Peel. Halve. Stash.
Credit: Photo by Banar Fil Ardhi / EyeEm via Getty Images

Keeping a few ripe bananas in my freezer at all times keeps me calm. For one, it means I’m always about five minutes away from banana ice cream. It also means I’m prepared for a midnight banana bread, squidgy banana oatmeal, or a thick, ice-free smoothie. While there are myriad ways to make use of a frozen banana, there is a set of rules I’ve honed after years of freezing the fruit. Here’s what you need to do.

1. Peel

This is my number one rule: Peel your bananas BEFORE putting them in the freezer. Maybe I should embroider this on a t-shirt or pillow? Nothing fills me with more anxiety than opening someone’s freezer (don’t ask me why I’m doing that) to find half a bunch of bespeckled bananas. Do you know how damn near impossible it is to peel a frozen banana? Try it sometime if you want, but if you’ve never felt the urge to fillet a banana just to make yourself a darn smoothie, peel first, freeze second.

2. Halve

Putting whole bananas in the freezer isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but unless you’re working with an industrial-strength blender, heed my word: halve (or thickly slice) bananas before freezing. Slicing a frozen banana is possible—with a heavy, sharp knife and a steady hand—as they tend to hang onto a bit of softness even when completely frozen, but if you’re not sure you won’t give yourself a hand injury, I’d skip it.

3. Stash

After peeling and cutting the bananas, it’s important to store them in a container that won’t subject them to freezer burn. When food is exposed to air in the freezer, water molecules in the food freeze, creating that fuzzy-looking layer of ice around your berries, burgers, and ice cream. Stash bananas in an airtight plastic or silicone container, or a freezer-grade plastic zip-top bag. After they’re frozen, these bananas will basically last forever. I like to cycle new bananas into the container about as often as I use them, so I never have to do without.