Going bananas

Last week we sent out an SOS to the frugal community on behalf of Ruth from Taumarunui and Shelley from Kerikeri, who had asked about the best (that is the best value) place to buying essential oils.

True to form, readers came to the rescue.

Selina from Walton recommends this. “I buy bulk essential oils – orange, eucalyptus, etc, from www.gonative.co.nz. They also have lots of recipes, including making your own skincare. I save a lot buying oils in bulk and making products myself – and you know the ingredients you are using.”


Andrea from Christchurch writes, “I always use www.essentialoil.co.nz for purchasing my essential oils. They have a huge range and they are cheaper than in the shops.”


And Lois says, “Try your local supermarket. I find PakN’Save best – they often have tea tree oil at a reasonable price. Eucalyptus oil, under the brand name “Home Essentials”, can be purchased cheaply from most pharmacies.”


A reader has said they are going bananas about bananas going off so quickly so we have put together some suggestions for using them.


Thelomies from Hamilton says, “I peel and freeze over ripe bananas (I buy them cheaper when over ripe). I then pop a full frozen nana into a blender with milk, peanut butter and some honey – this makes 2 big glasses of delicious thick and ice-creamy milkshake – wonderful!”


Cathy writes, “I bulk buy bananas, peel and cut either in half or a third then put them in a plastic bag and put in the freezer. They last pretty well and I slice them up in the morning and put them directly in my porridge mix.”


Another suggestion is to peel and coat with lemon juice and freeze separately. Once frozen, store in freezer in reusable ice-cream containers. Great for kids’ frozen snacks. If you are feeling creative, spread some chopped nuts on a dish and roll the bananas firmly across the plate before freezing them.


A reader from Masterton says, “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.”


Another trick for overripe bananas is to mash them up, put in small containers, squeeze lemon juice on top and freeze. This is great for banana smoothies, cakes, folded into ice creams, or used in muffin mixes.


A reader says, “To keep bananas from discolouring for a fruit salad – slice and cover with water for 10 minutes. Drain and add to salad.”


For a simple gourmet banana dessert, melt 2 tablespoon butter with 2 cup brown sugar and juice of 2 lemons in a saucepan. Slice 2 or 3 bananas into halves (lengthwise) and place in the saucepan. Cook until tender, sprinkle with cinnamon and serve with ice-cream and whipped cream. Yum!


Try this “no fail” Banana Cake. You’ll need 2 ripe bananas (mashed), 2 eggs, 2 cups of self-raising flour, 1 cup of sugar, 50g of butter, the juice of one large mandarin or orange, 1/2 cup of milk, one tablespoon of cornflour, 2 pinches of salt, 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla essence. Soften the butter in the microwave then add the sugar and cream. Add the eggs and mix well, followed by the flour and cornflour. Microwave the milk for one minute and then stir in the baking soda. Add the two mashed bananas, orange or mandarin juice, salt, and vanilla essence. Mix well then combine with the other ingredients. Pour into a cake tin and bake in a preheated oven at 170 – 180C for approximately 40 minutes.