BANANAS for Bananas!

One of the most consistent items in our baskets from week to week is BANANAS! So, what do you know about bananas? Here’s a fun little FAQ I have assembled about bananas for you!

  • Bananas are one of the oldest cultivated plants, and are grown in over 100 countries. Bountiful Baskets bananas come from small farmers in Central Mexico.
  • Bananas grown wild have large, hard seeds, but through centuries of cultivation, the seeds in our bananas are very, very tiny.
  • Bananas are the fruit of the largest herb!
  • An individual banana is called a finger.
  • Bananas are slightly radioactive (it’s the potassium)!
  • Bananas can be used as an egg substitute in yeast-free baking (1/2 banana=1 egg) (except for when eggs act as leavening)


A little info on the Banana ripening process:
Tree-ripened “Cavendish bananas” (the type we get) have a greenish-yellow appearance which changes to a brownish-yellow as they ripen further. While it is said that the flavor and texture of tree ripened bananas is better than what we get at the store, they spoil quickly and so are not shipped that way. Rather, bananas that we get are picked at 75% ripeness and shipped in cooled containers  so that the skins do not split open during transportation. As the various produce distributors receive their bananas, they are typically placed in an airtight room and given a low dose of ethylene gas (the gas the fruit naturally produces as it ripens) to resume the ripening process. The vivid yellow color that we typically associate with store-bought bananas is a result of the gassing that happens.

Despite the rumors that Bountiful Basket Bananas are not “Gassed” or are plaintains, this is not true. Per an official post from the Bountiful Basket Food Co-Op Facebook page:

Don’t toss those green bananas! You may not believe me, but the truth is they WILL eventually get ripe. If they arrive to your site very green, it likely means they did not get enough of the ethylene gas that speeds the ripening process, but they will ripen naturally. It can take up to 6 weeks. Don’t judge by the color or condition of the peel, because they will likely look brown and shriveled at the stem–go by how soft the insides are when you give them a squeeze.

Gassing bananas is more of an art than a science. If they are gassed too much, they are bruised and spoiled when they are put into baskets. Gassed not enough, and they take weeks to ripen. The bananas are gassed, but because the gas combines with temperature to produce ripeness there is a factor that can be a bit of a wildcard.  If you don’t like to wait, try searching for green banana recipes, or trade with someone at your site who doesn’t mind waiting for the ripening process to happen.

I have been participating with Bountiful Baskets for almost a year now. And I can count how many times on one hand that we did not get bananas. And often, my bananas are very green, like yours. And to be honest, I prefer them that way! I did a little experiment a while back, trying different methods of ripening my green bananas. While I tried a whole slew of methods—on top of the fridge in a brown bag, in a brown bag with a ripe apple or a ripe banana, hanging, in a bowl with ripe fruit, on the counter, etc., I didn’t find that any one method ripened my bananas faster than another. However, after 6 agonizing weeks of waiting for my bananas to ripen, they finally did. They weren’t pretty. But I could tell how ripe they were by gently squishing them and feeling if they had any give. Once they had some give and felt soft instead of hard, then I ate them. Below are my mostly ripe bananas, after 6 weeks of ripening.

 

Bananas, after ripening for 6 weeks

 

While I don’t particularly care for regular over-ripe bananas (way too sweet!) these long-ripened bananas had a sweetness that regular bananas don’t have, and a depth of flavor that over-ripe store bananas don’t have. So, if you have the patience (and the room), letting them sit on the counter or on top of the fridge to ripen, is well worth the wait! They are second to none, despite how beat-up they look!

IF you are lucky, once your bananas ripen, and if they last more than a few minutes in your house (with 4 young kids, it doesn’t happen in my house!), here are some great ideas on how to use your bananas!

Banana Hot dogs - Get a hot dog bun spread with peanut butter or Nutella. Add banana! (Kendra L.)

Banana Quesadillas - Tortilla smeared with chocolate, peanut butter or Nutella, then smear another tortillas with mashed bananas then put together either bake or fry in butter. (Kendra L)

Smoothies - Add bananas (frozen or not) to smoothies to help thicken and to make them creamier.

 

Banana "Ice Cream"

Ingredients

  • Bananas
  • Optional-- other fruit, chocolate syrup, peanut butter, chocolate chips, etc.

Instructions

  1. Slice up some bananas, and place them on a freezer-paper lined cookie sheet.
  2. Freeze the banana slices for a couple of hours.
  3. Put the bananas into a food processor or a powerful blender and run it for a few minutes, until the bananas are pureed and have a soft-serve ice cream consistency, scraping the sides occasionally.
  4. Eat!
  5. You can try adding other ingredients to it as well, such as other frozen fruits and berries, or chocolate sauces, etc.
  6. When I freeze the banana slices for too long, my food processor has a difficult time because the bananas are too hard. I add just a little liquid (I used milk) to help thin things out.

Banana Bread

Ingredients

  • 1 cup mashed banana (3 or 4 bananas)
  • ¼ c vegetable oil
  • ¾ c sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ½ c flour
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1 t baking powder
  • ½ t baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 t lemon zest (optional)
  • ½ c chopped nuts (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the first four ingredients. In a smaller bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda, and the salt. Combine it with the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Add the zest and the nuts if desired. Pour the batter into a greased bread pan (4x8), and bake for 40-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  2. • Feel free to experiment with whole wheat flour, or with adding other ingredients, such as berries and other chopped fruits, or chocolate chips. You can also try adding peanut butter for an unique banana bread. I would try maybe 1/3 c of PB at first. It does change the texture of the bread slightly and dries it out a little, but it is yummy!

Honey Glazed Banana Chips

Banana Pudding

Bananas Foster

Green Banana Recipes:

Green Banana Fries

Cooked Green Bananas in Coconut Milk

Green Bananas in Aji-Li-Mojili Sauce (From the Caribbean)

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3 Responses to “BANANAS for Bananas!”

  1. Penny Stevens says:

    I also heard of another way to eat green bannas. Boil them in their skin then scrape them out mash and add butter salt & pepper. A good substitute for potatoes with good vitamin value.

  2. Bobbi says:

    My bananas have always been good here in Helena, MT

  3. Laura says:

    This is good to know. It has been very frustrating for me because only one time that I contributed did my bananas ripen and were edible. I guess I will try to let them sit for six weeks and see if they get better. I tried one after two weeks and it was crunchy…… disgusting.

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