My banana is black in the middle – is it safe to eat?

I was recently making some banana bread, and as I was mashing the bananas up, one of them was all black on the inside. I wondered about it and decided to do some research and what I found out is amazing.

Bananas that have blackened in the middle, for the most part, are not safe to eat. Bananas with this condition might be a beautiful and normal yellow color on the outside but are black on the inside. More accurately, this is a condition in some bananas called “black center syndrome.”

Of course, everyone has their version of why bananas that have blackened inside are safe or unsafe to eat. So, where should you draw the line at eating a banana?

Table of Contents

What Is Black Center Syndrome in Bananas?

Black center syndrome can be an indication of two things:

  • A fungal infection
  • Mishandling at the distribution center

As bananas ripen, their skin starts to change color from yellow to brown and finally to black. Yellow and brown bananas are safe to eat. But when bananas become black, it is an indication of rot. You may notice that black bananas go completely soft and mushy, then start to smell.

Unless you’re a member of a chimpanzee family, consuming a black center banana may not be a good idea. If a fungal infection is present, and you eat it, you can experience vomiting and diarrhea. Ouch! Does that sound like something you want to go through? I sure don’t!

A black center is also an indication of mishandling, such as being dropped or crushed under heavy crates. The black color indicates bruising and occurs as a result of stress placed on the banana.

Most fruits, when opened, will turn black. Soon after, they go bad. Have you noticed this? For that reason, it is advisable to use fruits soon after you have cut them open. When it comes to bananas, when they start to turn dark brown, it may not be best to consume them, because as we have mentioned above, decay is beginning to set in. Also, have we said how scary a black center banana looks?

However, if the rest of your banana is not black as well, I feel like you could cut out the ripe parts and enjoy them with some ice cream. The black center syndrome seems to be very centered in the banana and does not spread to the rest of the banana. Just don’t eat the black parts. They are inedible.

How to Choose Bananas

Bananas are one of the most popular fruits today. You may enjoy them every morning with your cereal, or like me, you may enjoy a nice slice of banana bread. Of course, loving bananas and choosing the right bananas are two different things.

The banana skin tells us how to choose bananas. However, when you select bananas, know when you are going to eat them. For immediate consumption, choose yellow bananas. It is okay if the skin has brown or black spots; this just means it is sweeter.

For use after a week or two, choose green bananas as this will give them time to ripen in time for you to use, and without going bad. If you buy green bananas, be careful not to drop them or cause them any physical injuries and stress. Otherwise, they will have the infamous “black center syndrome” (how delicate!).

If for any reason, you need to give your bananas a longer life span, you can refrigerate your bananas for several days. The cold will turn the banana skin brown, but your fruit will be okay to eat. Here are some other hacks to give your bananas a longer life:

  • Wrap each banana top in plastic wrap (cling film is not a bad idea).
  • Vinegar or lime added to bananas can slow down the ripening process.

Black center syndrome is not visible on the skin of the banana, which is unfortunate. How else are we supposed to tell? Not until you peel the banana and take a bite will you see the black center. However, there are steps you can take to protect your bananas that I have outlined below.

Steps to Ensure Your Bananas Do Not Get Black Center Syndrome.

Bananas grow in warm places, but they can also withstand low temperatures of up to 14 degrees. Whether you are a banana farmer or just a consumer, here are some steps you can take to prevent black center syndrome in your bananas:

  • Ensure your banana tree is getting all the right nutrients, adequate water, and sunlight.
  • Do not drop the bananas when they are about to start ripening. You know ripening is about to begin when some of the green parts start to turn yellow.
  • Store bananas in a cool and dry place during ripening, preferably in a paper bag.
  • Minimize extra handling and contacting the surface.
  • Wrap your bananas in aluminum foil to promote uniform ripening and to prevent a black center.
  • If you use ethylene to ripen, ensure all your bananas are well covered in ethylene; otherwise, the center might blacken.
  • Do not alternate the temperatures of your ripening bananas. Very high temperatures break down banana enzymes, and very low temperatures can break down your banana’s cell walls, resulting in a blackened, inedible, and hard center.

You also need to know that bananas ripen faster in the summer than in the winter. For this reason, if your bananas are taking longer to ripen, be patient with them, or gas them with ethylene. Ethylene is a ripening hormone that is naturally present in ripe fruits. After your bananas ripen, they can only be edible for the next two days. After that, they start to become mushy and go bad.

Tasting Black Center Bananas.

Human beings are very sense-oriented. We always want to know how the yuckiest things taste. So how do black center bananas taste? Well, they taste like nothing! The blackened center is usually very hard and crunchy, making it an unpleasant surprise when you bite into your breakfast banana, expecting it to be soft and sweet.

While the blackened part may be hard and crunchy, the other parts are essentially still sweet. You can cut away the blackened pieces and still enjoy your banana. However, if your banana smells bad, then it probably tastes just as bad. If you notice mold around the stem, that should be a clear indicator not to eat the fruit.

What Is The Nutritional Value Of Bananas?

A large banana has 121 calories. And for all the health nuts in the house (I know I am), bananas are an excellent source of:

  • Dietary fiber
  • Low cholesterol content
  • Low sodium and saturated fat content
  • Contain potassium and manganese
  • Contain vitamins C and B-6
  • Prebiotic material to encourage the growth of good gut bacteria

What Are Some Interesting Facts About Bananas?

  • Bananas contain dopamine. Eat a banana, and you become happier!
  • Botanically speaking, the banana is considered a berry.
  • Bananas are slightly radioactive! Don’t worry, though. You will need to eat ten million bananas to die from radiation poisoning.
  • The banana tree is not a tree but an herb.
  • 75% of a banana is water.
  • Bananas get sick too!

The Terrifying Truth About Bananas

Where Can I Get Banana Seeds Or A Seedling?

If you want to grow a banana tree in your backyard (yes, it is possible), first you have to live in a place that is not very cold. Secondly, the soil in your backyard should have a PH value of no higher than 7.5.

You can find seedlings from online exporters of bananas or your nearest banana farm or banana plantation.

Final Thoughts.

As much as we want to prevent our bananas from getting the blackened centers, sometimes we cannot help it. However, while blackened center bananas pose no deadly threat, the black parts indicate that something went wrong somewhere. If you bite into a black center banana, there is no reason why you should eat it. If you have eaten a black center banana, I know the experience wasn’t a nice one! Either way, have a banana and stay happy!

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