The amazing X-fruit
I’ve always thought banana’s were amazing (and delicious). As a kid I once wrote a poem for school about how they came in their own packaging with a quick release opening mechanism. (I guess I was a food nerd even then…) I really wish I could find a copy of that writing: I’m sure it would be ridiculous and amusing!
I’ve since learned a lot more about bananas, and they have a really intriguing story. The bananas we eat are a seedless mutation of the wild banana, and, being seedless, are unable to propagate. Which means that all the edible bananas are essentially cloned from the original mutant stock. These X-fruit are, unfortunately, particularly susceptible to disease since, if something comes along that can kill one plant, the genetic uniformity mean all the others are susceptible as well. I understand that the Cavendish bananas we eat today are a replacement of a far tastier Gros Michel banana, which got largely wiped out by disease.
Another interesting factoid is that almost all bananas are picked and shipped green and then ripened in special rooms, where ethylene gas is used to artificially ripen the fruit. As with other produce, they taste much better tree ripened but this almost never happens in our world of industrial food distribution. The bananas I buy at the Green Hill food coop are Equal Exchange bananas, fair trade farmed by small cooperatives in Ecuador and Peru. I swear they taste better too!
Anyway: perhaps my fascination with this fabulous fruit has led me to occasionally purchase more than I could eat, and so sometimes I land up with a banana that has moved well beyond ripe and into blackness. Fortunately overripe bananas are a veritable invitation to make banana bread and I have a recipe I adapted to be used with just one banana (though it doubles and triples easily).
One Banana Bread
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- generous pinch of cinnamon
- generous pinch of teaspoon salt
- 1 medium egg
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 1/2 Tbs vegetable oil
- 1 large mashed over-ripe banana
- 1 Tbs sour cream
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/3 cups walnuts (optional)
- 1/3 cup chocolate chips (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour four mini loaf pans, or muffin tins.
Sift the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt into a bowl. In a separate bowl beat the eggs and sugar at medium-high speed until very thick and pale and mixture forms a ribbon when beater is lifted, about 10 minutes. Add the oil one tablespoon at a time, mixing, then mix in the banana, sour cream, and vanilla. Finally fold in the flour mixture by hand as well as the walnuts and chocolate chips if you are using them.
Divide the batter evenly between pans, and bake in middle of oven until golden brown and a wooden pick or skewer comes out clean, approx 3/4 hours.