Biting into a banana and finding a mushy brown patch is an unpleasant moment for everyone, and it happens frustratingly often. If this has been your experience recently, you might be wondering, why is my banana brown inside?
A banana often turns brown or black inside but not outside when it has been chilled too much during storage. Sometimes, bananas will also turn brown on the inside when they have been dropped or bruised, even if the outer flesh still looks fine and remains yellow.
It’s very annoying to find your banana is brown inside when you were expecting fresh, firm, yellow fruit, so let’s explore why this happens.
Why Might My Banana Have Been Cold Damaged?
Because bananas do not keep very well, they are often picked while they are still green and then kept in cold storage while they are being shipped to their destination. Bananas ripen and go off very quickly, so it’s important to use chilling to slow down the ripening process if they are not to get wasted in transit.
That means bananas tend to be placed in chillers in between being picked and being put out in the store, and if a banana gets too cold at this point, the walls of its internal cells will start to break down.
When this happens, they will start to release compounds that were previously trapped by the walls, and these compounds will react with each other, causing the flesh of the banana to turn brown. As this process continues, the flesh will usually become black, and then it will start to become slimy.
This usually happens on the inside of the banana, rather than the outside, and is the main reason that you can peel a banana and discover that it has gone brown in the center, even while the exterior looks perfect. A banana that is stored below 32 degrees F will usually show signs of cold damage.
Is My Banana Just Bruised?
Sometimes, the inside of a banana can be damaged by a drop or a bump, without the outside showing any signs of this damage. This is more unusual, but it does happen occasionally. The jolt of being dropped can cause bruising in the center, despite the fact that the outside doesn’t get notably damaged.
This is more likely to happen when the banana is ripe, as the center will be soft and more vulnerable to damage. An unripe banana is firmer and less likely to be harmed by a sudden jolt.
Rough handling, while the banana is being shipped, can therefore cause internal damage, and while companies that supply bananas are working hard to reduce the risk of the fruits getting damaged while being transported, it does still happen. Shipping is a long process and there is a lot of scope for error during transportation, packing, and handling.
Does Browning Cause More Browning?
A banana that has already begun to turn brown will often continue turning brown more quickly than an undamaged banana. That’s because the ripe or overripe parts of the fruit will release ethylene gas, which promotes ripening, which will cause other parts of the banana to ripen and become overripe more quickly.
The gas is produced much faster in damaged parts of the fruit and will cause the undamaged parts to break down – which will speed up the ripening process even further. You may have noticed that a banana that is starting to go bad seems to finish the process extremely quickly.
A brown banana should be used up before yellow ones, although you may not be able to do this if the browning is hidden at the center of the fruit. If it is, it will probably last for a reasonable amount of time, but when brown spots appear on the outside of the peel, make an effort to eat that banana next.
If you accidentally drop or bruise a banana at home, make sure you use this up as soon as you can to avoid food waste. Even if you can’t see a bruise, it is likely that you have damaged the insides of the fruit, and it will start to decay increasingly quickly if it is left.
Are Brown Bananas Safe To Eat?
Brown bananas should be perfectly safe to eat, as the brown color is caused by damage to the cells, and not by bacteria or fungal infections.
The brown flesh will not hurt you if you consume it, although very black banana flesh probably should not be eaten. If the banana has started to break down and turn slimy, do not consume it, as it will contain bacteria.
If you prefer, you can cut the brown flesh out of a banana before consuming it; many people find that this flesh is not particularly pleasant to eat, as it is very sweet and the texture may not be enormously pleasant – it is usually pretty mushy and may even be somewhat slimy. Use a knife or spoon to remove this part and enjoy the rest of the flesh.
However, many people actually use the flesh that has gone brown in order to make cakes and desserts, as the brown flesh is very sweet and has a somewhat toffee-like taste. This makes it ideal for certain dishes, and for baking things like banana bread, where the sweetness will serve well with the other flavors.
Indeed, some people even choose to put bananas in the fridge so that the cold will damage them, specifically to produce this browning effect. Because the bananas are below 32 degrees F, they will quickly start to turn black in the center, and this will spread to the rest of the banana, making it perfect for a banana-based dessert.
Bananas often turn brown inside as a result of being stored in conditions that are too cold for them, and if you have ever put bananas in your fridge, you will probably have observed this. Brown bananas are safe to eat, but you can remove the brown flesh if you prefer.