The smell of banana bread baking in the oven has to be one of the best things ever. A good loaf of banana bread should be soft, moist, and delicious. It's one of the simplest sweet bread recipes you can make and hands down the best thing to do with overripe bananas. But if you're making a loaf or two, you might be wondering how to store your banana bread so it stays moist and delicious right down to the last slice.
I often "accidentally" let my bananas turn black so I have an excuse to make banana bread since overripe bananas are soft and sweet. I usually make it at least once a month. It's such a cozy and comforting snack. There are other recipes you can use bananas in, of course, including banana fudge and banana muffins. You can even add bananas to bread and butter pudding and similar baked desserts.
A banana bread recipe isn't just delicious. It's also packed with vitamins and minerals. This fruit boasts plenty of fiber and antioxidants, along with Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium. Bananas are available year-round and are versatile enough to eat as they are or use in any number of fruity recipes. They're also convenient to add to box lunches.
What is Banana Bread?
Banana bread is a recipe based on bananas, and typically includes flour, eggs, brown sugar, butter, and baking soda. I love to add cinnamon and sometimes vanilla extract to mine, as well as a pinch of salt. This really brings out the banana flavor.
Many recipes are super-simple and just call for the dry ingredients to be combined with the wet ingredients. It's delicious when served warm from the oven, but can be stored so it lasts several days. You can eat it as it is, slather it with butter or even use it for bread pudding rather than plain or cinnamon raisin bread.
Let's take a look at the main ingredient: bananas! Bananas (Musa) come from the Musacae family of tropical plants that flower. Bananas grow in bunches at the top of the plant. The most common type found in grocery stores is the Cavendish variety.
Another name for this variety is the dessert banana. As it ripens, the skin softens and brown spots appear. Most people prefer their bananas golden yellow with just a couple of brown spots. This is perhaps the sweet spot between being under-ripe and overripe.
There are other varieties to choose from too. Green bananas, or plantains as they're commonly known, are bigger and starchier than regular bananas, as well as less sweet. They can be baked, fried, or boiled. Red bananas are short and fat and dark red in color. These tend to be creamy and sweet. Lady finger bananas are thinner and a bit shorter than Cavendish bananas and can be enjoyed raw or used to make desserts.
It is believed this fruit originated in Southeast Asia and was first traded commercially by the end of the 1300s. Technical innovations in refrigeration and railroad development led to bananas being the most traded fruit on the planet.
Shortly after America was discovered, bananas from the Canary Islands were introduced to the New World. Today they are grown in 150 countries and more than 100 million tons of bananas are grown every year.
Tips for Buying Bananas for Banana Bread
Choose bananas that are yellow with brown spots. You can use them as they are or let them ripen some more. If you spot some over-ripe bananas (lots of brown spots) on sale, grab them because they're perfect for a banana bread recipe.
If you are buying banana bread from the store, instead of making your own, check there is no mold or discoloration and also check the storage directions and best-by date printed on the packaging.
How to Store Banana Bread
You can either store bread at room temperature or in the freezer, depending on when you plan to use it. Banana bread freezes well if you are considering making a batch of it. If you plan to use it within 4 days, this is the best way to store it:
- Let the banana bread completely cool, as warm bread will release excess moisture which makes it spoil.
- Put a paper towel in an airtight container or plastic bag.
- Put the cooled banana bread loaf on top of the paper towel.
- Now put another paper towel on top of the loaf.
- Seal the container or Ziploc bag tightly.
- Keep it on the countertop or somewhere cool.
The shelf life of banana bread stored in a cool place is about 4 days, similar to many types of regular bread. Refrigeration isn't necessary, although it can extend the shelf life to about a week. If you still have some left after 4 days, you can freeze it. Check for mold growth first and discard the banana bread if you find any.
Another option is to freeze some of the leftover banana bread or the entire loaf. This is a great way to freeze it:
- Let it completely cool on a cooling rack. You will end up with soggy bread if you attempt to freeze warm banana bread.
- Choose whether to freeze the whole loaf or slice it first so you can thaw just what you need.
- Tightly wrap the loaf in plastic wrap a few times to ensure it won't let air in and get freezer burn. If you freeze individual slices, you might want to wrap each one in plastic wrap.
- Now wrap the homemade banana bread in a layer of aluminum foil or put it in a freezer bag or Ziploc bag.
Use the banana bread within 4 months for the best flavor. It will be safe to consume after this but the flavor won't be as good.
To thaw it, let the frozen banana bread sit on the countertop at normal room temperature. A couple of slices will take about half an hour to thaw, while a partial or whole loaf might take a few hours.
How to Tell if Banana Bread has Gone Bad
Spoiled banana bread might have dark spots and other discolorations on it. Because it is a moist loaf of bread, it will eventually start to grow mold, so check the insides after slicing as well as the bread's surface. If the banana bread smells strange or sour, it's probably spoiled and should be thrown out. Better safe than sorry!
The more bananas ripen, the sweeter they become, as the starch turns to sugar. You can use brown bananas or even black ones as long as there's no mold on them. If your bananas aren't quite ripe but you crave banana bread, you can ripen them in the oven. I have done this and it works! Bake them unpeeled in the oven at 300°F for about half an hour, let them cool and then proceed with the recipe. If you still have more than you need, what about making banana pudding as well?
It might be tempting to increase the number of bananas in the batter if you find yourself with a lot of bananas to use up, but this isn't a good idea. First of all, it will make the loaf wet and heavy in the middle which isn't appetizing. Also, the more moisture the loaf contains, the quicker it's going to spoil.
Although it doesn't need to be kept in the fridge, you might want to refrigerate it if the weather is very warm, since this can speed up spoilage. Refrigeration does no harm to the bread and you might even get an extra couple of days this way.
- Although we don't know exactly when or where the first banana bread recipe was created, it's believed that it might have been during the 1700s. The first printed recipe appeared in an American cookbook in the 1930s.
- There are more than 1,000 banana varieties and India is the world's biggest producer of this fruit.
- February 23rd is National Banana Bread Day.
- Banana bread makes a delicious breakfast, snack, or dessert. Freeze individual pieces and they will thaw on the kitchen counter within half an hour, making banana bread a great breakfast or brunch option.
- Always grab over-ripe bananas if you spot some on sale because they are cheap and also perfect for banana bread.
Banana bread is a quick bread to make because it doesn't need to rise like yeast-based loaves. This fast, easy, and delicious recipe is economical to make and, if your household is anything like mine, it will disappear alarmingly fast! Hopefully, the above tips will extend the life of your banana bread.