Who said you couldn’t grow bananas in a non-tropical location? Yes, they get hammered by New Zealand’s Wintery blasts, but they are real hardy guys! Come Spring, they bounce back and sprout forth again. Did you know that a banana palm is closely related to ginger? Strange but true. We planted the variety Misi Luki (or Lady’s Finger), which comes from Samoa. Banana propagate themselves by sending up little suckers at the base of the parent plant. That is how we ended up with two banana groves.
Did you know that bananas are a powerhouse of nutrients?? They contain a good deal of fibre (help you to eliminate waste), and are a great source of potassium, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, magnesium, copper, manganese and have a small amount of protein. And let’s not forget that they are the Signature food for Men’s health. The law that food which looks like a certain body part, feeds that particular body part, health-wise. Get my meaning? No? Okay, then just feed your man bananas!! You will be happy you did.
This blog is less about caring for your bananas, and more about what to do with them when they produce! A bunch of bananas is harvested when they have filled out, look less angular and more rounder, and are starting to colour up ever so slightly. Leave them a day or two longer and all the resident birds will have already started snacking on them!
So once, the heavy bunch has been cut (be warned, it can weigh up to 20kg!) and hung in a warm dry place, the bananas can be harvested in hands (a group of about 12 grow together in layers down the stem) and allowed to ripen up. Misi Luki are great eating bananas, the flesh is much firmer and sweeter than store bought bananas. They make great smoothies, and of course, our favourite Bananarama Bread!!
- 1 1/2 cup cake flour
- 1 cup raw sugar
- 6-7 ripe bananas (or 3 store bought ones), mashed
- 1 tspn baking soda
- 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1/2 tspn cardamom powder
- 1 tspn vanilla essence
- Pinch salt
- 1/4 cup soy or nut milk
- Preheat oven to 175 degC
- Melt coconut oil and add to mashed bananas.
- Add rest of ingredients except flour and mix well.
- Sift flour in and blend all ingredients to a workable consistency. Add more milk if it is too stiff. Take care not to overmix.
- Pour batter into a greased loaf tin and bake for 45-50 mins. Test if cooked through by inserting a bamboo skewer into the middle. If it emerges free of “goopy batter” it is ready to come out of the oven. Allow to cool for 10 minutes then place on a cooling rack.
What I like about this recipe is that it is dead easy, as I am not known for my baking ability and yes, this is a win every time for me!! It is moist, fragrant and sweet. It lasts about 3 days ( if you don’t have guests) and can be “freshened up” in the toaster, with a smearing of vegan butter after day 4. Nothing goes to waste!
So yes, you too can grow your own backyard bananas, even in an Oceanic climate like we have in New Zealand. Just be prepared to give it some space to grow (around 3m squared). Some feeding during spring and summer will prepare your kitchen for a banana glut. They produce in 18- 20 months and will keep reproducing new palms to take over from the spent ones (the ones that have already fruited). You will never enjoy another store bought banana again!!