Can You Quickly Ripen Bananas in the Oven for Last-Minute Banana Bread?

Putting Tips to the Test in The Kitchn

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A bunch of overripe bananas on the counter is the perfect excuse to make a loaf of banana bread — but what do you do if the craving strikes and you don't have any brown, squishy bananas on hand? I spotted a tip that promised to transform bananas from bright yellow and firm to soft, sweet, and banana-bread-ready in less than an hour. Would it work? I had to give the technique a try.

The Original Tip

This tip originally comes from the blog One Good Thing By Jillee:

Gripped by an intense banana bread craving but without any overripe bananas on hand, Jill decided to try baking firm, yellow bananas in a 300°F oven to make them softer and sweeter, so she could use them in a batch of banana bread. After 40 minutes, the bananas were blackened and soft, and she was able to successfully use them to make banana bread.

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The Testing Method

I separated a bunch of ripe bananas that were perfect for eating, but too firm to bake with, and placed them on a parchment-lined baking sheet in a 300°F oven. (The original tip warns that some of the bananas may leak as they bake, which happened to one of my bananas, so lining the baking sheet means easier cleanup.) My bananas were on the small side, so I checked on them after 30 minutes and found that they were blackened and very soft to the touch; larger bananas might need the full 40 minutes called for in the original tip.

After letting them cool, I used the bananas to make a loaf of banana bread. I was able to just peel off the skins and dump the gooey bananas into a bowl, but you could also try cutting off one end and squeezing the banana out, as the original tip suggests.

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The Results

The baked bananas were ready to use in under an hour, easy to mash, sweet, and baked up into a banana bread that was just as moist and tasty as bread made with "naturally" over-ripened bananas. Success!

Verdict: This is a mind-blowing tip.

Final Notes

I am genuinely excited to have this technique in my back pocket, as one of my favorite snacks is a riff on Faith's Four-Ingredient Banana Oat Bars, which uses overripe bananas. I love them so much that I have completely used up my stash of overripe bananas in the freezer, and buying bananas with the intention of letting them get brown and squishy doesn't always work out.

Now I can make the bars or banana bread whenever I want, as long as I factor in some extra time for baking the bananas. (Or if it is more convenient, you can bake the bananas one day and use them the next day — I tried this with one of the baked bananas and it worked fine.)

Have you ever tried this? Do you have any tips for quickly ripening bananas?

(Image credits: Anjali Prasertong)

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