butter banana ice cream sandwiches: another vegan ice cream treat, this time from She Likes Food, this fun, summer dessert sandwiches creamy banana ‘ice cream’ between peanut butter flavoured biscuits. Oh, and it’s gluten-free, too.
If you’re wondering what else you can freeze and save for later, our handy guide to freezing vegetables tells you which vegetables you can freeze, and which you can’t.