The Sweet Ingredient That Keeps Banana Slices From Browning

If you've ever seen banana cream pie in a bakery and wondered how they managed to decorate the top with sliced bananas without those turning brown, it turns out there are a few tricks of the trade that can help. Sure, the easy way is to simply bury the bananas under a thick coating of whipped cream, since whipped cream can hide a multitude of flaws in the tastiest possible way. If you're bound and determined to present a fruit-forward pie, though, there's no need to drive yourself bananas. Instead, just dip the slices in some fruit juice to slow down the browning process.

Why fruit juice? Well, the acid in the juice helps keep sliced bananas from releasing the enzymes that cause them to darken. Orange, pineapple, and lemon juice are often recommended for this purpose, because they're all pretty high in acid. Even lemonade can keep fruit from browning, but the downside with any of these options is that they might impart a somewhat tart flavor that won't go well with bananas.

Luckily, there is an alternative: Apple juice — while it tastes fairly sweet — can also be used to forestall banana browning. The reason for this is that despite its common lack of sourness, apple juice, too, is somewhat acidic. Its milder flavor, however, might make it less obtrusive in a banana cream pie or banana pudding recipe.

There are actually 2 sweet ingredients you can use

While many recipes recommend using fruit juice to keep bananas pale due to their aforementioned acid, there is another ingredient that seems to do the trick, and you might not even be aware it's acidic. Honey has a pH level of 3.2 to 4.5, which puts it pretty close to apple juice on the acidity spectrum. Honey also contains a peptide compound that seems to halt the action of the enzyme that causes banana browning.

If you like the idea of using honey rather than apple juice — or you just happen to have it in the pantry — what you need to do is dissolve 1 tablespoon of honey in ½ cup of water. (While it'll eventually get there on its own, a few seconds in the microwave might help speed things along.) Once your honey water is relatively homogeneous, soak the sliced bananas in the solution for 30 seconds.

Tests show that apples dipped in this water resist browning for between 8 to 24 hours, which is pretty impressive. Even though we can't say for sure if the same is true for bananas, the honey dip should help to forestall the darkening process for some time and might also add a nice flavor to your pie.