So get this. I went to the fruit stand the other day, looking for a snack. I was buying smoothie fixins at the sale fruit table, when I saw it: a box of about 30 bananas for $0.99! A dollar? Sure, they were ugly, but even if only half were edible, that’s still an insane price. I had to stop myself from buying 2 boxes.
If you’re reading this blog, chances are that you’ve done this kind of thing before. You see a great sale on something, buy too much, and then have it coming out of your ears for months. It’s the same with gardening, you love tomatoes so much you plant 6 plants, and then are finding ways to eat tomatoes with every meal. No? Come on, be honest, we’re all friends here. Learning food preservation has enabled my habit, because now sale food isn’t as likely to go to waste.
It turned out the bananas weren’t as bad as they looked. They were actually slightly under-ripe, with only a few bad spots on the flesh. My guess is that they were unsellable because the peels were covered in brown spots, or were the onesies left over by people breaking off a few from a bunch. I think there was only one that was actually mush.
And as it happens, D doesn’t like bananas. So here I had 30 bananas that I needed to use up all by my lonesome, and I knew just what to do with them… dry them!
I got a wonderful gift this year for Christmas from my S-I-L, a food dehydrator, (plus a great book called The Dehydrator Bible.) I’ve wanted a dehydrator for a year or more, but never felt like shelling out the money for something my oven or the sun could do just as well. But of course, the oven is too hot, and I never use the sun, because I’m not that on top of it. I’d probably forget them outside.
My dehydrator has been great so far. I’ve dried apples, blueberries, pineapples (my favorite!), and bananas. They haven’t all been hits (I don’t recommend Pink Lady apples for drying, they turn into something not unlike Styrofoam), but even when they weren’t great, it was always fun or unexpected. I didn’t dry the blueberries correctly, but I still thought they were really good on oatmeal, little bursts of flavor.
My dehydrator is definitely making it so that I’m seeking out the cheapest fruits, because I know I can extend their life and create lots of great snacks.
The last time I did bananas I got those tiny bananas and sliced them length-wise. This time they were full sized, so I sliced them in rounds (more or less) about 1/3” thick. I let them sit in a bowl of water mixed with lemon juice to keep them from browning while I chopped (and chopped, and chopped). Then I dried them for 8.5-10 hours at 135 degrees.
And now I have banana chips. Lots and lots of banana chips. They are slightly chewy, they should be firm and almost leathery when done, not like those rock hard ones you used to get in trail mix. Some slices took longer than others, but that was easy enough to remedy. I pulled them all off the trays and any that were very squishy got put back in for another hour or so.
Also, I learned from my book that bananas should be removed from the trays when still warm, or they stick. I can attest to this! Also, things the book won’t tell you: my basement smells like bananas, and I’ve had that song lyric “this s**t is bananas, b-a-n-a-n-a-s” in my head all week.
If you want some banana chips, come on over, I’d be happy to share!