Can you ripen banana in the microwave?

What do you do when you have a bunch of bananas on your hands and you need to ripen some or all of them to bake that banana bread or muffin? 

Well, there are three sure ways you can go about ripening your banana. You can ripen it in the oven, you can use a brown paper bag or you can ripen a banana in the microwave.

Yes, the microwave can be used to ripen bananas.

The brown paper bag method works if you have a day or two to spare before baking that banana masterpiece. 

By ripening the banana in a brown paper bag, the banana maintains its naturally sweet taste. This is because this ripening process uses ethylene gas, which bananas release naturally when they ripen.

Depending on the unripe state of your banana, it can take the paper bag method 1 to 3 days to ripen the banana.

Using the oven to ripen bananas is also about having time on your hands. For best results, you need to allow 30 minutes maximum for the bananas to ripen.

But the microwave is the fastest and easiest way to ripen bananas. The microwave gives you the results you want in just a few minutes.

In this article, you will see how to ripen bananas in the microwave, how long it takes, and how to store ripened bananas.

Can you ripen Banana in the microwave?

Yes, you can ripen bananas in the microwave. And the microwave is the fastest way to ripen bananas.

To ripen bananas in the microwave, start by selecting the number of bananas you want to ripen. I do not recommend you microwave more than two at a time.

The next thing to do is to poke holes through the skin of the peel. You can use a fork or knife to do the poking.  

Do not ignore the ‘poking’ step because it prevents the banana from exploding in the microwave. The holes serve as an escape route for the steam.

Next, wrap the banana in a paper towel. Be sure to use a microwave-safe paper towel.

Pop the bananas in the microwave, and set the temperature to low heat.  Then set the microwave timer for 2 minutes, but check in every 30 seconds.

The low setting of the microwave temperature will not only ripen the banana quickly but also converts some of the starches in the banana to sugar. 

How to ripen banana in the microwave

The microwave is the fastest way to ripen bananas. Banana softens up in the microwave, making it easy to mash through.

However, the microwave does not guarantee the sweetest result. For the sweetest result, use the oven or brown paper bag method. More on this later.

Also, because the color of the banana determines its sweetness, it is best to microwave a banana that is more yellow than green.

Follow these instructions below to ripen banana in the microwave:

  • Use a sharp object (knife, fork, toothpicks) to make holes in the banana through the peel. This is important so that the banana does not burst or explode under the heating of the microwave.
  • Wrap the banana in a paper towel and place it on a microwave-safe plate.
  • Set temperature to low heat. Some people use high heat, but low heat is highly recommended as it quickly and evenly ripens the banana.  Using high temperatures destroys the enzymes and can cause sparks due to the potassium contained in the banana.
  • Once softened, remove from the microwave and allow 1 minute for the bananas to cool before adding it to your recipe.

Microwaving a yellowish banana will turn it brown, and also convert some of the starch to sugar, which will make the banana taste sweet.

However, keep in mind that the microwave does not guarantee the sweetness of the banana. What it guarantees is that the banana will be softer in texture. 

Does microwaving a banana make it sweeter?

No. The microwave does not enhance or impact the flavor of the banana. 

Using a microwave will help soften the banana but it does not make the banana sweeter. 

If you are going for sweetness, the best you can get is using a banana that is somewhat ripe (yellowish) but still firm.

The reason why yellowish banana is recommended is that it turns banana brown in the microwave, and also turns the starch into sugar. 

So you may not get sweeter but you can get sweet enough.

How to ripen banana in the oven:

The oven is another way to ripen bananas. And though it is considered the best method it requires a longer time.

Use the oven if you have some time to spare and you want a softened and overtly sweetened banana.

Steps to ripen banana in the oven:

  • Preheat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit (149 degrees Celsius). Do not exceed this temperature. Low heat allows the sugars to convert fully (which brings out the sweetness). Using a high temperature to roast the banana will not allow that to happen.
  • Place your bananas on a lined baking sheet. Do not overcrowd the baking tray. Leave some room in between each banana.
  • Put bananas in the oven. The estimated baking time is 30 minutes but this may vary depending on the size and prior ripeness of the banana.
  • You will know your banana is ripened when it turns completely black and it is soft to touch.
  • Use an oven mitt and carefully bring out the ripened banana. Let them cool before using them in your recipe.

Paper bag method:

The paper bag method is somewhat similar to the natural ripening of bananas.

When bananas ripen naturally, the peels give off ethylene gas. The more ethylene gas is released into the atmosphere surrounding the banana, the faster it will ripen.

By ripening bananas inside a paper bag, ethylene gas is trapped.

The paper bag also allows enough oxygen in, which is a necessary addition for the ripening process.

Do you want to know a quick trick? 

For faster ripening, add fruits that also release ethylene into the bag. Fruits such as avocados, apples, or pears.

How to store ripened banana

If you have leftover ripened bananas, you can store them away, whether their peeled or unpeeled.

Simply place leftover ripened bananas in an airtight container or you can use a freezer bag. Then place it inside your freezer.

When next you need it, just defrost and use as desired.

Things to remember when ripening bananas in the microwave:

The microwave is the fastest way to ripen bananas. Bananas that are yellowish are ideal for ripening in the microwave because it converts some of the starch into sugar.

Some other things to keep in mind are:

  • Remember to poke holes through the banana peel before nuking in the microwave. The holes prevent the banana from exploding as they serve as an escape for built-in steam.
  • Next, wrap the bananas in a paper towel, this is because ripening bananas can leak. The paper towel helps to absorb any leakage.
  • Set microwave timer to 2 minutes with 30 seconds interval checks.
  • Because the microwave ripens bananas for a short time, starches do not convert fully to sugar, which is where bananas derive their natural sweetness.
  • It is best you use low heat when ripening bananas in the microwave.

Wrapping up:

It is good to know that there are options to choose from when it comes to ripening bananas.

If your priority is the softness, and the texture of the banana then the microwave is a suitable choice.

But, if you are after sweetness that comes from the complete ripening of the bananas, then the oven method or paper bag method will do. Just bear in mind that these methods take a longer time.

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