Fruit of the Week: Plum pt. 2

– Plums grown commercially in Ontario today belong to either Japanese or European types
– Red and yellow plums originate as Japanese types
– Blue plums originate as European types
– Ontario and British Columbia are the only two provinces in Canada that produce plums (and other tender fruits) on a large commercial scale
– The Niagara Peninsula (beneath the Escarpment) is the biggest and most significant plum-growing area in Ontario
– The Niagara Peninsula produces 80% of the plums grown in Ontario
– The counties of Essex and Kent are the second most important plum-growing areas in Ontario and also have the longest season
– The most popularly eaten yellow plums in Ontario are Early Goldens and Shiros, which are available between July and August
– Ontario’s most popularly eaten red plums are Burbank, Ozark Premier and Vanier, which are mainly available in August and September
– Blue plums are typically available until late October

Banana Plum Bread

Banana Plum Bread
Makes 1 9×13 inch cake

Ingredients:
– 1/2 cup white sugar
– 1/2 cup margarine, softened
– 2 eggs
– 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
– 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
– 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
– 1 1/2 cups mashed bananas
– 1 cup plums, pitted and chopped

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish.

2. In a large bowl, mash the sugar and margarine together until creamy, and beat in the eggs. In a separate bowl, sift the flour with baking powder and baking soda. Stir the flour mixture into the egg mixture in thirds, alternating with the mashed bananas until the batter is smooth and well combined. Gently fold in the plums, and place the batter into the prepared baking dish.

3. Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown, about 1 hour.

Fruit of the Week: Banana pt. 5

Preparation and Serving:
– Bananas are cooked in ways that are similar to potatoes (fried, boiled, baked, or chipped and have similar taste and texture when served)
– Bananas are eaten deep fried, baked in their skin in a split bamboo, or steamed in glutinous rice wrapped in a banana leaf
– Bananas can be made into jam
Banana pancakes are popular amongst backpackers and other travelers in South Asia and Southeast Asia
– Banana chips are a snack produced from sliced dehydrated or fried banana or plantain, which have a dark brown color and an intense banana taste
– Dried bananas are also ground to make banana flour
– Extracting juice is difficult, because when a banana is compressed, it turns to pulp
– Pisang goreng, bananas fried with batter, is a popular dessert in Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia
– A similar dish is known in the United Kingdom and United States as banana fritters
– Plantains are used in various stews and curries or cooked, baked or mashed in much the same way as potatoes
– Banana hearts (flower of the banana plant) are used as a vegetable in South Asian and Southeast Asian cuisine, either raw or steamed with dips or cooked in soups, curries and fried foods
– In Indonesian cuisine, banana leaf is employed in cooking method called pepes and botok; the banana leaf packages containing food ingredients and spices are cooked on steam, in boiled water or grilled on charcoal
– The tender core of the banana plant’s trunk is also used in South Asian and Southeast Asian cuisine

Homemade Banana Pudding Pie

Homemade Banana Pudding Pie
Makes 1 9-inch pie

Ingredients:
2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs
3 bananas, sliced into 1/4 inch slices
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
3 egg yolks
2 teaspoons butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 egg whites
1/4 cup white sugar

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Line the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie plate with a layer of alternating vanilla wafer crumbs and banana slices.
3. To Make Pudding: In a medium saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups sugar with flour.
4. Mix well, then stir in half the milk.
5. Beat egg yolks and whisk into sugar mixture.
6. Add remaining milk and butter or margarine.
7. Place mixture over low heat and cook until thickened, stirring frequently.
8. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.
9. Pour half of pudding over vanilla wafer and banana layer while still hot.
10. Make another layer of alternating vanilla wafers and banana slices on top of pudding layer.
11. Pour remaining pudding over second wafer and banana layer.
12. To Make Meringue: In a large glass or metal bowl, beat egg whites until foamy.
13. Gradually add 1/4 cup sugar, continuing to beat until whites are stiff.
14. Spread meringue into pie pan, making sure to completely cover pudding layer.
15. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, just until meringue is browned.
16. Chill before serving.
17. Enjoy!

Fruit of the Week: Banana pt. 4

Selection and Storage:
– Choose bananas based on when you want to use them; greener ones should last for more days, while yellow and brown-spotted bananas should be eaten in a few days
– Ready to eat bananas should be bright yellow, and have a rich fruity fragrance
– Ripe fruit peels off easily
– Ripened, fresh bananas are nutritionally enriched and sweeter in taste than the raw green ones
– Avoid mushy or damaged bananas
– Bananas are non-seasonal and so are available fresh year-round
– Exported bananas are picked green, and ripen in special rooms upon arrival in the destination country
– These rooms are air-tight and filled with ethylene gas to induce ripening
– The vivid yellow color people normally associate with bananas is caused by the artificial ripening process
– The peel of ripe bananas quickly blackens inside a home refrigerator, although the fruit inside remains unaffected
– Unripe bananas can not be held inside home refrigerators because they suffer from the cold
– Ripe bananas can be held for a few days at home
– If bananas are too green, they can be put in a brown paper bag with an apple or tomato overnight to speed up the ripening process

Quick and Easy Baked Bananas with Coconut

Quick and Easy Baked Bananas with Coconut
Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:
4 firm bananas
1 to 2 tablespoons melted butter
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup flaked coconut

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375°.
2. Peel bananas and place in a well greased baking dish.
3. Brush generously with butter and sprinkle lightly with salt.
4. Sprinkle granulated sugar evenly over bananas, then drizzle with lemon juice and sprinkle with coconut.
5. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until bananas are tender.
6. Serve drizzled with syrup or a dessert sauce.
7. Enjoy!

Fruit of the Week: Banana pt. 3

Health:
– Bananas are an excellent source of vitamin B6
– Contain moderate amounts of vitamin C, manganese and dietary fiber
– Although bananas are often thought to have exceptional potassium content, their actual potassium content is relatively low per typical food serving at only 8% of the Daily Value
– A compilation of potassium content in common foods consumed in the United States shows that raw bananas rank 1,611th; some foods with higher potassium content include beans, milk, apricots, carrots, sweet green bell peppers and potatoes
– Banana ingestion may affect dopamine production in people deficient in the amino acid tyrosine, a dopamine precursor present in bananas
– Individuals with a latex allergy may experience a reaction to bananas

Oven Baked Sweet Plantains

Oven Baked Sweet Plantains
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:
4 very ripe plantains (when the skin is yellow with spots of black they’re perfect)
cooking spray

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
2. Coat a nonstick cookie sheet with cooking spray.
3. Cut the ends off of the plantains and peel.
4. Cut each plantain on the diagonal into 1/2 inch slices.
5. Arrange in single layer and coat tops with cooking spray.
6. Bake, turning occasionally, for 10-15 minutes, until plantains are golden brown and very tender.
7. Enjoy!

Fruit of the Week: Banana pt. 2

– The term “banana” is also used as the common name for the plants which grow the fruit
– The banana plant is the largest herbaceous (soft stem and grows for one season) flowering plant
– They are often mistaken for trees, but what looks like a trunk is actually a “false stem”
– Most banana plants are around 16 ft tall, with a range from 10 ft to 23 ft or more
– The leaves may grow 8.9 ft long and 2.0 ft wide
– Banana plant leaves are easily torn by the wind, making the familiar frond look
– Banana leaves are large, flexible, and waterproof and so can be used as umbrellas
– Banana leaves are often used as ecologically friendly disposable food containers or as “plates” in South Asia and several Southeast Asian countries
– Traditionally in Tamil marriages, banana plants are tied on both sides of the entrance of houses to bless the newlyweds to be useful to each other
– In the South Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala in every occasion the food must be served in a banana leaf
– In Tamil Nadu leaves are fully dried and used as packing material for food stuffs and also making cups to hold liquid foods
– The banana fruits develop in a large hanging cluster, made up of tiers (called “hands”), with up to 20 fruit to a tier
– The hanging cluster is known as a bunch, made up of 3–20 tiers, or commercially as a “banana stem”, and can weigh 66–110 lb
– The poet Bashō is named after the Japanese word for a banana plant, the “bashō” planted in his garden by a grateful student became a source of inspiration to his poetry, as well as a symbol of his life and home
– Depending upon cultivar and ripeness, bananas can vary in taste from starchy to sweet, and texture from firm to mushy
– Bananas are naturally slightly radioactive because of their potassium content and the small amounts of the isotope potassium-40 found in naturally occurring potassium
– The banana equivalent dose of radiation is sometimes used in nuclear communication to compare radiation levels and exposures
– In Malay folklore, the ghost known as Pontianak is associated with banana plants (pokok pisang), and its spirit is said to reside in them during the day
– India produces 20% of the world’s bananas followed by Uganda and China
– However, Ecuador exports around 30% of the world’s bananas followed by Costa Rica and Colombia
– Bananas feature prominently in Philippine cuisine, being part of traditional dishes and desserts
– Bananas are also commonly used in cuisine in the South-Indian state of Kerala

Grandma’s Homemade Banana Bread

Grandma’s Homemade Banana Bread
Makes 1 8×4 inch loaf

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 bananas, mashed
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup sour milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Lightly grease an 8×4 inch loaf pan.
3. Combine sugar, butter, bananas, eggs, flour, baking soda, milk, salt and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl; beat well.
4. Pour batter into prepared pan.
5. Bake in a preheated oven for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.
6. Enjoy!

Fruit of the Week: Banana

– A banana is an edible fruit, technically a berry!
– Variable in size, color and firmness
– Usually long and curved, with soft flesh covered with a peel which may be green, yellow, red, purple, or brown when ripe
– Bananas grow in bunches hanging from the top of the plant
– Bananas have a protective outer layer (a peel or skin) with many long, thin strings (the phloem bundles), which run lengthwise between the skin and the fruit
– In cultivated bananas, the seeds are nearly non-existent, what’s left of them is tiny black specks inside the fruit
– A person slipping on a banana peel has been a staple of physical comedy for generations
– Almost all modern bananas come from two species
– Banana plants are native to tropical Indomalaya and Australia
– Are likely to have been first domesticated in Papua New Guinea
– Bananas are grown in at least 107 countries, mostly for their fruit, and sometimes to make fiber, banana wine and banana beer and as ornamental plants
– Banana sap from the stem, peelings or flesh may be sufficiently sticky for adhesive uses
– Worldwide, there is no sharp distinction between “bananas” and “plantains”
– In some countries, bananas used for cooking may be called plantains
– In the Americas and Europe, “banana” usually means soft, sweet, dessert bananas (mainly the Cavendish variety), which are the main exports from banana-growing countries
– The firmer, starchier fruit are called “plantains”
– Bananas and plantains constitute a major staple food crop for millions of people in developing countries
– Most producers are small-scale farmers either for home consumption or local markets
– Because bananas and plantains produce fruit year-round, they provide an extremely valuable food source during the hunger season (when the food from one annual/semi-annual harvest has been consumed, and the next is still to come)
– Bananas and plantains are therefore critical to global food security
– In Burma, bunches of green bananas surrounding a green coconut in a tray form an important part of traditional offerings to the Buddha and the Nats
– The banana plant has long been a source of fiber for high quality textiles
– Banana fiber is also used in the production of banana paper
– Banana paper is made from two different parts: the bark of the banana plant, mainly used for artistic purposes, or from the fibers of the stem and non-usable fruits
– Banana peel may have the capability to extract heavy metal contamination from river water, similar to other purification materials
– In Thailand, it is believed that a certain type of banana plants may be inhabited by a spirit, Nang Tani, a type of ghost related to trees and similar plants that manifests itself as a young woman; often people tie a length of colored satin cloth around the stem of the banana plants

Caramelized Bananas

Caramelized Bananas
Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:
2-3 bananas
4-6 tablespoons granulated sugar (or more)
cooking spray (regular or butter flavor)

Directions:
1. Slice bananas into thick coins or lengthwise strips, depending on your preference.
2. Pour sugar onto a plate.
3. Roll bananas in sugar, until completely coated.
4. Spray a medium size nonstick pan, and heat over medium high heat.
5. Add bananas and sugar.
6. Cook bananas until light to golden brown underneath, about 4-5 minutes (you can lift with a spatula or fork to peek). Be careful not to overcook or burn them (if you smell them browning, or see color in the pan, flip them right away). Keep in mind these times will vary, depending on your stove.
7. Gently flip bananas over to brown other side, turning heat down to medium.
8. The second side will brown in about one minute.
9. Transfer to a plate that has been coated with cooking spray (otherwise they may stick – they are ooey gooey and sticky!) and serve.
10. Alternately, slide them right onto your ice cream or breakfast food.
11. Enjoy!