That is the question I faced when the banana fairy (also known as my MIL) visited the same day the grocery deposited my “oopsie too big” of an order. I do not think very many people are as lucky as I to have a banana fairy, where you could never be fast enough to buy your OWN bananas, let alone even jot them down on the grocery list. A couple FAQs I can imagine people asking:
- Does the banana fairy bring other yellow fruits? No, just bananas. But sometimes she brings savory entrees that are yellow.
- Does the banana fairy have wings and a magic wand? Nope. She wears socks with sandals.
- Does the banana fairy leave evidence of other magic around the house? Yes, she sweeps with the inefficient “Asian” broom that sheds.
- Does Mason the Dog try to bite the fairy? He would not dare. He would get smacked right quick. Oh wait, he gets smacked if he is good too.
- Does the banana fairy fly from the magic produce stand to the house? No, she drives a Toyota from Renton but does sit on a special pillow to reach the pedals
The challenge: avoid spoiling the bunch.
Situation: 18 bananas weighing in at over six pounds of bananas; the bunch made up of 14 fresh and 4 frozen (so much easier when making banana bread)
The Remedy: Banana bread x 4 variations, banana butter and a few for original indication (breakfast, almost forgot)
Banana Bread – The Recipe (adapted from Flour Bakery in Boston)
- 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup oil [I used coconut oil – yumm]
- 3 1/2 bananas, very ripe is best, mashed (try a potato masher; if frozen, defrost and squeegee out of the peel)
- 2 tablespoons creme fraiche, sour cream or plain yogurt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup walnuts, toasted (added bonus, not required) and chopped (or whatever nut you want or don’t!)
Set oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of a loaf pan with parchment paper, use paper pans or place muffin papers in the tin. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Beat sugar and eggs with a whisk until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes. Drizzle in oil. Add mashed bananas, creme fraiche, and vanilla. Fold in dry ingredients and nuts. Pour into a lined loaf pan and bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. If making muffins or using mini-loaf pans – bake for about ½ the time and check for doneness with a toothpick. Made about 3 mini loafs and 3-4 muffins per batch
Need a trick to measure out the coconut oil, given that it is solid like shortening at room temp. Sure you could nuke the whole thing, but don’t! Or spoon out and mash into measuring cup. Easier and more accurate – Use the water displacement method – that EVERYONE SHOULD have learned in junior high home economics. Grab your liquid measuring cup (I like the 2 cup one). Fill with a known quantity of cold tap water, for this example I used 1 cup. Scoop out coconut oil and plop into water. Eyeball the desired amount when scooping but then fine tune it by watching the water level rise by the SAME amount you wish to have of the coconut oil. For this recipe the goal is ½ cup, so I put in enough to raise the water to 1 ½ cups. Do be sure that it is all submerged. When measured out, scoop out, drain water and add to recipe. I show the final in a measuring cup for proof, you don’t have to do that. If you are using virgin coconut oil, the light coconut flavor adds to the overall recipe. You can also use refined, which is lacking the suntan oil aroma. Try a spoonful of the virgin stuff straight up or melt some in your coffee with cream. Yum! And good for you too – look it up.
- Bananas with ½ – 1 tsp ground cardamom (can be potent!), pinch cinnamon (or omit) and unsweetened coconut flakes (yellow muffin papers)
- Bananas with ¼ cup chopped candied/crystallized ginger (and a bigger chunk on top) and unsweetened coconut flakes, touch of nutmeg, cinnamon (brown muffin papers)
- Bananas with 1 cup grated carrot and ½ cup (or so, not specific) dried cranberries (gluten free flour, blue papers)
Bananas with salted caramel and ~ ½ cup chopped walnuts
- Melted Trader Joe’s salted caramels and incorporated into the batter when all wet ingredients in. It wanted to cool and harden real quick, so NEXT time I might just put half a caramel in the middle of the muffin tin for each one.
Banana Butter with Cointreau
- 3 ½ pounds bananas, peeled and chopped into small pieces
- 1 ½ cups packed light brown sugar
- ¼ cup lemon juice (not fresh squeezed as acid is important)
- 1 tsp butter
- Optional ½ cup plus Cointreau or other spirit
- Optional: 1/8 tsp ground cardamom and/or 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
- Note: some recipes will call for 1.75 ounces (3.5 tablespoons) of fruit pectin, go for it if you want
Place ingredients in medium pot and cook over medium to medium-high heat for 20-30 minutes, stirring often. The bananas will break down and you can help them by mushing. The alcohol will all but cook off. I did a taste test after a while and add a little more Cointreau Ladle into hot jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Process 10 minutes. I did have issues with my jars sealing so ultimately I tossed them in the freezer and will defrost them as needed.
What would one do with banana butter? Just what you would do with apple or plum or pear butter. Spread on toast, eat with a spoon, sauce for dessert pizza or tart, spread on banana bread (whoa, mind blown), waffles, crepes or add to ice cream. The Cointreau (one of my fave spirits) adds a nice orangey flavor and makes it a tad more adult. You could also do rum, bourbon, a flavored vodka, or not spirits (just vanilla). Some browning will occur, but they are still bananas after all…