Going bananas

This week we go bananas, but before doing so, here are a couple of questions from readers that you may be able to help with – and a tip.

Warren from Tauranga asks, “Does anyone know how to kill aphids on a swan plant bush, without killing the caterpillars?” If you can help out Warren, please drop us a note and we will pass it on.

Sarah from Hamilton asks, “Does anyone have any ideas for vegetarian main meals that only cost about $4 per person to make?”

And M from Otago shares her tip: “I love using baking soda and vinegar and dishwashing liquid with an essential oil as my cheap cleaning spray.”

Now to bananas – they are cheap to buy and have many uses, so here are some of the suggestions we have received from readers.

Thelomies from Hamilton has this one. “I peel and then freeze over ripe bananas (I buy them cheaper when over ripe). Use the frozen nanas straight from the freezer – pop one into a blender with milk, peanut butter and some honey to make 2 big glass fulls. Whizz it all up into a delicious thick and ice-creamy milkshake – wonderful.”

Mary from forestry town Tokoroa writes, “I make toasted banana and cinnamon sugar sandwiches for dessert with a dollop of vanilla flavoured sweet Greek yoghurt. Cheap and yummy!”

M.H. from Christchurch says, “Ripe bananas, which are great for muffins and banana loaf, can be frozen in their skins (as is) and just defrosted prior to use. I microwave them for a minute before I use them.”

Tex from Christchurch makes a date and banana loaf each week. “3 cups flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1/2 cup rolled oats, 1/2 cup bran flakes, 1/2 cup butter or margarine, 3 teaspoons baking powder, spices – Cassia, mixed spices or others. One overripe banana cut into pieces. I whirl the lot in my food processor and add sufficient water to make a very thick moist mixture. Place in a greased ovenproof dish, and bake for 2 hours in a slow oven. Add or remove ingredients like dates, bran, sultanas or what have you. Makes a large loaf which will last for ages – mine does two of us for a week.”

D.R. from Masterton writes, “When bananas get too ripe, simply put them in the freezer skins and all. They will go black on the outside, but if you unfreeze (lay in a bowl first) and snip off one end, you can squeeze the banana pulp out easily. Pulp is ideal for use in all banana cooking recipes.”

Cathy says, “I bulk buy bananas, peel and cut either in 1/2 or 1/3s. Put them in the plastic bag and put in the freezer, whole. They last pretty well and I slice them up in the morning and cook them directly in my porridge mix.”

A reader from Napier has this suggestion. “To make banana ‘ice cream’, cut up ripe bananas into chunks and freeze them. Take them out of the freezer and straight into the food processor and pulse till smooth and creamy, then serve. You would never be able to tell that it was just frozen banana. It has a beautiful creamy consistency. My kids are dairy and gluten intolerant and they think this banana ice cream is fantastic. I also add other fruits when in season – strawberries go very well with the banana.”

Thirties depression baby from Auckland has this tip. “What to do with lots of bananas. Process peeled bananas which are not too ripe in the blender with very little soy milk until of ice cream consistency and store in small containers in the freezer. (Being allergic to dairy I have not tried using milk.) My home grown bananas, plentiful this season, are quite sweet, but you can of course add a little jam or fruit jelly or honey. This makes a great dessert, much cheaper and healthier than ice cream.”