I am absolutely convinced of this.
When I was around 4 years old, I loved bananas so much, I ate 3 in a row.
I’ll admit there was a wide gap between then and today, when I appreciate the fruit for so much more than a tasty snack.
Top 3 Charms of Bananas:
1. Portability. As a snack, a banana is the easiest to take along. It possesses its own, eco-friendly packaging, pull tabs, and a handle. Save time and money when you are doing errands by grabbing a bunch for the car. No need to put them in a bag or keep cool.
Eco-Tip! Bananas are already packaged in their own thick skins. Why waste a bag and a twist tie when you buy them at the grocery store? Simply stick the price label directly to the bananas and send them through the scanner.
2. Price. At under 60 cents per pound, bananas are not only one of the cheapest fruits, they also rival other kinds of snacks for their ability to satisfy hunger. Unless you eat 3 in a row, as I did, you generally will eat one banana per snack.
3. Power to Bind. There is a small “window of opportunity” at which I think bananas are perfectly ripe. After that point, they quickly fall from grace and I have to admit to wasting hundreds in them over the course of a lifetime.
When I learned to cook, it was out of desperation. I had been diagnosed with allergies to corn, soy, eggs, potatoes and rye (and all their associated food friends). If I didn’t figure out what I could eat, I was going to starve. As grumpy as I get when I am hungry, this was not a pretty picture. So, I began to teach myself to identify ingredients that are safe for me, and to cook from scratch. In the process, I learned about the unique properties of cooked and of frozen bananas.
Cooked or frozen?
The egg is very important in most baked goods, due to its binding ability. Since I cannot eat eggs, I can substitute half a banana and a 1/2 teaspoon baking powder. Baking powder contains corn, so I have to substitute that as well. So my substitution would look like this:
1 egg = 1/2 mashed banana + 1/2 teaspoon baking powder = 1/2 mashed banana + 1/8 teaspoon baking soda + 1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
And you wondered where you were going to need to use math later in life …
The best bananas to use for baking are the ones you can easily mash, or, the ones with the brown spots that are too soft for me to enjoy raw.
The best way to save bananas for use in baking is to peel them and then freeze them in small chunks. Simply take some out and thaw before mashing them up for your recipe. I tried just sticking the bananas straight in the freezer, but the peels were much more difficult to remove frozen. After awhile of freezing my fingers scraping at the cold black skins, I resorted to using freezer bags or containers.
Eco Tip! To save on throwing away bags, use a resealable container for fruit, such as a re-purposed plastic container or jar. You can add more as bananas ripen and have a supply ready.
My new favorite way to use bananas is to take these frozen chunks and use them for faux ice cream or smoothies. If you have a powerful blender, you can take them from frozen to a creamy consistency that is very similar to ice cream.
I find that thawing them a bit first works better for my blender, and then I add berries and milk to make a smoothie. There are endless recipes and combinations to whip up a variety of sweet snacks.
Banana Berry Freeze
1 frozen banana, slightly thawed
1 cup frozen mixed berries
1 cup milk (I used whole)
Put all ingredients in the blender and use the setting for frozen drinks. If the chunks of fruit get stuck in the blades, you may need to break them up more.
Once it is blended to a smooth consistency, you can eat it right away, or freeze until it gets as firm as ice cream.
Now instead of throwing away spotty bananas, I am disappointed when they all get eaten and I have none left to freeze!