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Like many fruits, bananas continue to ripen as they age.
The skin on this nutritious fruit grows green initially, but it turns yellow as it begins to ripen. Once a banana has turned brown, you can assume that it is overly ripe — or perhaps that its skin has been damaged or bruised.
As bananas ripen, they produce and release ethylene gas, which causes the yellow pigment in the fruit skin to decay and turn brown (
But nevertheless, a brown banana is not a useless one, and they’re still nutritious too.
This article shares 10 of our favorite suggestions for clever ways you can make use of a brown banana.
Bananas are a very popular smoothie ingredient.
Brown bananas blend up just as well and can be used in just about any smoothie recipe that calls for bananas.
The only changes to your smoothie that you might notice are a slightly darker color and a sweeter flavor, as brown bananas tend to contain more sugar — and therefore taste sweeter — than yellow bananas.
Here are two classic smoothie recipes that would work just fine with brown bananas:
Adding brown bananas to your oatmeal is a simple way to add a touch of sweetness without using added sugars like white or brown table sugar.
Plus, bananas are nutrient-dense and will also add extra fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to your meal (
Bananas are often paired with pancakes. Sometimes they’re simply cut and placed on top, while other times they’re mixed right into the batter.
When it comes to mixing bananas directly into the batter, some people actually swear by using brown or very ripe bananas in order to create the sweetest, fluffiest pancake.
If you’re a banana fan, chances are you already know that brown bananas work best for making banana bread.
It’s certainly one of the most common uses for brown bananas in general. But did you know that brown bananas are actually great for all kinds of baking?
If you’re growing tired of making banana bread with your overripe bananas, try one of these ideas instead next time:
Tea may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of bananas, but banana tea is actually a warm, tasty source of vitamins and minerals like potassium and magnesium (
You can make banana tea with or without the peel, but keep in mind that many of the fruit’s health-promoting antioxidants are found in its peel, so using it in your tea may yield more nutrients (
Learn more about the benefits of banana tea and exactly how to make it here.
When it comes to making frozen banana pops, overripe brown bananas might not actually be the best choice.
Because they tend to turn soft and mushy, a brown banana won’t hold its shape as well as a firm, yellow banana.
Did you know that bananas can actually be cooked on the grill or stovetop, similarly to their fruit relative the plantain? Though plantains can be eaten raw, they’re most often enjoyed cooked.
Brown bananas can also be prepared with a number of traditional cooking methods, including:
Keep in mind, though, that these types of recipes often call for the use of added sugars and therefore may be best enjoyed in moderation as a dessert.
If you’re out of eggs, allergic to them, or following a vegan diet, there are a number of other ingredients you can use in their place: applesauce, ground flax seeds, and — yes — even mashed brown bananas.
Due to their sweetness and binding properties, mashed brown bananas work best as an egg replacement in recipes for baked goods.
For each egg you want to replace in a recipe, mash up 1 small brown banana or 1/2 of a large one.
Learn more about using bananas instead of eggs — and about other egg substitutes — here.
If you’ve got more brown bananas than you care to cook with, there are many other ways to make use of the fruit.
One of the great things about bananas of all color is that you can easily preserve them in the freezer.
If you’ve got brown bananas on your hands but not much time to prepare them, freezing them for later use is a great way to limit food waste and make the most of your fruit.
To learn more about freezing bananas, have a look at this comprehensive guide.
Here are some questions people often ask about brown bananas.
How do you keep bananas from turning brown?
The best way to keep bananas from turning brown is to store them openly so that the gasses they release can escape. When bananas are confined, such as in a bag or a box, they are more likely to brown.
If bananas often turn brown before you get a chance to eat them, consider buying fewer at one time or purchasing fruit that is still bright yellow or slightly green.
Are brown bananas healthier?
You might assume brown bananas are less nutritious than yellow ones, but in actuality, the difference between the two is fairly small. Brown bananas still contain healthy nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants (
However, some nutrients to be aware of in brown bananas are fiber and sugar. As bananas ripen, the fibers begin to degrade and the complex starches transform into simple sugars (
Thus, if you’re worried about your sugar consumption or your blood sugar levels, it may be best to choose yellow, less ripe bananas more often than brown bananas.
Can brown bananas make you sick?
A banana that has turned brown because it is overripe likely won’t make you sick. However, if a banana has begun to grow mold, is releasing liquid, or has an unpleasant smell, it has likely begun to rot and is no longer safe to eat.
Because the nutrition composition of the fruit changes as it ripens, you may notice that you digest one level of banana ripeness better than the other.
In fact, many people say they digest brown bananas more easily than yellow ones, though others — especially those with irritable bowel syndrome or other digestive health conditions — may experience the opposite (5, 6).
When you eat to a plain piece of fruit, a brown banana may not be your first choice.
But in most cases, the overripe fruit is still perfectly safe to eat, and there are many other ways to use brown bananas that you may find delicious and enjoyable.
Next time you have a couple of brown bananas on your hands, try one of the creative suggestions we shared here.
And remember, you can keep your bananas from turning brown by purchasing them when they’re still bright yellow or slightly green, storing them in an open space like on a countertop, and avoiding bruises on the fruit.
Just one thing
Try this today: Have you wondered if there’s actually a difference between regular and organic bananas? Here’s our take on how the two compare in terms of nutrition, health benefits, cost and more.