What to do With Over Ripe Bananas
Bananas are a well known tropical fruit, high in potassium and a good source of fiber. They're relatively inexpensive, they come in their own wrapper (a nice thick peel) and they just happen to be delicious. Bananas are a kitchen staple, but there's one small problem. They taste best at the peak of freshness; which only lasts a few days.
Bananas are best purchased when they are yellow or slightly green. They'll ripen on a counter, and they ripen best with a banana that's slightly spotty sitting next to them. You'll know they're ready to eat when a fine sprinkling of brown spots appears on the skin, signalling that the carbs inside are turning to just the right amount of sugar. But watch out, because once they ripen, they ripen quickly. Before you know it, a banana or two will have ripened into a dark, spotty mess on your counter. There is a point when bananas are no longer remotely edible, and at that point the only thing you can possibly do is toss them in the compost heap or trash can. But if you catch them before then, between the 'nice and spotty' and 'pretty mushy' stage, you don't have to dispose of the delightful banana. Throwing bananas (or any other food) away is like throwing money away. You're disposing of pennies, quarters, dollars...hard work, fertilizer and the gas used to transport that banana from Ecuador to your refrigerator. The least you can do is find a way to use it. You have options. I'm here to outline them for you.
If you can't eat them, bake them. The easiest way to use up a mess of over ripe bananas is to mash them up and make banana bread. There are plenty of recipes, here on hubpages, all over the internet and probably in your own handy-dandy recipe file. Choose your favorite recipe, pull out the masher or and get baking. potato ricer
If banana bread isn't your thing, or you don't have enough bananas for your favorite recipe, try mashing up a banana and adding it to your morning pancakes or waffles. It isn't quite banana bread, but it adds a new flavor and a bit of variety to your morning.
Not in the mood to eat them just now? Banana bread stores well in the freezer, just cool it off and wrap it up. Banana pancakes can be frozen, too. Freeze them in a single layer on a cookie sheet, then tuck them into a freezer storage bag and seal them up with as little air as possible. Toast them up later, or just defrost and enjoy. (my kids like them still frozen)
Elvis Presley's favorite late night snack was rumored to be a fried peanut butter sandwich. Slightly over ripe bananas are the perfect addition for this sinful treat. Make a peanut butter sandwich, slathering two slices of bread with nut butter. For better browning, you can use butter on the outside of the bread. Slice up your over ripe banana and spread it out on one side of the bread, on top of the peanut butter. Top with the other. Heat a lightly oiled skillet up over medium heat and brown both sides of the sandwich. Dust with powdered sugar for serving. Enjoy!
A few years ago, I explored the Specific Carb Diet. One of the best discoveries I made was a new recipe for what they called banana pancakes. The end result is creamier than normal' pancakes, and really not breadlike at all. They are gluten free, and casein free, ideal for a grain free diet. But they are delicious, once you get the hang of cooking them. They work well in a waffle maker, too. My adaptation is below. Cook them at a lower setting for a little longer than you expect to need to. They need to cook all the way through without burning.
- 2 eggs
- 1 slightly over ripe banana
- Optional: a tsp nut butter
- Season with nutmeg and cinnamon to taste
Beat the eggs really well. Incorporate the banana and nut butter. Heat oil in a frying pan on a Low/med setting. Drop a Tbs of batter in and cook until set, maybe a moment or two more, until you can easily flip them without making scrambled egg-banana mush. Flip. Cook until done. Repeat. Serve with yoghurt or nut butter. (Syrup will be a little too rich) This recipe only really serves one, maybe two as a side dish.
How to Freeze Bananas
Frozen bananas for later use are easier than most people imagine. Peel the banana first, because it's hard to get that frozen peel off. Then break it into 4-5 chunks and seal in a freezer bag, taking care to try and press most of the air out. It will discolor somewhat, and may form ice crystals. Either of these visual changes are fine, They'll keep for at least 6 months. You can open the bag and add more as they over ripen. We also add extra banana halves from breakfast cereal toppings and snacking.
If you're in the mood for a smoothie, shake or ice cream, go ahead and toss those overripened bananas into the blender with your favorite ingredients. But odds are, you won't ntice those brown bananas until after your sweet tooth is satisfied. Or you'll be in a smoothie mood, with no bananas in sight. Instead of using fresh bananas in that blender, keep a stash of frozen bananas in your freezer. Freezing bananas is simple, and you can just add to your stash whenever you find yourself with bananas that are past the stage of prime eating.
When you are ready for a smoothie, you can pull out your frozen stash, break off a few chunks, and toss them in the blender with your favorite combination of ingredients. Not sure what you like? Here are a few of my family's favorite combinations. We have a personal blender (The Magic Bullet), for individual servings, so we just add a few pieces of each ingredient and eyeball it, depending on our moods. If we find it needs more of something, we can always screw the lid back on and keep blending. For each serving, we use 2 chunks of banana or about half of one, unless we want it extra creamy or banana-y.
- Bananas, frozen pineapple chunks, frozen strawberries with milk (rice milk)
- orange juice, vanilla ice cream and (opt.) frozen banana chunks
- Bananas, blueberries and juice
- Bananas, a few TBS of pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla rice milk
- Bananas, watermelon and juice
- Bananas, extra bananas and chocolate milk (Frozen bananas make it nice and creamy. Instead of just a lot of banana, you could use ice cream, too)
- Bananas, strawberries, yoghurt and juice or milk
Experiment with your own favorite frozen fruits. The frozen bananas make the smoothies nice and creamy, even without additional yoghurt or ice cream. As a food allergy family, we tend to use nondairy varieties of ice cream and yoghurt, and our milk of choice is rice milk. I expect the original forms to work well, too.
Freeze Them Some More
Maybe you're just in the mood for frozen bananas. You don't have to use them as ingredients. If your bananas are just barely over ripe, you can use them for a decadent dessert. Melt some chocolate, add a splash of orange juice. Break the banana in half. Dip it in, and coat with the melted chocolate. Then roll in your favorite toppings, cereal, cookie crumbs, peanut butter chips, etc. Place on wax paper. You can put a skewer or straw in the bottom if you want, for easier eating later. Stick them in the freezer and they'll be ready to eat in a few hours.
That's right, bananas aren't just for eating anymore. It turns out that they make a great addition to your beauty routine. You can use leftover bananas up by turning them into a homemade facial. Your skin will thank you. And the bonus? You won't only be saving money by not throwing away perfectly good (but over ripe) bananas, you won't have to buy an expensive store concoction to augment your beauty routine. How can you lose?
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