Making a banana pudding, especially if you are trying to make it the day before can be incredibly challenging. You can very easily end up with bananas that have browned and cookies that are super soggy.
However, there are some simple steps you can follow to avoid this happening. Knowing the best techniques you can use to prevent any problems with your banana pudding can ensure that you get the best final product as possible.
So, if you plan to make banana pudding soon, keep reading!
It is actually possible to make your banana puddings 24 hours in advance, but sometimes up to 36 and even 48 hours if you know what you are doing.
And even more impressively, you can do this keeping your cookie layer completely intact, and without having any brown bananas either.
There was plenty of experimenting to understand how to get to this, but once you know what you need to do, it is not too difficult!
In this guide we will be going over all the steps you need to follow if you want to ensure that your banana pudding stays in the best shape possible if you are making it in advance.
Some of these steps can be a little challenging to get your head around, because of this, you will want to make sure to read this guide in detail if you are planning to make a banana pudding this way.
So, if you love making or just enjoying banana pudding, but you do not know the best methods to help it preserve, this guide will give you the information you need!
How To Make Your Banana Pudding As Fresh As Possible
As you likely know already, a banana pudding is a layered recipe, and it is similar to an English trifle. It uses layers of wafer cookies, then uses banana slices, and then this is topped with a simple vanilla pudding.
Then you can garnish it with cookies crumbled up, whipped cream, and some extra fresh bananas sliced on top as well. However, when considering all of these steps, there are a lot of places where it can go wrong!
As you can imagine, the secret to getting the most fresh banana pudding possible is the bananas.
These bananas can very quickly turn brown or even black, and this can make the appearance of the pudding pretty unappealing even if they might still taste alright.
The vanilla pudding is actually an easy ingredient to work with and this can last for around 4 to 5 days before it goes bad, so this is not part of the recipe you will need to worry about.
You will also want to focus on your cookies as well. If you get the best cookies possible these will stay intact for as long as they need to and will also stay soft. These cookies should be able to stay like this for around 3 days.
But of course, the focus is on the bananas, and if these bananas look unappealing, then you will have a pudding that looks unappealing as well.
But if you use our planning advice, then you can stop this from happening to the bananas easily! This allows you to make the recipe much earlier than you usually would!
Why Do Sliced Bananas Go Brown?
If you eat bananas regularly, you have probably noticed that once the banana has been sliced or peeled, it will gradually get browner.
This is similar to how rust forms on a metal, but in a much quicker way. Rust will form on iron when it has been exposed to water as well as oxygen. This is the same for the inside of a banana, it will form its brown when it has been exposed to oxygen.
The reason for this is that the flesh of your banana is made using an antioxidant dopamine as well as a protein enzyme, and this is called polyphenol oxidase.
So, when your banana is cut, and you have exposed the flesh of the banana to oxygen, the polyphenol oxidase that is in the banana will then go through enzymatic oxidation with the dopamine, the simple explanation of this is that the banana will simply start to brown!
Of course, it is worth clarifying that browning is not bad, but it just makes the appearance less appealing!
How To Prevent Sliced Bananas Going Brown
As we have mentioned a few times, you can make your banana pudding quite a while in advance, going as far back as 24 and 36 hours quite easily if you follow our advice.
You can even make it this early, and if you follow our advice the bananas will not even start turning brown.
There are quite a few different tricks you can use to stop the bananas in your banana pudding from browning, because of this, we will go through all of them in this section!
When To Slice A Banana
As we mentioned in the previous section, as soon as you have exposed your banana to oxygen, it will start to brown.
So, if you want to ensure that your browning does not happen immediately, you want to ensure that your vanilla pudding is prepared in advance, and all the other components and ingredients of your banana pudding are already gathered and easily accessible.
Once you are prepared, you want to wait up until the last minute to slice your bananas, this will ensure that they have as little time exposed to the oxygen as possible. You will want to use the peel to protect the flesh of the banana from oxygen.
This is easiest to do if you peel your banana from the front side and then slice it while the rest of the banana is still in the peel, and then do the back in the same way. Then you can essentially store the banana in its peel until you are ready to work with it.
The best piece of advice we can give is that if you plan to make your banana pudding the day before, and that you want to garnish and decorate the top of the pudding with sliced bananas, that you do not do this garnish until right before serving.
If you leave these sliced bananas on the top, they will start to brown, and then what would be a nice decoration will have browned by the time you are ready to eat it.
Something that is worth considering is that you can utilize certain edible acids, this includes citrus juices, as well as some vinegar.
These can actually slow down how fast your banana will brown, so if you want your bananas to be more protected against this then we recommend working with an acid in this way.
We recommend a diluted lemon juice, or diluted orange, lime, pineapple, or grapefruit if this is not available. If you want to use vinegar, you can as well.
Whichever option you go with, you want to dilute the acid you are using in water. This will minimize the taste of whatever you are using and will ensure that the bananas will not taste like what you are using.
You will want to dilute at a rate of 1 cup of water to 1 or 2 tablespoons of your acid, depending on how strong its flavor is. You do not want to keep bananas in this acid solution for too long, this will make them mushy quickly, just a quick dip.
To do this method all you need to do is prep one cup of your cold water and mix the 1 to 2 tablespoons of your acid into it. The slice your banana and place this banana slice into the solution for around 15 seconds.
Then take the banana slices out from the water, pat it dry, if you need to, and then you can use these bananas as soon as possible and they should brown slower than usual.
The Role Of The Knife
This is a factor a lot of people overlook, but your knife can have a significant impact on how quickly your banana browns, so knowing which bananas are best and worst for your bananas is worth knowing.
You might not know this, but a kitchen knife is usually made from a steel alloy, an alloy being a mix of metals. You will usually add carbon to steel and this will make carbon steel, or chromium to carbon steel and this will make stainless steel.
The reason why you make your steel into an alloy for something like a knife is because this will help slow down how quickly your knife will rust.
If you are working with a lower quality knife, especially if it is just steel, and especially if it has some corrosion on it already, this can actually increase the rate at which your bananas will rust if you use it when slicing them.
A better type of knife to use for cutting bananas would actually be a plastic or ceramic knife!
As we mentioned earlier, the polyphenol oxidase in the bananas is the enzyme which ends up causing the browning reaction, but this enzyme is also heat sensitive too.
So, if you want a simple method to slow down the browning you can heat them. Of course heating or cooking your bananas can change the taste, as well as the texture of the bananas, however, sometimes this can improve the bananas.
For example, you can improve your banana pudding recipe by using caramelized bananas.
If you want to caramelize your bananas, first you want to melt about 3 tablespoons of butter into your skillet on a medium low heat, and then add a third cup of brown sugar into this until it melts.
Then you can slice around 4 bananas into half inch thick slices, and then add these bananas into the skillet. You want to stir the bananas around and coat them in the butter and sugar mix and cook for about 1 or 2 minutes.
Once one side is done, flip and cook another side. This will keep the bananas firm, improve their flavor, and stop them from getting more brown! Make sure to chill them before adding to your pudding!
Using A Barrier
Another method you can try when it comes to stopping your bananas from browning is to try using a barrier. This will limit the exposure your bananas have to any oxygen, and will also slow down the browning because of this!
The best component of the banana pudding to use as a barrier is the vanilla pudding, so make sure you are not skimping when putting it on top of the banana layer.
If you ensure that the vanilla pudding has completely covered the banana layer, this will slow down the browning significantly!
You will actually find that some people go a step further and they will actually mix their bananas into a small amount of pudding before they add them to the cookie layer.
This can work but it is still a little inefficient. Because of this, we recommend still covering the bananas with a thick layer of pudding.
However, you want to make sure when trying this method to try and keep the layers as consistent as possible, because even a little bit of banana sticking out of the pudding will make it brown.
Using The Correct Container
Similarly to how you can use the vanilla pudding to create a barrier between your banana and the air, you will also want to try and use a properly airtight container to do the same thing.
If you store your banana pudding in an airtight container, this will stop the oxygen from getting to the banana. You will want to use a serving dish for your banana pudding that has a secure lid if you want to make your banana pudding ahead of time.
You can also use plastic wrap if you do not have a secure container available.
If you cover the plastic wrap flat above the dish, and then cover it in a couple layers of aluminum foil as well, this will also help protect it, however an airtight container is preferable usually.
If you do not have an airtight container available, you will be wanting to eat your banana pudding within 12 hours of it being put together
This is a more basic recommendation, but it is worth noting, but the cooler and drier climate of your refrigerator will slow down the browning of your banana pudding as well.
As you know, when you pick a banana, they will be green and unripe. The method that is used to stop the bananas from ripening before they get onto store shelves is to ship them in a refrigerated cargo hold.
This is a great method of slowing the browning even after the banana slices have been cut up.
You will also find that a lot of banana pudding recipes will actually recommend you refrigerate the banana pudding after you have set your layers in your serving dish.
Of course, when you are chilling the banana pudding, the cookies will naturally soften and the flavors will blend, but also the browning of the bananas will slow too.
Because of this, we will dedicate some time to going over the best cookie choices when it comes to making banana pudding.
Use A Cookie When You Are Making Your Banana Pudding The Day Before
You will find that there are plenty of different types of cookies being recommended for use in banana pudding, so knowing which is the best is important to know.
One of the most common and recommended choices is vanilla wafers, or as they are commonly called, Nilla wafers. You can also find butter cookies being recommended as well with one of the most popular brands being Chessman butter cookies.
These are one of the best types of cookies to use when you are serving a traditional banana pudding, if you are making it ahead of time.
After the banana pudding has been assembled for about 24 hours, the pudding will be absorbed into your cookie, and because of this, the cookie layer can then get harder to distinguish, and this can bother some people who love this layer being a little more distinct.
Because of this, if you are making the banana pudding further ahead of time, around 36 hours, then we recommend using shortbread cookies instead. These are thicker, and will not become too moist over time and will retain a distinctive layer!
Storing Your Banana Pudding To Keep It Fresh
So, if you are making a banana pudding the day before, one factor that we have not discussed yet that is important to consider is how you are going to store your banana pudding to keep it as fresh as possible.
One piece of aforementioned advice that can also apply to this section is that you should try to use a serving dish that comes with an airtight lid you can use to seal in the freshness.
However, even if you are also using an airtight seal, you will also want to use plastic wrap as well. The way to do this is to use plastic wrap directly on the surface of your banana pudding.
Do this before you have added the whipped cream and sliced bananas since you want to add those pieces before serving.
You instead want to add the plastic film on the pudding layer, this will keep everything underneath it fresh, but will also stop a layer of skin forming on the pudding which is unappealing to most people and affects the texture.
So, when you are ready to serve your banana pudding, all you need to do is carefully remove the plastic wrap, then add your whipped cream, sliced bananas, and crumbled cookies and your banana pudding will be like you made it just before!
You of course will also need to refrigerate your banana pudding when it is sealed, even if it is airtight and covered in wrap, you want a low temperature to ensure that bananas brown slower and it keeps the original structure and the pudding does not spoil.
How To Serve
The best time to take your banana pudding out of the refrigerator is about 15 or 20 minutes before you are planning to serve it.
You are doing it at this time, so the banana pudding can lose some of its chill and you will get the best taste by the time it is on the plates of the guests.
Of course though, you still want the banana pudding to be cold, the exact timing of when it is removed from the refrigerator should depend on the ambient temperature.
Of course, if you are taking your banana pudding to a party or a similar event, you will want to only remove it from your refrigerator right before you travel.
If you have a chance, you want to have space in the refrigerator of the host location, so make sure there is space in advance so you can let your banana pudding regain some of its structure and to ensure it does not spoil before it is time to serve.
Once you are ready to serve your banana pudding and you have taken it from the refrigerator, you want to take off your airtight seal and then carefully remove the plastic wrap on the surface of the pudding layer.
While you give the banana pudding a chance to reach the ambient temperature, you want to get any of your garnishes prepared.
This could be slicing the fresh bananas, crumbling up cookies if you have not done this already, or whipping any cream if you want to use a freshly whipped cream instead of canned.
We recommend that you save the bananas until the end since these will of course start to brown as soon as they are out of the peel, so once the cookies are crumbled and the cream is on the pudding, only then slice your bananas and immediately put them on the pudding.
Of course, you do not have to serve your banana pudding in the traditional way, and there are plenty of different garnishes and decorations you can use. Because of this, feel free to experiment and try out different toppings and flavors!
Other Factors To Consider
When you are making your banana pudding, there are some other factors you are going to want to consider when it comes to getting the best final results.
This section will go through a couple of these factors to keep in mind to ensure that you get the perfect results when you are next making a banana pudding, so read carefully!
With all of the factors and advice we have already given, we would not blame you if some factors that might seem obvious, you have completely missed.
Of course, when you are cooking or baking with bananas, we advise you to pay attention to the ripeness of the bananas you are using.
The bananas you use for a banana pudding, if you are making it between 24 and 36 hours in advance, should be just ripe, but not over-ripe.
This means that when you are resting your banana pudding in the refrigerator, the bananas will further ripen and get sweeter and more delicious!
Of course, if you leave this banana pudding over 48 hours, then the bananas will start to get too ripe, and these are the bananas you use in a banana bread, not in a pudding, and the flavor will likely overpower everything else.
So, the bananas you should be using should be ripe, but not too ripe, so a yellow peel, and a few brown spots.
If your banana was multiple brown spots which are dominating the banana, then this is a better choice for a banana pudding prepared on the day of eating, not the day before.
The Consistency Of The Banana Pudding
If you are making your banana pudding about 36 to 48 hours in advance, this is when the pudding itself could start to cause issues.
The vanilla pudding will start to break down in the fridge, and it will likely become a little runny. If you want your pudding to retain a good quality, you want it to be eaten between 24 to 36 hours after it has been made.
But, of course, this also depends on the type of pudding you are working with. Make sure to research how long your vanilla pudding will retain its texture.
Frequently Asked Questions
No, you should not leave your banana pudding out overnight and not keep it in the fridge.
If you have accidentally left your banana pudding out of the fridge overnight, then we do not recommend trying to save it and unfortunately you should probably throw it away.
The reason for this is that banana pudding contains a lot of dairy products and these should never be left out of the fridge for too long.
For example, once a milk product is out of the fridge for more than 2 hours, it can start to grow bacteria. Also, the texture of the dish will likely be ruined.
So, if you have finished the event you made the banana pudding for and you find yourself still having leftover banana pudding, then how do you keep it?
Simply do what you did before. Keep it in an airtight container and cover the top layer with a layer of plastic wrap. Then keep it in the fridge.
Of course, this will not keep for too long, and any longer than 3 days is not really recommended. This is because the pudding is only as fresh as the bananas in it.
When it comes to storing dessert, you might want to freeze it, and some desserts can be left for long periods of time in the freezer, but unfortunately, this will not work too well for banana pudding.
The main reason for this is that thawing it out when you want to eat it is a challenge. The texture of the banana pudding will be ruined since dairy and fruit do not tend to freeze amazingly, especially if they are mixed.
Unless you specifically need frozen banana pudding, then we would not recommend trying this and just eat fresh.
Hopefully this guide has given you all the information you need to be confident when it comes to preparing banana pudding in the future.
For what is a simple recipe, there are quite a few factors you are keeping in mind, so try not to get overwhelmed. Instead, take it one step at a time, and only try to keep in mind the advice that comes with each step, instead of all of it at once, especially if this is your first time making banana pudding in advance.
But if you apply all our advice, you will have a delicious banana pudding!
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