The gift of old bananas

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I wish I didn’t love bananas.  I am oddly obsessed with them.  I eat at least one per day, sometimes two.  They travel everywhere.  Pack easily.  Make you feel full in a pinch.  If only they didn’t have to travel so far to get to us.  It’s my major concession in my desire to find local food sources.  There really isn’t any good local substitute for a banana.

I have some friends who haven’t eaten them for years.  I wish I could say that would be possible for me.  I think there are two things I would have a hard time giving up:  bananas and diet brown soda.

As the summer is heating up, they ripen a lot sooner.  My normal “buy bunches and bunches” approach in the winter suddenly starts to seem like a really bad idea.  I’m a person who still likes them a bit green, a little “just ripe.”

After they start to get really yellow and the spots come, they are less palatable to me.  Usually I can get through them before they ripen but this week I must have hit a wall.  It was probably due to all of the other yummy fruit (strawberries, blueberries and pineapple) I was eating, but I had three really old, yucky looking bananas on my counter getting uglier and sweeter by the day.

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Yesterday I turned two of them into banana-chocolate chip muffins.  I have tried a number of recipes over the years, but this one is my favorite.  It’s unfussy and as long as you don’t over bake, almost perfect.  They’re good on day one, day two, and even into day three — almost unheard of in a baked good.

Here’s my simplified recipe:

In a bowl that can go into the microwave melt 6 T of butter.  Using a hand mixer, add and blend in the following into the melted butter:

  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 3/4 t. baking soda
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. vanilla
  • 1/2 c. light brown sugar

This is my cheat since I almost never do as they say in recipes:  mix wet in one bowl and dry in another bowl.  I only want to wash one bowl so I’m almost always mixing the dry active ingredients (like baking powder, soda, salt) into my wet ingredients to ensure they mix well and then dumping in all of the dry all at once.  I’m a lazy baker and mostly it works for me.

Once these are mixed well, I lose the hand mixer and do the rest by hand with a spoon:

  • 1 egg (I do it now so as not to cook in the melted butter)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (whatever you like: semi-sweet, dark, or a combination)

Mix only until barely combined and then split evenly among 12 muffins (either oiled or with paper).  I usually just grease my silicon muffin pans with spray oil and that works great.

They go in a 375 degree oven for 18-20 minutes.  In my oven, depending on the day, 16-18 minutes is perfect.  Let cool 10 minutes and then turn out on to a rack to cool.  If you’re impatient, eat one warm.  They’re really good, but I think the banana flavor comes through better when they’re a little cool or even room temperature.IMG_20140629_161342580

For my remaining banana, I decided to try a new recipe.  I also have lots of buttermilk so I googled recipes using both.  I don’t make a lot of pancakes, but this one sounded especially good:  http://www.kitchentreaty.com/fluffy-banana-pancakes/.

They didn’t disappoint.  Light.  Fluffy.  A little tang from the buttermilk to balance out the sweetness of the banana.new_pancake

Muffins?  Pancakes?  Something else?  I would definitely encourage anybody with an old banana or two to get into the kitchen to whip up something yummy.

 

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