Cooking with Banana/Plantain Banana/Plantain Musa acuminata , Musa balbisiana
Florida bananas are NOTHING like the bland, flavorless bananas that you buy at the grocery store. These bananas have hints of citrus or strawberries or pineapples! These bananas have been grown with the emphasis on flavor and not for transportation traits, such as a thick peel.
We grow three different types of bananas here in sough Florida:
Dessert - slightly curved, sweet bananas that are common in the stores. Used in desserts, smoothies and banana bread.
Plantain - long, deeply curved bananas, that are not very sweet. When green, plantains are used to make tostones. When very ripe and dark brown, these are made into maduros.
Cooking - stout, straight bananas, that are slightly sweet. They can be used as sweet bananas, or as plantains.
Choose how you want to use your bananas, and select accordingly.
Bananas are a fruit that are available at the market in a ripe and ready-to-eat stage, or in a green and unripe stage. Whether selecting dessert, cooking, or plantain bananas, look for fruits that are free from soft spots that might indicate rot. Check underneath the banana where it sits for any bruising and avoid.
To ripen any type of banana, just keep it on the counter - not in the refrigerator - and wait until it is at the right stage for its intended use. Usually, dessert bananas eaten fresh will be completely yellow when ready to eat. Bananas used for breads are best when starting to get speckles and turn a little brown. Plantains that will be made into tostones are not allowed to ripen and are used green. If you want maduros for your meal, use the darkest plantains.
Open Florida bananas the same way you have been opening other bananas all these years! If using green bananas, you may find it easier to use a knife to cut off both ends, score through the peel down it's length, and then remove the peel.
Remember, do NOT store an UNRIPE bananas in the refrigerator. They will never ripen well. Let them ripen on the counter, and use them when ready. You can keep ripe bananas in the refrigerator in a plastic bag, but there is some loss in quality.
Bananas can be frozen with little flavor loss, but the texture will be affected. So if you want to freeze banana pulp for use in banana bread or puddings, peel and mash banana pulp, measure out the quantity for your recipe, and freeze in a plastic freezer bag. The pulp will last at least a year. Whole bananas also freeze very well and can be used like popsicle treats. Freezing bananas for maduros and tostones is not very successful as the texture changes too much for those uses.
Counts and Weights
A medium size banana will yield about 1/3-1/2 c of pulp.
One cup of banana pulp (about 2-3 bananas) contains:
.7 grams fat
2.5 grams protein
51 grams carbohydrate
800 milligrams potassium
6 grams fiber
Source: USDA NDB Number: 09040
Use Florida bananas in any banana recipe but expect a more intense banana flavor. You won't need to use artificial banana flavoring in your recipes!
Use only green plantains or cooking bananas for this recipe.
Heat about 1/2'' cooking oil in fry pan to about 300 degrees. Peel green bananas and cut into 1" - 1 1/2 " thick chunks. Fry in oil until soft, about 3-5 minutes. Remove bananas from oil, place on paper towels to drain and cool slightly. Use a tostonera press or a brown paper bag folded over and smash the fried bananas to about half their thickness. Return the smashed banana to hotter oil (about 375 degrees) and fry to a golden brown for just a few minutes. Remove from oil to paper towels to drain. Season with salt.
Use only very dark brown or black plantains or cooking bananas.
Heat about 1/4" of oil in a fry pan to the temperature where a drop of water sizzles. Peel the dark plantains and slice about 1/4" thick on the diagonal. Add the slices to the oil and fry until a rich brown color. Flip and fry until brown. Remove from oil. Drain, and add salt if desired.
1 c. flour 1 T. baking powder
1 c. sugar 4 Thai bananas, sliced
1 c. milk additional sugar and cinnamon, if desired
1/2 c. melted butter or margarine
Pour melted butter into an 8" baking dish. Mix all ingredients except bananas in a bowl. Pour mixture over melted butter or margarine. Slice bananas and drop into batter.
Bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees until top is brown. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar if desired. Add whipped topping, if desired.
recipe from Steeles Tropical Fruit Company, Local Flavor: Recipes Raised in the Florida Redland
Thai Banana Nut bread
1 stick butter, softened 1 1/2 c. flour, sifted
1 c. sugar 1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt 1 t. baking soda
2 eggs 3 ripe Thai bananas
1 t. vanilla extract 1/2 c. chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a loaf pan.
Cream butter, sugar, salt and eggs together. Add vanilla. In separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda and baking flour, then add to butter mixture. Add Thai bananas and nuts. Mix. Pour into greased and floured pan and bake for 50-55 minutes.
recipe from Cindy LaPradd, Local Flavor: Recipes Raised in the Florida Redland