Banana Patch MkII

Back in February it was necessary to perform a distasteful deed… I cut down all of my bananas and used herbicide to kill as much of the root mat as possible. The reason? The plants had been infected with Banana Bunchy Top Virus.

The back yard banana patch has been leveled
The back yard banana patch has been leveled

The virus stunts the growth of the each stalk, with the leaves becoming dwarfed and bunched up at the top giving rise to the virus common name. Nothing to do but to kill the entire clump, wait a while and start over.

That wait is ending. Over the last week I have dug out the banana patch and prepared it to be a productive bed again.

To this end I have dug a small pit where the old patch was located. About twelve feet by eight, and about 18″ deep. This will be the new banana patch.

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Banana Destruction

Unfortunately I have had to destroy my banana patch.

The back yard banana patch has been leveled
The back yard banana patch has been leveled

The patch of plants in my backyard was a venerable Keck lineage, starts passed down from one employee to another over the decades. They were the treasured apple bananas so popular in the islands.

I long ago lost count of how many bunches this patch produced, so many small bananas eaten or shared. The little tart tasting apple bananas are an island delicacy. From fresh to dried, or in smoothies we enjoyed this tropical treat from our own yard.

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The Mangoes are Here

I have a good crop of mangoes coming in!

I am just picking the first few fruit this weekend, there is a lot to come on the tree. I will be eating and drying mangoes for the next week.

The dehydrator is loaded and running as I type. There were not quite enough ripe mangoes to fill it just yet. No problem, I have ripe bananas as well, two trays are banana chips. Both were dipped into grapefruit juice for sealing, the grapefruit are also from the backyard.

A tray of bananas and a tray of mangoes are sprinkled with li hing mui powder. The result is a tangy sweet flavor that is a favorite in the islands. I have come to enjoy the flavor as well, adding it to my dried fruit for years now.

I also have an experiment running… Half a tray of bananas are sprinkled with chili powder. My idea, I suspect Deb will not partake of these chiliban chips.

Mangoes and bananas!  The dehydrator is loaded and running, plenty for a few more loads.
Mangoes and bananas! The dehydrator is loaded and running, plenty for a few more loads.

More Bananas

Three bunches in two weeks. Yes, bananas seem to all ripen at once, as I have noted in the past, it is feast or famine with these things.

Prepping Bananas
The process of preparing bananas and loading the dehydrator.
This time I am ready, the dehydrator is ready to go and I have worked out the process. Thus the fifth load is in the dehydrator now, starting an overnight run. Tomorrow morning we will peel the banana chips off the racks and bag them for storage.

  1. Prepare a dip of 1 cup citrus juice (lime, lemon, or grapefruit), add several tablespoons honey or agave syrup, add one cup water.
  2. Slice the bananas into 1/4 inch slices
  3. Allow to soak in the dip for a few minutes while you slice more
  4. Spread on the dehydrator trays
  5. Run the food dehydrator for 8-10 hours on medium heat, until the fruit is the desired dryness

The results are pretty good, quite nice to snack on. I use grapefruit by preference, I like the slight tangy taste it imparts to the results and I have a grapefruit tree. If no fresh citrus is available the commercial juice works fine. The same recipe works quite well for mangoes and some other tropical fruit. I prefer the dried fruit to be somewhat leathery, not dried until crisp.

Postcard from Hawai’i – Dried Bananas

We are attempting to deal with our banana surplus issue.

A bunch of bananas is too much fruit for us to use in the few days before they spoil. A single bunch can yield 50 to 60 bananas. We snack on bananas, we make smoothies, we slice bananas onto our morning cereal, it is still too many bananas. Our standard answer to avoid waste is to give away much of the fruit. Apple bananas are quite popular and quickly accepted when given away to neighbors an co-workers.

Dehydrated Bananas
A batch of bananas in the dehydrator
Still, it is a long time between bunches, feast and famine, and I would like to have bananas around more often. We have tried freezing, but are not entirely happy with the results, and our freezer space is limited.

This time we are trying dried bananas using a recently purchased food dehydrator. A bit of an experiment, I have never done this before. I dimly remember my mother drying bananas when I was a kid, I do remember the results being pretty good.

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Postcard from Hawaii – Banana Smoothie

Banana Smoothie
A banana and raspberry smoothie awaiting consumption
We gave away over half of them, still we have a bunch of bananas ripening in the kitchen. Bananas on cereal or just eaten plain, we are eating bananas. Our favorite treat is to make banana smoothies.

Today the recipe was three apple bananas, a cup of yoghurt with the fruit mix (blueberry and açaí), a small handful of frozen raspberries, a double handful of ice cubes, milk and a squirt of agave syrup, blend on high.

Sipping over the keyboard as I type this, I am not going to need much supper.