Bananas: they are delicious, nutritious and filling. They come in their own, eco-friendly and easy-to-remove packaging, and they work in a whole host of recipes. You can blend them, bake them, fry them and even freeze them. Unfortunately, bananas are also very susceptible to unnecessary food waste because people tend to be very picky out their ripeness. Getting the most out of your bananas is all about timing, as their ripeness affects the recipe. So let’s keep those bananas out of the bin with a few handy tips to make the most out of every stage of their life cycle.
In some parts of the world, particularly Latin American and the Caribbean, underripe or green bananas are widely used in savoury dishes. Their starchy, firm texture makes them perfect for frying and roasting. Try making banana chips, by frying or roasting slices until crispy and golden. They are delicious with a little salt, chilli and lime.
You can bake with underripe bananas: their low sugar content is perfect for those on a low GI diet. If you want to ripen them faster, pile unpeeled bananas on a baking sheet and pop them in an oven at 150°C for 30 minutes.
A perfectly ripe banana can go in any of these recipes, or be enjoyed in its natural form. I’m yet to encounter a healthier and more conveniently portable snack. Take a few on your next camping trip and make banana boat smores: stuff them with chocolate, crackers and marshmallows and then roast them in their skin over an open fire.
Overripe bananas have a softer texture, making them easier to digest and great for recipes that demand blending. Studies have shown that the browner the banana, the richer it is in antioxidants. Naturally sweeter, they are perfect for desserts and baking. This banana bread is a classic recipe, that is so easy to master.
If your bananas are ripening faster than you can bake, try peeling and freezing. Then you’ll have them at hand whenever you need, whether it’s for a cake or a banana and peanut butter pancake batter. You can even blend it into a delicious and healthy banana ice cream. Once you’ve got the basic recipe down, this is endlessly adaptable. Try it with a little rum and ginger, or even maple syrup and candied bacon! You can also throw frozen bananas straight into a blender for an extra icy smoothie. Try this which also uses up your lonely last egg.
To fans of overripe bananas, I’d suggest getting friendly with your local greengrocer. Since they are harder to sell, they often offer a discount or even give you some for free. And, once you’ve got a taste for it, those brown bananas become golden.