How To Prevent Bananas From Exploding When Ripening In A Microwave

Maybe you're in the mood to bake some sumptuous banana bread at home, but you realize you only have unripe bananas. Your trusty neighbor, who often lends you milk and sugar, is in the same boat and has no ripe bananas to give you. What can you do in such a crunch? Well, don't drive to the local grocery store just yet. There are a few ways to ripen your bananas, and the quickest method is to pop unpeeled bananas into your microwave.

But first, be sure to prick a bunch of vent holes into the unpeeled bananas. You can do this with a fork, the sharp point of a knife, or a bamboo skewer. The tiny vent holes serve as an escape route for the steam that builds up within the bananas while the microwave cooks them. Bananas have water content, after all, and will release steam when cooked.

Without the tiny vent holes, the steam buildup can cause the bananas to explode in the microwave. So the next time you want to quickly ripen your bananas, be sure to poke little holes in them first. Set them on microwave-safe serveware or on top of a moist paper towel, and microwave them in 30-second bursts until they're soft, tender, and ripe. This quick precaution will prevent a messy explosion in your microwave and result in bananas ready for noshing or all your baking needs.

For those without a microwave, there are different ways to ripen bananas

There are other ways to ripen bananas for those with more patience or without a microwave. One way is to stick unripe bananas in a sealed paper bag — just leave them in the bag for up to three days and wait for them to ripen beautifully. While it's not the quickest method, it'll ripen them up faster than leaving them on the countertop. The bananas will release ethylene gas within the bag; ethylene, a hormone that triggers fruits to metabolism, becomes concentrated within the bag, leading to quicker ripening. (You can also include an apple or an unripe avocado in the bag, and the avocado and bananas will ripen together.)

Another way to use heat to ripen bananas is to put them in another warm environment, such as the oven or toaster. You can bake bananas over a parchment-lined baking sheet at 300 degrees Fahrenheit, until the skins darken, for about 15 minutes. 

But if you're really in a pinch and need ripe bananas ASAP, the quickest method is still to nuke them in the microwave. Just remember to poke vent holes first, and you'll have your ripe bananas without a mushy, messy explosion to clean up afterward.