Go Bananas!

Go Bananas!

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Those of us who live the self-sustaining lifestyle are usually very frugal when it comes to “waste not, want not.” Now lots of folks are jumping on the bandwagon, so to speak. I think the sheltering in place guidelines suggested during the coronavirus pandemic have a lot to do with it.  

Not being able to run into the grocery whenever it’s convenient has made all of us rethink how to get the most out of the food we consume. And that’s a good thing. 

Take bananas, for instance. Who doesn’t have a few overripe bananas languishing on the counter? In the past, those bananas might have been tossed out, but not anymore. 

Whole ripe bananas can be refrigerated for a few days, or frozen for several months. In fact, you can refrigerate or freeze them right in their skins, or peel if you like. 

The banana skins, if organic, can be chopped up in tiny pieces and mixed in with soil to add potassium and other nutrients to plants. (I like to mix them in well so as not to encourage insects who enjoy them, as well.) 

Banana bread and banana pudding are two of the most popular and requested recipes. I wanted to share these heirloom family favorites. They’re easy enough for the little ones to help. The bonus? They learn good cooking skills along with good common-sense economics! 

BLENDER BANANA BREAD  

Not only unusual, but fun to make. And easy.   

Ingredients 

  • 3 ripe bananas enough to make 1 cup or so puree. 
  • 1 cup vegetable oil 
  • 2 large eggs 
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla 
  • 1½ cups flour 
  • 1 cup sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda  
  • ½ teaspoon salt 
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped in blender (optional) 
  • Little bit of sugar for sprinkling on top (optional)   


Instructions 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
  2. Brush a loaf pan with soft butter. (Or spray with cooking spray.)   
  3. Puree bananas in blender. You’ll need 3 cups. 
  4. Add oil, eggs, and vanilla. Whirl until blended.  
  5. Whisk flour, sugar, soda, salt, and nuts together in a large bowl. 
  6. Pour banana mixture over dry ingredients and mix just until blended. Don’t overmix or you’ll wind up with a less-than-tender loaf. 
  7. Pour into pan, sprinkle with extra sugar, and bake 45 minutes or so until center springs back when lightly pressed.  
  8. Cool on rack a few minutes before removing from pan.  

FAMOUS RESTAURANT BANANA BREAD CLONE 

The addition of buttermilk makes the bread super-moist. The flavor and texture are similar to what restaurant bakeries sell.  

Ingredients 

  • ½ cup butter, room temperature 
  • 2 cups flour 
  • 1 cup sugar 
  • ½ teaspoon salt 
  • 1 teaspoon soda 
  • 3 large eggs, beaten 
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed 
  • ¼ cup buttermilk 
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional) 


Instructions 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Whisk flour, sugar, salt, and soda together. Set aside. 
  3. Cream the sugar and butter on medium speed or by hand until somewhat fluffy. 
  4. Beat in eggs and bananas.  
  5. Add flour mixture a little at a time and blend well. 
  6. Add buttermilk a little at a time. Mix until well blended but don’t overmix.  
  7. Stir in nuts. 
  8. Pour into a greased and floured pan. 
  9. Bake 50-60 minutes or until center springs back when lightly pressed. 
  10. This can also be baked in three small loaf pans (7½ x 5¾ x 2¼) for 35 minutes. 

MY MOM’S NO COOK BANANA PUDDING 

You can double this recipe for a 9×13 pan. If you double the recipe, use the larger box (5 oz or so) of pudding. I put mine in a smaller casserole dish.  

If you only have one cup whipping cream, that’s okay. Use it all in the pudding and none on the top. It will still be yummy. 

Ingredients 

  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened 
  • ½ cup sweetened condensed milk (this is half of the 14 oz can — freeze leftover milk). 
  • 3.5 oz package instant vanilla pudding 
  • 1½ cups milk 
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla 
  • 2 cups whipping cream, whipped, and divided or 16 oz. whipped topping, thawed, and divided 
  • 3 ripe bananas, sliced  
  • About half a box or so of vanilla wafers 


Instructions 

  1. Put cream cheese and condensed milk in mixer and blend well. You can also mix this by hand. 
  2. Whisk pudding mix into milk and vanilla and blend until smooth. Add to cream cheese mixture. Blend well and fold in half the whipped cream or half the whipped topping. Save the other half for garnish. 
  3. Make layers in casserole dish: vanilla wafers, bananas, and the pudding mixture on top.  
  4. Refrigerate at least one hour before serving or up to 24 hours.   
  5. Garnish with whipped cream and more wafers if you like.  

Tip from Rita’s kitchen: 

  • Sprinkle cocoa powder or shaved chocolate on top. 
  • Stir in a couple of handfuls of coconut into the pudding.  


FROM-SCRATCH PUDDING FOR BANANA PUDDING (OR JUST PLAIN!) 

We usually have extra eggs from our “girls”. I love making pudding from scratch. This is a good, basic recipe to eat as is. Or use as a base for banana pudding or coconut pudding. This makes a soft set pudding. 

Ingredients 

  • 1 whole egg and 3 yolks, lightly beaten to blend 
  • 2/3 cup sugar  
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 
  • ½ teaspoon salt 
  • 2 cups milk 
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla 


Instructions 

  1. In a medium-size pan, whisk together sugar, flour, and salt.  
    Whisk in the egg mixture and blend well. 
  2. Slowly stir in milk and whisk well. 
  3. Cook, stirring often, until mixture thickens, about 8-10 minutes.  
  4. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. 
  5. To use later, pour into container and cool. 
  6. Spray a piece of foil, waxed paper, or plastic wrap. Lay sprayed side down onto pudding (this keeps it from forming a “skin”).  
    Refrigerate up to 3 days. 

Tip from Rita’s kitchen: 

  • Sub in ½ teaspoon or so of almond extract for the vanilla. 

 Tip from Rita’s kitchen: 

Freeze extra whites.  

  • Pour into containers or freezer bags. According to the USDA, whites can be frozen up to 12 months. 

How dark can a banana get and still be good to eat? 

  • If you’re going to eat it or use it in pudding, some dark speckles are okay; in fact, the banana is sweeter when a bit riper.  
  • For banana bread, the riper the better. Even if the skin is completely dark, you’re still good to go! 


Originally published in the August/September 2020 issue of Backyard Poultry and regularly vetted for accuracy.

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