Eat 5 A Day for Good Health!
Nutritional and Other Information
About Bananas from
the Barren County Farmers' Market




Eat 5 A Day for Good Health!

Bananas are one of the few fruits that will ripen after it is picked and is much better tasting done this way. Bananas that are going to be exported are picked green, and then usually ripened in ripening rooms when they arrive in their country of destination. These are special rooms made air-tight and filled with ethylene gas to induce ripening.

Bananas can be ordered by the retailer "ungassed", however, and may show up at the supermarket still fully green. While these bananas will ripen more slowly, the flavor will be notably richer, and the banana peel can be allowed to reach a stage where the banana is yellow with brown speckles, but still retains firm flesh inside.

The most common banana brought to the United States is the "Cavendish." It transports well and has a long shelf life.

Eat 5 A Day for Good Health!

Bananas are grown only in tropical areas commercially. The only way you could grow a banana plant in other areas is to grow it in a greenhouse made for such plants or to take it in each winter. Not very cost effective.

The bananas from a group of varieties with firmer, starchier fruit, generally used in cooking rather than eaten raw, are typically known as plantains. Bananas may also be dried and ground into banana flour.

Banana chips are a snack produced from dehydrated or fried bananas. Chips made from plantain slices, have a dark brown color and an intense banana taste. Bananas have also been added to jam. Unlike other fruits, it is difficult to extract juice from bananas because, when compressed, a banana simply turns to mush and "banana jelly" is unheard of.

Bananas and plantains are a major staple food crop for millions of people in developing countries. In most tropical countries, green or unripe bananas used for cooking, are the ones most grown. Cooking bananas are used very much like potatoes. Both can be fried, boiled, baked or chipped and have similar taste and texture when served. One green cooking banana has about the same calorie content as one potato.

Selecting a quality product

The flavor and texture of bananas are affected by the temperature at which they ripen. Bananas are refrigerated to between 57 and 59 F during transportation. At lower temperatures, the ripening of bananas stops, and the bananas will turn pale looking. Some people think they have been frozen and are not good. This doesn't usually hurt them too much but it sure will look funny.

When choosing a ripe banana, choose a plump yellow banana with brown flecks. Avoid any with blemishes.

Tips on Storage

Green bananas can be bought and allowed to ripen at home on the countertop, or they can be placed in a brown paper bag with holes pierced through it. Refrigeration is not necessary and, as described above, may even make the bananas turn a funny color.

Tips on cooking

Once peeled, a banana will turn brown fast. To avoid this from happening, drizzle the banana with lemon juice. Over-ripe bananas may be frozen in a plastic bag until enough bananas have been saved to make banana bread. You can also mash the bananas and freeze the pulp. Thaw before using.




Recipes

Banana and Mango Bread

1 cup butter
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
3 eggs
3 cups self-raising cake flour
1/2 tps salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 cup mashed ripe bananas
1 small ripe mango, peeled and pureed
1 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

In a bowl, cream the butter with sugar until fluffy; beat in eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. In another bowl, combine self-raising flour with salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Combine mashed bananas with mango puree. Mix the dry ingredients and banana mixture, alternately, into the creamed mixture until batter is just combined; fold in raisins and nuts. Pour batter into 2 greased 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 - 60 minutes or until cake tester inserted in the centre tests done. Leave in pan for 10 minutes; remove from loaf pans and let cool on racks. Makes 2 loaves.




Banana Nut Cheesecake

10 servings

1 cup chocolate wafer crumbs
1/4 cup margarine, melted
16 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup mashed ripe bananas
2 large eggs
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup milk chocolate chips
1 tb margarine
2 tb water

Combine crumbs and margarine; press onto the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake at 350 degrees F., 10 minutes. Combine cream cheese, sugar and banana, mixing at medium speed on electric mixer until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in walnuts, pour over crust. Bake at 350 degrees F., 40 minutes. Loosen cake from rim; cool before removing rim pf pan. Melt chocolate pieces and margarine with water over low heat, stirring until smooth. Drizzle over cheesecake. Chill.




Thai Banana Salsa

(6 servings)

1 lg firm-ripe banana
1 tsp Oriental sesame oil
1/2 cup chopped golden raisins
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp grated lemon peel
1 tsp japanese chili spice

1. Peel and halve lengthwise banana. In a nonstick 10-12" frying pan over high heat, brown banana well in sesame oil, about 8 minutes.

2. Chop banana. Mix with raisins, cilantro, lemon peel and Japanese chili spice.




African Banana Peanut Cake

YIELD: 6 to 8 servings.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
2/3 cup butter or margarine; softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
4 lg bananas (very ripe); peeled and mashed
1 cup salted peanuts (divided); coarsely chopped

Combine flour, baking poder, salt and baking soda. Cream softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy; beat in eggs. Add dry ingredients alternately with mashed bananas just until combined; sir in 1/2 cup chopped peanuts. Scrape batter into well-greased 9" x 5" loaf pan; sprinkle top evenly with remaining chopped peanuts. Bake in 350-degree F. oven 60 to 65 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes; turn out of pan and cool completely. Wrap in plastic wrap or foil. Cake is best if served next day.




Fried Plantains

2 plantains
Vegetable oil for frying

Cut plantains into about 1/2 inch slices. Fry for several minutes in hot oil, until slices begin to turn golden (not too dark), and they are beginning to get tender. They do not need to be really soft at this point.

Take slices out of oil and drain on a paper towel. Move to a sturdy surface like a cutting board and smash the slices down with the bottom of a cup. The point is to make them smash down to about 1/2 their original height, not to get them really thin.

Throw back into hot oil and fry again, until they get more tender, maybe 1 to 2 minutes on each side. Take out of oil, drain, sprinkle with salt and serve.




Plantain And Pepper Stuffing - Mofongo

4 slices bacon; diced
1 lg ripe plantain; peeled, and cut into 1/2" cubes
2 garlic cloves; peeled and chopped
1 sm red pepper; seeded and chopped
1 anaheim chile; seeded and chopped
1/2 bunch oregano; chopped
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 slices country bread; diced and dried
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Over medium-high heat, saute the bacon until crisp. Remove from the pan. Place the plantains in the pan and cook until lightly browned. Add the garlic, peppers and oregano and cook 2 to 3 minutes more. Pour in the chicken stock to deglaze the pan, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the bread, salt and pepper. Stir gently to combine. This recipe yields enough stuffing for a 3 to 4 pound chicken.

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