What Makes Bananas Brown on the Inside? 2 Surprising Reasons

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Bananas naturally become brown as they age or interact with their surroundings.These interactions cause the fruit to go through chemical reactions that alter its look and flavor.

Brown bananas may not appear appealing, but as long as there is no mildew on them and they are not slimy, they are typically okay to eat.

In fact, certain recipes benefit more from browning bananas than from yellow bananas since brown bananas are softer and sweeter, adding natural moisture to dishes.

In this post, we’ll look at why bananas get brown on the interior.

Why Are Bananas Brown Inside?

Why Are Bananas Brown Inside? 2 Unexpected Reasons

Bananas become brown on the interior owing to either the ripening activity of a hormone called ethylene or the enzymatic browning process mediated by an enzyme called polyphenol oxidase. Enzymatic browning occurs when fruits and vegetables oxidize and become brown.

My Bananas Turned Brown. What Happened?

It might be a letdown to learn that your bananas have changed from brilliant yellow to an unappealing brown tint, particularly if you were looking forward to eating them today.

What happened to them, and why did they become brown?

That Hormone Called Ethylene

If the insides of your bananas have gone brown, this might be due to the activity of a hormone called ethylene.

Ethylene is a hormone found in plants that helps control the ripening process of their fruits. When the plant determines it is ready to ripen, an internal switch turns on, increasing ethylene production and, as a result, fruit ripening.

Unripe fruit frequently contains low levels of ethylene, but when the internal switch is activated, its concentration in the fruit increases, triggering increased sugar production, lower acid levels in the fruit, and the release of aromatic compounds–basically all of the processes required to make the fruit appealing, delicious, and ripe.

These are triggered by a spike in ethylene, and the fascinating thing is that this process is intuitive to the plant, with no actual awareness of when this switch is turned on.

Ethylene allows starches or complex sugars to be broken down into simple sugars and aids in the breakdown of pectin in bananas, which softens their texture. It also activates additional enzymes that convert the green pigments in the banana to yellow pigments, signifying maturity.

However, ethylene may be artificially generated, which is typical practice with fruits seen in supermarkets.

Because fully ripe fruits are more easily damaged during transport and may become overripe or spoil even before they reach the supermarket shelves, it is much more practical for producers to harvest before they are fully ripe and then control their ripening in a controlled setting by inducing artificial ethylene gas.

This is done sometimes with climacteric fruits such as apples, bananas, pears, and peaches. Climacteric fruits, in general, are fruits that continue to ripen after being harvested.

Non-climacteric fruits, such as grapes, strawberries, and oranges, need attachment to the parent plant to completely mature and acquire their full taste. Exposure to ethylene gas after harvest has no effect on ripening.

Because of ethylene, placing a green or underripe banana in a brown paper bag on the counter can cause it to ripen in a few days. This ripening process is accelerated by its exposure to its own ethylene gas through its stems.

This is also why, to slow down the ripening process, keep the banana stems covered to slow down the emission of this gas and decrease the fruits’ exposure to it.

Fruit ripening is basically the beginning of fruit degradation.Bananas begin to degrade when the fruit has completely matured, becoming fragrant, brilliant yellow, and with a sensitive yet firm texture.

When they have begun the degradation process, the banana will begin to soften, change color from yellow to brown, and lose part of the sweet perfume that was present at peak ripeness.

If your bananas are brown on the interior, they may be overripe as a result of ethylene exposure.

An Enzyme by the Name of PPO

If your banana is not overripe but has become brown on the interior, this might be due to the activity of an enzyme known as polyphenol oxidase, or PPO for short.

Polyphenol oxidase is an enzyme found in fruits and vegetables that has the ability to cause enzymatic browning.

Enzymatic browning, as the name implies, is the browning of fruit or vegetable flesh caused by enzyme activity. Enzymatic browning occurs when a fruit or vegetable is sliced, bruised, or injured, or when they are stressed in any manner.

If you’ve ever chopped apples or avocados and noticed that they became brown within minutes after being cut, this is due to enzymatic browning.

In layman’s words, when cells are broken, the PPO that they contain is released into the fruit system and interacts with the other molecules it comes into contact with. When they interact with oxygen, they generate bonds that ultimately produce chemicals known as quinones.

Quinones are very reactive, and when they mix with oxygen and other molecules in the fruit, they cause melanin to be produced.

Melanin is responsible for turning fruits and vegetables brown during the enzymatic browning process.

If it sounds familiar, it’s because you’ve undoubtedly heard the phrase before, since it’s the same pigment that determines the color of our hair, skin, and eyes. The more melanin there is, the darker the brown pigment.

A banana that is brown on the interior might have been injured, bruised, or agitated in some manner, causing the flesh to become brown. The same browning may be seen on a cut, peeled, or sliced banana.

severe cold or severe heat may produce browning in bananas because extreme temperature fluctuations cause cell damage, resulting in the release of PPO.

Enzymatic browning produces undesirable color changes in fruit, which may affect its perceived freshness. They are safe to consume, although their appearance might be unpleasant.

Fortunately, there are steps you can do to avoid or at least reduce the browning of your banana.

How Can I Avoid Brown Bananas?

You may prevent brown bananas by following the guidelines below.

1. Go For Bananas That Are Slightly Underripe

To prevent waking up to brown bananas shortly after purchasing them from the shop, buy bananas that are still somewhat green or underripe.

Bananas will continue to ripen on your counter since they are climacteric fruits, or fruits that may ripen after harvest.

Purchasing them slightly underripe will allow you to spend more time with them, particularly if you want to use your bananas for many reasons. Going somewhat green might be a nice alternative to returning home with completely ripe bananas that are overripe the following day.

2. Keep Banana Stems Wrapped in Foil or Plastic Wrap

Bananas emit ethylene gas via their stems, and wrapping them in foil or plastic wrap slows this release and hence slows ripening. You may discover that you have additional yellow banana days before they turn brown.

3. Make Sure They Are Allowed To Breathe

Bananas want room to breathe, so take them from their packaging when you arrive home and avoid storing them in a paper or plastic bag unless you want them to turn brown quicker.

Keeping them in a sealed bag concentrates the ethylene and accelerates the ripening process.

4. Be Careful With Handling Your Bananas

As previously stated, any kind of injury will cause the cells to break down and release PPO, which will then interact with phenolic chemicals and oxygen, turning the product brown.

To prevent this, treat your bananas with care, making sure they are not dropped, bruised, or handled harshly, since any form of stress might trigger this process.

5. Adding An Acid Like Lemon

Spritzing sliced bananas with lemon juice helps reduce the natural browning process induced by enzymatic browning. In acidic settings, the enzyme PPO performs poorly.

Adding this acidity to your sliced bananas will significantly slow down the activity of PPO and the enzymatic browning process.

However, although citric acid and lemon juice might help postpone browning, they are not as efficient as other anti-browning agents such as ascorbic acid, according to Penn State Extension.

Can I Still Eat Bananas That Are Brown Inside?

Bananas that have gone brown on the interior are generally okay to eat. They may not be as appealing as yellow-fleshed bananas, but they are quite safe to consume. The only disadvantage is that the browner it gets, the sweeter it will be and the mushier the texture will be.

If you are concerned about the brown spots, you may just chop them out and eat the rest of the meat as is.

Just make sure your banana isn’t slimy or has mold or anything else peculiar on its surface. If this is the case, it is preferable to discard it.

After a while, those brown bananas may no longer be edible on their own, and they are better suited for items like banana bread or banana muffins, or any dish that asks for mashed bananas, such as pancakes. The natural sweetness of the overripe bananas eliminates the need for additional sugar.

I usually use overripe bananas in my banana bread. I feel that they have more flavor depth and give the bread a more banana-like flavor than using just-ripe bananas.

Frequently Asked Questions to Why Are Bananas Brown Inside?

Why Do Bananas Darken In the Fridge?

Bananas are tropical fruits with no adaptations to cold conditions. Refrigerating them may cause stress and damage to the cells, resulting in browning or darkening.

Can You Eat A Brown Part of A Banana?

Brown sections of bananas are okay to eat if they are overripe or browning induced by the fruit’s enzymes, albeit they may be mushy and taste sweeter than the rest of the banana.

Conclusion to Why Are Bananas Brown Inside?

Bananas may become brown owing to ethylene, a plant hormone responsible for stimulating the ripening process, or to polyphenol oxidase, an enzyme. Polyphenol oxidase, or PPO, initiates a chemical process known as enzymatic browning in response to fruit injury or stress.

In all of these circumstances, the bananas are safe to eat, but it is still vital to inspect them for mold or strange growths, as well as off-odors and peculiar textures, to ensure that the browning isn’t caused by infections.

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