By Joanne Thomas

Bananas are a fickle fruit. You buy a bunch, wait for them to reach your personal level of green-to-yellow-to-brown-spot perfection. Then, in what seems like a blink of an eye, they've all spoiled, becoming dark, wilted and sad. At this point you can still enjoy their sweet flavor and fiber, potassium, and vitamin C-packed goodness in banana bread, smoothies, pancakes and other concoctions – but if you'd prefer to eat your bananas at their peak ripeness, there are a few handy ways to slow down their spoilage. Know that for every anecdote about various handy "hacks" keeping bananas green for weeks on end, there's another disputing it. Yet, there's nothing to lose in trying the most-recommended storage techniques for yourself. The worst-case scenario is more banana bread.

Fresh sliced bananas on white wooden background closeup, healthy eating
credit: YelenaYemchuk/iStock/GettyImages

Store Bananas at Cool Temperatures – But Not Too Cool

Bananas ripen faster in a warmer environment, so keep them in a cool place to delay spoilage. This does not mean the refrigerator. While some people do recommend putting bananas in the fridge to halt their ripening, bananas are a tropical fruit and temperatures below 58 degrees Fahrenheit damage them, according to Postharvest Physiologist Dr. Jeffrey Brecht. In addition to causing discoloration, too-cold temperatures cause bananas to lose vitamin C and diminish their aroma, which means refrigerated bananas don't taste as good as room temperature ones. So, store bananas at room temperature, but avoid warmer parts of your house such as spots near heating vents or near sunny windows.

Separate the Bunch

Evidence suggests that bananas ripen faster when they're kept in a bunch. When you get your bunch of bananas home, pull them apart and store the fruits individually. Further, if you already have ripe bananas in your fruit bowl, move the ripe bananas away from the less ripe ones. Ripe bananas release an increased amount of ethylene, which speeds up the ripening process of any other fruits around them.

Bag Your Bananas

Dr. Brecht advises that you put your separated bananas inside a loosely sealed plastic bag. This reduces the water loss from the bananas – water loss causes brown spots to form. You can also purchase special, reusable bags designed specifically to keep fruits and vegetables fresh. There is evidence that these products do work as intended. Don't use a brown bag, though, as storage in a brown bag actually speeds up ripening in bananas.

Try Wrapping the Stems

Wrapping the stems of bananas in plastic wrap or aluminum foil is a commonly recommended technique to prevent them from spoiling. The theory is that ethylene gas (which causes rapid ripening) is released through banana stems. Therefore, wrapping them stops the gas from escaping. If you want to try this technique, separate the bunch and wrap the individual stems tightly.

Cherry-Pick Your Bananas

Delaying banana spoilage starts with shopping smartly. As long as your market doesn't bag or wrap the stems of bunches of bananas, you should cherry-pick bananas at different stages of ripeness. If you're shopping for a week and intend to eat around one banana per day, for example, find one or two that are ready to eat, two or three that are still slightly green, and another two or three that are very green. Inspect the bananas and avoid any that are bruised, discolored or have tears in the peel. Remember to keep the already-ripe bananas away from the unripe ones.