Photo: Claire Lower
I am, unfortunately, an annoying banana consumer. I like them to be bright yellow and free from any hints of brown or green, though I will choose a freckle or two over a green stem if forced. (Unripe bananas have too many tannins, and those belong in wine.)
Having unreasonable banana standards often leads to me having an unreasonable amount of “mushy” bananas in my kitchen. My boyfriend will eat them if he’s around, but he’s only here half the week, and I don’t enjoy baking (or eating) banana bread all that much. Fortunately, there are many things you can do with mushy, or at least very ripe bananas, none of which involve smoothies or baking.
I haven’t logged into my Pinterest account in half a decade, but there is one recipe that has stuck with me for at least twice that long. Frozen banana “ice cream” does not taste like ice cream, but it does taste much better than it has any right to. I got really into it for a moment when I was living in Florida and going to Weight Watchers meetings (which was a pretty dark time), but I still eat the fake ice cream, sometimes with cocoa powder, sometimes with a splash of vanilla. (You can also shape the frozen “ice cream” into little balls, then roll them around in cereal or chocolate chips before returning to the freezer to make tasty little frozen banana bites.)
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These two-ingredient banana pancakes were also pretty popular on Pinterest, probably because they are naturally gluten-free. I have personally never tried them, but I know several moms who have made them for their children, and the children enjoyed them quite a bit. All you need is bananas, eggs, and some baking powder (optional, but it helps to fluff them up).
You can also make banana pops, another frozen treat that is much more delicious than it has any right to be. The bananas need to be somewhat firm—at least firm enough to have a stick inserted into them and not fall apart. Once you’ve got the stick in, place them on a parchment- or wax paper-lined baking sheet and pop them in the freezer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, make some two-ingredient magic shell . Dip the bananas in the magic shell, sprinkle them with peanuts or sprinkles or whatever, them pop them back in the freezer until the chocolate is fully set.
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Make banana pudding (or a banana pudding milk shake)
If your bananas are very ripe but still a little firm, banana pudding is the way to go. In spite of the name, the pudding portion of banana pudding is usually not banana flavored, but overly-ripe, sweet banana slices are right at home in between layers of custard and Nilla Wafers. You can make it with custard powder or instant pudding mix, or you can get a little ridiculous and sous vide your custard . (Also, don’t overthink it: The recipe printed on the box of Nilla Wafers is outstanding.)
If your bananas absolutely refuse to hold a shape of any kind, toss them in the blender and make a banana pudding milkshake . I guess you could also make a smoothie, but those are markedly less fun.
Try some Australian recipes
I’ll admit that I don’t know much about the cuisine of Australia, but I admire the moxie they display on Australia’s Best Recipes, particularly their recipe for banana meatballs . Adding bananas to meatballs will for sure send your nearest Italian into a tizzy, but I think the move makes sense: Bananas add moisture and sweetness, as well as a nice bit of tropical pizzaz!
The same site also has an easy recipe for banana fritters , which are very similar to the two-ingredient banana pancakes, but, uh, better (because they’re fried). I adore a recipe that includes self-rising flour, which means I am incredibly excited to try the fritters once I get my hands on some mushy bananas. All you have to do is mash the nanners with the flour (and a little extra baking soda), then fry them in oil. Eat them with ice cream.
Make banana ketchup
Banana ketchup is a Filipino sauce that’s delicious on burgers, fried chicken, tortang talong, Filipino spaghetti (which also includes hot dogs), and plain rice. Food52 has a fascinating writeup on the sauce’s origin and creator, Maria Orosa. (Maria was not only the inventor of the popular condiment, but a food chemist and activist.)
I do not have a recipe for banana ketchup (because I am not Filipino), but there are many to be found online, including this one from chef Lou Boquila , and this one from Serious Eats . It’s the perfect way to mix up your banana consumption, especially if you’re tired of baking banana bread.
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What are your favorite ways to use up mushy bananas, and how mushy do you let them get? (Is there anyone out there who likes ‘em green? Please identify yourself in the comments.)