Friday, February 14, 2014

5 Ways to Use Up Overripe Bananas

Smoothie ice lollies with banana and berries
I don’t know about you but in our family bananas are an all or nothing thing. Either the whole bunch gets eaten within two days of my weekly shop or else it sits there, forgotten, until it quickly crosses the line that my family consider to be no longer edible; i.e. skin slightly freckled, flesh slightly soft and sweet, what anyone else would consider perfectly ripe.

But once it reaches that point of perfect ripeness no-one would even consider slicing it onto their cereal or even mashing it into yoghurt for breakfast. I have to resort to cunning and stealth before the poor rejected fruit dwindles into a soggy weeping pulp in the bottom of the fruit bowl.

Luckily there are so many things that you actually need overripe bananas for that it isn’t too hard to use them up. However I’m often too low on brain power to remember them just at the right time, so I thought I’d share those 5 ways with overripe bananas here, in case you also get stuck.

Banana bread
Yes the same old, same old, answer when the whole bunch turns black and you have to use up four bananas all at once. But it’s good and easy and delicious and you can use up bananas that really are on the verge of translucent and liquid (don’t tell my kids that though!) This is the banana bread recipe I’ve been using for years, one of the first recipes I posted on this blog, and without a photo too.

In berry season we go mad with smoothies, using up all our slightly too ripe strawberries in lashings of smoothie goodness. Bananas are the perfect foil for the strawberry acidity, giving the resulting smoothie a thicker smoother texture and a full sweetness that doesn't need any extra sugar. Out of berry season I use the stash of berries from the freezer more sparingly, both strawberries and youngberries, adding them to whatever other fruits are in season and about to go past the point of perfect ripeness, including those squishy bananas of course.. Today it was a mango that needed bits cutting out of it, the other day some nectarines.

Nobody needs a recipe for a smoothie, but ours tend to have a good dollop of natural yoghurt and some milk to bring them to the right drinkable consistency. This picture is from when the girls had friends over and they decided to go the whole hog decorating their smoothies. They were more of a dessert to eat with spoon, but that makes them even better!

Fruit ice lollies
Home-made fruit ice lollies are great to have in the freezer when the kids get home from school on a hot summer day. If I was super-mom I’d have them ready every day, but as I’m not it’s an occasional flash of brilliance rather than a regular occurrence. But I made them today with my berry smoothie mixture and am just keeping fingers crossed that they’ll have frozen hard enough by the time the kids are home as a Valentine’s Day treat.

This batch of five lollies was made with 1 ripe banana, ½ an overripe mango, ½ cup of frozen strawberries, ½ cup of frozen youngberries, ½ cup of yoghurt. Whizzed till smooth in the food processor and spooned into ice lolly moulds. That's the picture of them up top, and they froze hard in two hours, just in time to counter the back from school snack desperation.

Yoghurt muffins
Muffins that include yoghurt and oats have to be healthy, even more so with a mashed up banana and some berries or apple chunks inside. These are one of my snack stand-bys for when the kids have friends over, as they’re easy to throw together and are good and sustaining too. I like them best on the day they’re made, but they last well and don’t dry out. The only downside is that they only need one mashed banana. Here's the yoghurt oat muffin recipe and this is from when I first discovered the joys of these outrageously healthy muffins.

Buttermilk pancakes
These are my only concession to making cooked breakfasts, usually brought out when the kids have friends sleeping over, or for weekends when I’m feeling all halo-ish. The banana really does have to be nice and soft for these little pancakes, so you positively want them overripe. Here is the pancake recipe, which originally comes from Nigella's Feast

What do you do when you have a bunch of overripe bananas? Do share your favourite recipes in the comments. I'm always looking for new things to try!