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Don’t throw away those black bananas

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Use them for baking instead! Image from www.sxc.hu

Use them for baking instead! Image from www.sxc.hu

I’ve recently become very appreciative of the simple banana, a fruit I neglected for years.  I don’t know what was wrong with me – there are few things nicer than a banana at the perfect stage of slight under-ripeness, with a tinge of green in the skin and firm pale yellow flesh.  They’re tasty, filling and ludicrously good for you, containing loads of potassium, calcium, iron, vitamin C and fibre.   A banana and a coffee has become my staple breakfast over the last year or so.

But while there are few things better than a good banana, there are few things more off-putting than an over-ripe, black banana.  The texture, the colour, the horrible over-sweet flavour. Gag.  But all is not lost – they are absolutely perfect for baking.  The sweetness in them becomes concentrated, and because they are so  mushy, they’re easy to mix into various batters.

I buy a lot of bananas now for myself and my little girl, and am frequently stuck with over-ripe ones.  I’ve been trying out lots of different recipes that use bananas, somewhat undermining my healthy intentions by producing cakes and buns, but what the hell.  Some of the best ones that I’ve found so far are:

I’ve also tried out a couple of healthy Banana Oat Muffin recipes, from various food sites, but have yet to find one that is worth doing a second time.  If anyone has any recipes for baking with bananas, particularly healthy treats, please do share them here.

Two more things about over-ripe bananas:

I’ve heard that bananas freeze well, so if you see some bananas starting to turn spotty, you could try throwing them in your freezer and using them in smoothies at a later date.  I don’t have room in my freezer, but would love to hear if it works.

My mother tells me that when she was little, her grandmother made her eat black bananas because she said they were more nutritious that way.  Are there are any proper food scientists out there who know whether there’s anything to this theory?  The internet, shockingly, only seems to have ill-informed speculation on the subject.

19 Comments

  1. Here’s a good healthy banana muffin receipe from Donal Skehan, seperating the eggs and mixing in the beaten egg whites like he suggested seems to make a difference, they’re a bit lighter than the usual healthy ones.
    I subsiture the blueberries for whatever berries I have to hand.

    http://www.thegoodmoodfoodblog.com/2009/10/blueberry-and-banana-breakfast-muffins.html

  2. Here is another idea for using bananas – I saw it on a blog I read yesterday – looks delicious – http://www.camemberu.com/2010/03/kuih-kodok-or-godok-pisang-banana.html

  3. Jean, Anthony Worrell -T. says that you can cut a banana in two, stick a lollipop stick in each, put in freezer – and you have 2 banana ice-pops. Haven’t tried it, but I intend to. Sounds both healthy and nutritious.

  4. My mother told us that bananas should be eaten black as they’re more digestible – the yellow one is unripe still. Though I think she was just trying to con us into using up the black bananas…..

  5. Never heard of black bananas being better for you, sounds like a con alright…
    I thing bananas should be sliced prior to being frozen but I’m not sure. If frozen sliced on a tray they can be bagged later and will not stick, then they can be used in smoothies and no need for ice cubes.

  6. Annabel Karmel has a really good recipe for banana muffins http://www.annabelkarmel.com/recipes/healthy-recipes/banana-muffins
    i work with people with special needs and we make them regularly in our cookery classes and i find them just as tasty as a regular muffin.

  7. Hi Jean,

    Bananas freeze extremely well, I’ve had best success by peeling them first and wrapping in clingfilm before putting them in the freezer.

    I read a great tip recently,take a frozen banana out of the freezer before you have your dinner. By the time your done it will have softened slightly, pop it in a blender with a drop of milk and you get delicious banana ice-cream! Seriously, you don’t have to add anything else, I’ve even put it into cones for my kids and they love it.

    If you get sick of banana bread you can use a mashed up banana for flapjacks as well, delicious and chewy :)

  8. Riper bananas are certainly more digestible. I never eat bananas less ripe than that one in the image above, anything yellowyer and i get serious indigestion.
    My favourite thing to do w/ bananas is slice them mup and put them on hot toast with loads of butter. Delicious. And with the overripe ones, you dont need to add honey like ive seen others do…

  9. can’t stand bananas, but I buy them for my little one. When they go black, I cook them in butter and sugar, or I make banana brownies

  10. I have a mashed banana with honey on brown bread every morning, It’s actually gorgeous. I think banana bread is definitley the best bet for black bananas. Try saying that fast!

  11. Yeah bananas on toast are a winner alright. I love them with peanut butter. Thanks for all the recipes and tips follks, I did a gorgeous banana and coconut bread over the weekend and will try out the other suggestions here as well.

  12. The girlfriend makes the Avoca Banana bread, unbelievable!

  13. You can use mashed ripe bananas instead of eggs in recipes too, which is handy if you don’t eat eggs!

  14. Lilly,
    “a mashed banana with honey on brown bread every morning” is an overload of carbs! Just heard a podcast from Patrick Holford at RTE radio and he says you should avoid (or modify) this sort of breakfast!
    If you want to have a listen:
    http://www.rte.ie/podcasts/2010/pc/pod-v-16041018m53stodaywithpatkenny.mp3

  15. Patrick Holford is widely regarded as a massive quack (and that’s putting it mildly):

    http://holfordwatch.info/
    http://www.badscience.net/category/patrick-holford/

  16. Maybe… don’t know much about the guy… but on this particular point I think most nutritionists would agree…

  17. ‘Nutritionist’ means absolutely nothing – it’s not a protected title (unlike, for example doctor or dentist – or dieticitian). Anyone can call themselves a nutritionist and talk on radio about what people should be eating, but it doesn’t mean they know anything about it. Holford goes beyond not knowing anything about it, and actively gives bad advice… which sometimes conveniently steers people towards his own range of ‘healthy’ food products. He doesn’t care about your health – he’s a businessman. And I’m a nutritionist (I have recently decided).

  18. Why are carbs so bad anyway? I have lost a good bit of weigh over the past few months and Im eating spuds and pasta than ever.

  19. oh well… I give up them… but I would rather not eat sugar on top of sugar first thing in the morning, just in case. (sigh)

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