preserving

When Life Hands You…

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Bananas. Lots of bananas. That’s what we have from hurricane Irma. Lucky us, we made it through the storm with minimal damage, except for our poor banana trees:

Poor-tree

We were pretty sure this would happen, so before we evacuated, we cut 4 of the most vulnerable stalks of bananas. Now, in case you don’t know, those clusters of bananas that you find in the market are called a hand, and are just a part of the entire stalk, which can have several hands of bananas.

This stalk has about 100 bananas. These are small bananas called Manzana, or Apple Bananas. Guess what flavor there is an undertone of…

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Right! A tasty banana with a slight apple flavor. Delicious! There is only one problem with a STALK of bananas… they tend to ripen all at once! A hundred or so, ripe bananas is a lot for a family, but we are just 2 people. Even after giving some away, we still have two stalks of bananas. Enough for a Congress of monkeys! (Yes, that is what they are appropriately called!)

In a day or two this is what we had:

ripe-cluster

Don’t let their looks scare you! These are Blue Java or Custard bananas. Yes, they have a sweet creamy flavor. Fortunately, even when they are this ripe they retain firm consistency. Peeled they look like this:

peeled

They are perfectly firm for slicing (and eating). These have a very thin peel and extremely tiny, rudimentary seeds. They remind me of the seeds found in vanilla pods.

sliced

You can see a few on the outside of this one. I once grew an unnamed banana cultivar that would have an occasional fully developed seed in it. The seed was black, extremely hard and about  the size of an unshelled pistachio nut. What a surprise that was the first time I found one!

So, you ask, what did I do with about 200 ripe bananas? First I sliced them lengthwise into thirds. Remember these are small bananas.

mini-seeds

Wondering why they are so shiny? Its because they just got out of their lemony bath.

lemon-bath

There about 2 teaspoons of lemon juice in the bowl. Not enough to change the banana flavor, but enough to keep the slices from turning brown.

I put about a third of the banana slices into my freezer. I spread them out singly on racks from my old dehydrator, so that they would freeze individually. When they were solidly frozen I transferred them to plastic, zipper, freezer  bags to use later. Believe me a frozen slice of banana is wonderful on a hot, Florida day!

But, I can’t have just bananas in my freezer, so the rest of the slices were spread out on racks and dried in my dehydrator. They make a very satisfying chewy snack!

dried-bananas

All of those bananas filled 2 pint and a half canning jars, a quart canning jar and a pint jar. With a few leftover for snacking. I will seal the larger jars with my vacuum sealer for longer storage.

By the way, Irma did hand us some lemons, too! Our little Meyer lemon tree looked like we didn’t water it for months. A really bad case of windburn from those monster winds! To give it respite, I cut it back . I cut off about fifty smallish unripe lemons and gave it a couple of gallons of fish and kelp emulsion. I hope it helps!

Not one to waste anything, I washed and squeezed the juice from most of those lemons. I remember my Mother every time I use my electric juicer. She gave it to me years ago, when my now 40ish children were very little.

I was pleasantly surprised that the  lemons were (mostly) juicy. Instead of my usual yellow juice, the juice is decidedly green. I poured it into some ice trays to make lemon cubes for later. Guess I will pretend that it is Key Lime juice!

What would you do with 200 little bananas?

Until Next Time,

Toni

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My New Assistant

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I f you have been  reading my blog for long, you already know that I have taught a few of my family how to can food here, and here, and here. This particular assistant has been my helper on the fringes, tasting, commenting, and watching. He finally decided that it might actually be fun to try canning himself. Here he is doing his fist actual canning (with a lot of help from his mentor). What is he canning? Pinto beans.

first-time-canner

Candied Chilies

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Candied Chilies
Candied Chilies

Recently, I visited a swap meet with a couple of friends. We had a lot of fun and wore ourselves out! My best purchase was at a produce shop. I discovered some lovely jalapeno chiles and tomatillos, a type of green fruit that makes our absolute favorite salsa. Yes, I have posted that recipe here, when we were living in Mexico. I have, sadly, had a very hard time finding them here in Florida. However, last weekend I found about 10 pounds and bought every single one! I also bought about five pounds of beautiful jalapeno chilies: Read the rest of this entry »

My Pineapple Vinegar Update

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Final Fermentation stage of pineapple vinegar
Final Fermentation stage of pineapple vinegar

As I posted before I am in the process of making vinegar from the skin of a pineapple that we lovingly grew. The photo above is the final fermentation stage after the first straining to remove the pieces of fruit.The whitish stuff floating on the top is a form of yeast and is harmless and helpful.

I have a photo below of my final product. Read the rest of this entry »