Even though Abby Slutsky owns a bakery business, she likes to find a balance between nutritional foods, interesting side dishes, and sweets.
A Brief History
Some time ago, bananas were not readily available in the United States. This tropical fruit was first widely imported by Minor Cooper Keith and Andrew Preston under their company name, Boston Fruit Company. The original company underwent multiple names, but is now known as Chiquita.
When bananas first debuted in the United States, at the end of the 1800s, they were considered an expensive, luxury fruit. Despite their costly start in America, today they are one of the country’s cheapest fruits.
Why Are Bananas So Appealing?
Like many Americans, I have a particular appreciation for bananas because of their price and year-round availability. In addition, it is easy to tell how ripe they are by their color, so I rarely peel a banana to find that it is not as expected. Since their skin is thick, they are very portable for packed lunches and picnics. Best of all, I love the versatility of bananas when eating them; they are delicious at room temperature, frozen, or hot.
Banana Chips (Room Temperature)
Although I usually just peel and eat room temperature bananas, I occasionally dehydrate them. This makes them leathery and sweet, and they will last several weeks in an airtight container. (Purchased banana chips are usually crunchy.) My oven happens to have a dehydrating setting, but you do not need a dehydrator to make dehydrated fruit. It requires long cooking times at a low temperature.
- 2 thinly sliced bananas (sliced in rounds)
- Juice from 1 lemon
- Nonstick spray
- Preheat the oven to 200°F.
- Squeeze juice of one lemon into a bowl.
- Line a cookie sheet with parchment.
- Spray the parchment lightly with nonstick spray.
- Lay the banana rounds on the parchment, so they do not touch.
- Using a pastry brush, coat the banana slices with lemon juice on both sides.
- Bake the banana chips for 1 hour.
- Flip them, and bake them another hour. Check them after 30 min to ensure they are not getting overdone. Bananas should darken, and start to look leathery.
- Remove them from the oven. They should get firmer as they cool.
You can enjoy banana chips by themselves, or add them to your favorite nut or granola mix. They are also delicious stirred into plain yogurt with a dash of cinnamon.
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Chocolate Banana Smoothie (Frozen)
When I freeze bananas, I usually use them for smoothies, but sometimes I make banana whip, too. Peel bananas before you freeze them. Cut them in half, and store them in sealable freezer bags.
- ½ cup crushed ice or more, depending on how thick you prefer it
- 6 ounces skim or unsweetened almond milk
- 1 scoop chocolate protein powder
- ½ frozen banana (overripe is ok)
- 1 tablespoon plain yogurt
- Put all the ingredients in a heavy-duty blender.
- Blend on high for about 2 minutes.
- Check the thickness of the smoothie. If you need to add a small amount of milk or ice to adjust the thickness, do so.
I prefer a thick, milkshake-like consistency. Blend the mixture another minute, if needed. This drink is best served immediately.
Banana Whip (Frozen)
More recently, some ice cream stores are offering banana whip instead of ice cream. It is a creamy confection with a texture similar to ice cream. However, it does not have added sugar.
- 7 frozen bananas
- 1 tablespoon almond milk (optional 2 additional tablespoons, if needed)
- Put all ingredients in a blender.
- Blend on high until very smooth. If your blender is having trouble, add a few extra tablespoons of almond milk one tablespoon at a time. The mixture should be very thick.
- Put the banana whip in a sealable container, and freeze it for at least 3 hours.
Variations: Swirl some peanut butter through the banana whip before freezing it. Fold some shaved chocolate into the banana whip.
Caramelized Bananas (Warm)
Warm or hot bananas are soft and sweet. The subtle sweetness of the bananas is balanced by caramelization and, if desired, a hint of cinnamon. These warm bananas are delicious on French toast, waffles or pancakes. You can also liven up a plain bowl of ice cream by topping it with caramelized bananas.
- 1 banana, sliced into rounds, less than ¼ inch, but not paper-thin
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1½ tablespoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
- Put the sugar on a plate. If desired, mix in the cinnamon.
- Lay the banana slices on the sugar (or cinnamon mixture), and turn them to fully coat them.
- Melt the butter in a medium frying pan. Place the banana slices in the pan, and cook them over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes. They should be slightly brown.
- Serve immediately.
© 2020 Abby Slutsky