Bananas spoil quickly, especially if they are purchased ripe. This fruit provides such a limited time frame for consumption that small families may often face brown mushy bananas before they have had time to eat the whole bunch. Some measures can be taken to slow the ripening of bananas and keep the fruit fresh for the longest possible time frame. If all else fails, remember that overripe bananas are ideal for use in recipes such as puddings and breads.
Purchase bananas when they are still green for the longest shelf life. When harvesting your own bananas, remove the bunches from the tree while they are still firm and green. Bananas ripen best off the tree.
Store bananas at room temperature until they are ripe. A spot on the counter away from direct heat and light is best. Designate a fruit bowl or banana rack for just this use. Do not store in a sealed bag or container, as this causes the bananas to ripen faster. Keep bananas away from apples and tomatoes which produce a gas that also speeds ripening.
Watch the bananas for ripeness. Peak ripeness has been achieved when the peel of the banana is bright yellow and relatively free of spots or blemishes. The stem should be flexible but not soft or mushy.
Place bananas in the refrigerator once they have achieved ripeness. This will slow the ripening process and preserve the fruit's freshness. Though the peel will quickly become discolored, the fruit inside will stay at peak ripeness. Do not place unripe bananas in the refrigerator as they will never fully ripen.