Why aren't the bananas I bought ripening?

Monday night (3 days ago), I went to the store to buy some bananas. I like my bananas a tad on the green side. The ones on sale looked too ripe, so I passed on them. However, there were some marked “organic” that looked pretty green. I figured that in a day they would be ready to go.

Last night, I tried to peel one, but that was impossible and the banana inside was as hard as a rock and inedible.

The bananas have been kept in a plastic bag since I bought them so I assumed that they would be getting enough ethylene gas to ripen them. But that isn’t the case.

Were these bananas picked too early? Or are they “magic bananas”?

Are you sure it’s not a plantain?

It’s possible that your organic bananas were not treated with the ripening agent, ethylene.

There’s some controversy over whether it’s allright to gas organic bananas: Dole urges organics board to approve ethylene use. That may be resolved now, but it’s certainly possible that some organic distributos won’t use the gas.
In any event, you can get bananas to ripen by putting them in a closed paper bag with an apple. Apples release ethylene which will ripen your green fruit.

Nope, they’re bananas.

I guess I shouldn’t have eaten my last apple then.

Don’t go around asking women if they would like to see your magic banana. You might get smacked!

Do I have to use a paper bag to get the ripening effect? All I have around are plastic.

I always use apples, but avocados, melons, peaches, pears, and tomatoes also produce ethylene while ripening. Bananas do too, but that gets you into self-referential problems seeing as you have no ripe bananas today.

Plastic’ll work. You just don’t want to leave them in plastic for more than a few days, or the moisture buildup will promote spoilage.

Do they have a slight (or more then slight) greyish tint to them? If they do they’re done ripening. When bananas get chilled they turn grey and ugly and stop ripining. In the produce business this is a real problem. It really sucks when you get a load of bananas and accidentally chill them while they’re still green, once that happens no amount of heat or ethylene will ripen them. But it can be useful for the consumer. When bananas get to the ‘ripeness’ that you prefer, put them in the fridge until they turn grey. At that point, you can take them out and they won’t ripen anymore. They’ll be grey and ugly, but they’ll taste fine.

So bananas, if left untreated, will continue to stay green for quite some time? Does that mean they’ll last longer as well? Have we uncovered a giant conspiracy by banana companies to move more product?

Conspiracies aside, if I could find bananas that didn’t start yellowing until I put them in a bag with an apple, that’d be perfect. I’m one of those weirdos that likes their 'naners on the green side, and pretty much won’t eat a banana if it’s got some spots on it (unless, that is, unless it’s in banana pudding. But only of the homemade variety.).

What’s all this business about ethylene?

I’ve never heard the term - so I pulled up the Wikipedia entry on it and it mentions “Ethylene is used in greenhouses and is sprayed on crops to speed ripening.”, but what’s the time difference? How long would it take for them to ripen on their own, just straight off the tree? And is this something that’s always done to commercial bananas? (I actually know somebody who has banana trees in their yard so I’m especially curious about this)

Ethylene is a natural hormone that many fruits use as a ripening signal. Bananas are notorious because they tend to make a LOT of it. It’s commonly used artificially as well to promote ripening in produce. It’s used to turn green tomatoes red, too, IIRC.

Ethylene is advantageous because it introduces reliability. If you let a bunch of bananas ripen naturally, some will rot and some will still be green and it would be impossible for shippers to manually pick out just the perfectly ripe bananas to put on display. With ethylene, you pick them green and then ripen them just before they get sold so they are all a uniform yellow.

It also introduces a bit of flexibility since you can hold bananas during slow periods and rapidly ripen them if theres a sudden upswing in demand.

I’ve heard (source: Alton Brown) that bananas also need oxygen to ripen, so you shouldn’t try to ripen them in a plastic bag. Use a paper bag.

Bannanas must be picked greeen - they won’t ripen on the herb. I’d wager that your plastic bag is the problem. They’ll ripen on your countertop without a bag, it’ll just take longer than with a bag.

This morning’s report: bananas still not ripe. But I didn’t see the note to get rid of the plastic bag. I don’t have a paper bag in the house. But I suppose I can use a cardboard box to get the same effect.

I grow banana plants in my backyard. The fruit ripens fine on the plant.

They are picked green in Central America so they can make the trip to where ever they are headed before they ripen.

hmmm…can this be? Has Alton betrayed me? The horrors!!! :smiley:

'K, I believe you. Thanks for the info. (Maybe I was mixing it up with avacadoes? Yes, much more likely that I made a mistake than AB.)

I can comfirm he said that avocadoes don’t ripen on the tree. I can’t confirm that he said it about bananas.