Summer’s featured ingredient is bananas!
Bananas are a favorite fruit all over the world, not only as a sweet snack, but as a savory food stable, and a slippery source of comedy.
Bananas are believed to have been first domesticated in Papua New Guinea and Southeast Asia, possibly as early as 8000 BCE. Bananas were introduced to the Americas by Portuguese sailors who brought the fruits from West Africa in the 16th century. The word banana is of West African origin.
Wild bananas are filled with large hard inedible seeds. Through their domestication, the seeds have become much smaller and edible. Many fanciful varieties have been developed. They can have skins that are pink and fuzzy or have green and white stripes, flesh the color of orange sherbet, aromas that are said to be smelled “from the next mountain.” Some varieties produce bunches of a thousand bananas, each only an inch long, while the rhino horn bananas are believed to be the longest, reaching up to 2 feet in length. 1
The top 4 producers of bananas in the world are commonly India, Uganda, China, and the Philippines. The top 4 exporters are commonly Ecuador, Costa Rica, Colombia and the Philippines.
During the ripening process, bananas produce a plant hormone called ethylene, which stimulates the formation of amylase, an enzyme that breaks down starch into sugar, making the bananas taste sweet. The green, less ripe bananas contain higher levels of starch. In the US, man-made ethylene is used to ripen the green bananas, which are easier to transport. Ethylene also signals the production of pectinase, an enzyme which breaks down the pectin between the cells of the banana, causing the banana to soften as it ripens.
Bananas are eaten many different ways all over the world. Bananas can be eaten raw, flambéed, deep fried, baked in their skin, or steamed in sticky rice wrapped in a banana leaf. They can also be made into jam, chips, or flour.
Backpackers in South Asia often follow the Banana Pancake Trail. This is the nickname for the many growing routes lined with guesthouses, cafes and restaurants catering to backpackers which serve banana pancakes for breakfast.
Many tropical populations eat green bananas and plantains as a staple starch, which taste similar to potatoes. They are simmered in stews and curries, fried, baked or mashed.
Banana plant hearts are used much like artichokes. They are eaten raw, steamed with dips, or cooked in soups, curries and fried foods.
Banana leaves are large, flexible, and waterproof. In a downpour, they can be used as umbrellas. In South Asian and Central American countries, they are often used as a wrapping to steam or grill food, or as plates. In India, leaves are dried and used as packing material and cups.
The banana plant has long been a source of fiber for high quality textiles and paper. In Japan, banana cultivation for fabric dates back to at least the 13th century. Harvested shoots are boiled in lye, spun into yarn, and then made into table clothes and kimonos. In Nepal, the trunk is harvested and cut into small pieces, which are softened, bleached, dried, and woven into rugs with a silk-like texture. 3
Bananas are an excellent source of vitamin B6, soluble fiber, and contain vitamin C, manganese and potassium. Individuals with a latex allergy may also be allergic to bananas. 4
Charlie Chaplin Film Banana Clips:
Listen to some banana-themed music while you prepare your yogurt:
Alternate Production Method 1: Ice Cream Maker Upside: An ice cream maker eliminates the need to freeze the frozen yogurt base into cubes. Simply pour blended base into the ice cream maker, and follow its instructions. Downside: An ice cream maker eliminates the ability to add swirls of berries or other fruits into the yogurt.
Alternate Production Method 2: Blender While a Champion juicer produces the optimal frozen yogurt texture, a good blender will also do the trick. Place frozen yogurt mix cubes (and optional additional frozen fruit chunks) into blender in batches and blend into snowy shavings. Important: Do not add a liquid, as it will cause the cubes to stick together and prevent efficient blending. Scoop shaving into serving dish. Add toppings if desired. Enjoy!
Elvis-style Variation: While processing the frozen yogurt base cubes through the juicer, periodically add large spoonfuls of peanut butter. Top frozen yogurt with sliced bananas, more peanut butter, and a drizzle of honey.
Banana Split Variation: Split 1 peeled banana lengthwise and set in a serving bowl. Spoon frozen yogurt over banana. Top with favorite toppings, traditionally chocolate sauce, whipped cream, cherries and nuts.
Banana Frozen Yogurt
Preparation Time (excluding freezing time): 20 minutes
Yield: 8-10 cups
Frozen Yogurt Base Ingredients:
4 ripe bananas, peeled
2 cups milk
12 ounces Greek yogurt
optional: pinch salt
Optional Frozen Yogurt Swirl-Ins:
frozen berries or fruit chunks
4-6 Ice cube trays
Freezer bags or containers for yogurt base cubes, and optional frozen fruit swirl-ins.
Champion Juicer (if unavailable, see alternate options above)
Spoon or scoop
1. Place bananas, milk, yogurt, and optional vanilla & salt in blender.
2. Blend until smooth.
3. Pour frozen yogurt base into ice cube trays. Leave a little room, so that when the cubes freeze and expand, they will still fit in the mouth of the juicer.
4. Freeze cubes until solid.
5. If not immediately making soft serve, place cubes (and optional frozen fruit swirl-ins) in freezer bags or containers to protect from roaming freezer flavors.
6. Assemble juicer. Place large bowl under exit spout. Remove ingredients from freezer. Turn juicer on and add several cubes. Push cubes through blender.
7. Add more cubes and periodically handfuls of optional frozen fruit one wishes to “swirl-in.”
Spoon into bowls, garnished with optional toppings.