3 Reasons to Use up Overripe Bananas (and the Easiest Banana Bread Recipe, Too)


Don't let those brown, overripe bananas go to waste. They're healthier and great for baking.

It happens to the best of us. You buy bananas, eat a few, then come back a few days later only to find the rest have become too ripe for your taste? Maybe even covered in brown spots or brown altogether?

Here is an extremely simple and delicious recipe for banana bread, and the darker the bananas you use, the better. My mother made this bread throughout my childhood. I made it in college to impress my roommates with my “culinary skills.” Now I make for my kids often because it takes under 10 minutes to whip up and they love to lick the batter, which is encouraged since it’s also egg-free. It’s made mostly of bananas ­- packing four bananas into one loaf - so it’s super nutritious.

First, here are 3 reasons to love those brown, overripe bananas.

  1. Overripe bananas have more antioxidant.

As bananas ripen, the concentration of antioxidants increases so that ripebananas actually contain a higher level of antioxidants than yellow or unripe ones - which is important since antioxidants help protect our bodies from a wide range of diseases and illnesses. Ripe bananas are also easier to digest than yellow ones so they are better for people with gas, irritable bowel or constipation issues.

  1. Overripe bananas taste better in baked goods.

Brown bananas are preferred by chefs for baking because more of the banana’s starch has transformed into simple sugar. The bananas have more natural sugar and more flavor, so you can cut back on the refined sugar in your baking and still get a sweet result.

  1. Food waste majorly contributes to climate change.

Uneaten food adds up: in Europe an estimated 20% of the total food produced is wasted or thrown away; in the US it’s even higher with an estimated 30% - 40% of food going uneaten. Not only does it takes a lot of energy and resources to grow, pack and and ship food, but when it goes to landfill food does not decompose; instead, it creates methane gas which is a more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

How to store overripe bananas.

So, you’re convinced that overripe bananas are amazing but you’re not ready to use them when they go brown. I get it. Just peel the bananas, place in a container and store in the freezer. Add additional bananas to the container as they ripen. Depending on the container size, I either break them in half or keep whole so that I can easily grab the amount I need for this recipe. Bananas will stay good for 2 to 3 months in the freezer.

Not in the mood to bake? Other uses for overripe banana bread.

There are a lot of other simple uses for overripe bananas. I often blend frozen banana into a simple vegan “ice cream,” add to smoothies, and stir mashed bananas into a bowl of oatmeal or pancake batter for extra sweetness and nutrition.

The recipe. 

To make this simple 5 ingredient banana bread, set aside 10 minutes plus baking time, because that’s all it will take you…

Ingredients:

  • 4 ripe bananas 
  • 1 stick butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 cups whole-wheat or white flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • Optional - 1/2 cup chopped walnuts and/or chopped chocolate (I chop up a bar instead if chocolate chips because it’s available plastic free). You can also add a few tablespoons or flax or hemp seeds for added nutrition. 

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 350F/180C
  • Grease 2 small loaf pans or a muffin tin
  • Cream butter and sugar until smooth
  • Mix in bananas until most chunks are gone, but don’t overmix; bananas can get rubbery if mixed too much
  • Add in flour and baking soda
  • Fold in any optional ingredients
  • Pour into the loaf pans or tin and bake for about 15 minutes or until a knife comes out clean

This recipe works well in two small loaf pans or into muffin tins. While it fits into one larger loaf pan I avoid that because it tends not to cook through in the center given the high density of bananas.

Bon appétit!

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