How to Ripen Bananas Using an Oven

In this Mad Genius Tips episode, Justin Chapple shares an easy trick for making unripe bananas banana bread–ready.

Very ripe or overripe bananas are the key to tasty banana bread, like this smashed banana bread recipe from Gilda Bain-Pew or Jamie Bissonnette and Ken Oringer's miso banana bread. However, the bananas you're able to get from the grocery store might not always be at that perfectly ripe, sweet level you need. As Food & Wine's Justin Chapple points out in this 2015 episode of Mad Genius Tips, they're often green and unripe. But that doesn't mean you can't use them—thanks to a quick trick he demonstrates, you can have them ready to go for your bread in minutes.

All you'll need is a baking sheet and an oven. Justin takes the unripe bananas (peels on) and puts them on a baking sheet, and then says to place them in a 350°F oven for 5 to 7 minutes. "What you're looking for," he explains, "is this really dark color and for them to be just soft to the touch." Sure enough, the resulting bananas are transformed. He uses a knife to cut through a banana lengthwise and scoops out some of the flesh, noting how soft and ripe it's become. "It's super sweet and it is packed with banana flavor," he says.

There you have it—banana bread-ready bananas in no time. You don't just have to reserve the trick for making quick bread, either. Ayesha Curry also recommended the oven method for unripe bananas as she made her recipe for banana fritters with rum sauce during a demonstration for the Food & Wine Classic at Home. And it would also come in handy for these chocolate chip and banana muffins and this maple-bourbon banana pudding cake, both of which require overripe banana. So the next time you need ripe bananas for a recipe, skip the extra trip to the store and turn on your oven.

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