Because they’re a tropical crop, bananas—which offer abundant vitamin B6, fiber, and potassium—grace fruit stands all year round. Ready-to-eat bananas are bright yellow with brown specks (not bruises) and stems intact. But because America’s most popular fruit ripens quickly at room temperature, feel free to buy bunches still tinged with green.

Never throw away a black banana! Simply peel, break into large chunks or purée, and freeze in zip-top bags (add lemon juice to prevent further browning). Toss frozen into smoothies, or thaw before making banana bread or cornbread.

Bananas and chocolate: a heavenly match. Add a layer of dark-chocolate chips to banana bread batter. Dip peeled bananas in melted dark chocolate and freeze for a healthy treat. Sauté sliced bananas in butter and coffee liqueur, spread over crêpes, and drizzle with chocolate syrup.

Layer banana slices in tall, clear glasses with frozen blueberries, raspberries, vanilla yogurt or coconut milk, and granola for an easy, elegant brunch dish.
–Elisa Bosley