My family loves bananas so much you'd think we were part monkey! Luckily, they are packed full of vitamins, minerals and amino acids that keep our bodies fueled and healthy.

You wouldn’t think it would be difficult to tell if a banana is ripe, but did you know that there are actually different stages of banana ripeness?

Stages of ripeness

  • Yellow: For general snacking purposes, choose a banana with a peel that is uniformly yellow. The banana should barely smell sweet, and the fruit should feel soft but not mushy to the touch.
  • Yellow with Brown Flecks: As the banana ripens even more, the starch in it converts to sugar. This gives it a sweeter smell and taste. A banana in this stage will have softer and creamier flesh as well. Try adding it to desserts like banana cream pie.
  • Light Brown: A banana with a light brown peel will be super sweet and slightly mushy to the touch. But this ripeness is perfect for baking (think cakes, muffins, etc.). You can also add it to smoothies or make your own “ice cream” by freezing bananas and then mixing them in a blender until smooth.

How to make your bananas ripen faster

If you want your bananas to reach a particular stage of ripeness faster, store them overnight in a plastic or paper bag alongside an uncut tomato, apple or pear. The fruits will release ethylene gas that helps accelerate the ripening process.

How to slow down ripening

If you want to keep your bananas at a certain ripeness stage for longer, try storing them in the refrigerator. Although it may make the skin darken, it will keep the fruit inside from overripening for several days.