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going bananas things to do with an overripe banana
by Yee-Fan Sun
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I've always been a little persnickety about bananas. I love them, yeah, but I'm terribly picky about how a banana should be: I'll eat them only when the fruit is firm and the flavor just developed enough that it's lost its astringency. Basically, I like my bananas when they're still just the teensiest green; once the peel turns a uniform bright yellow -- you know, actually ripe -- the fruit is just too smushy for my taste. Sadly, this leaves me with about a one-day span during which my bananas are at the perfect, not-quite-ripe stage for eating straight. Should I happen to miss this all-too-brief peak period, it's time to think of alternate uses for those bananas.

Fortunately, there are all sorts of tasty ways to put a too-ripe banana to use. Bananas might get unappetizingly squishy as they ripen, but their sweetness and good banana flavor also intensifies. This makes them a perfect addition to all sorts of recipes where the banana texture isn't terribly important.

When the bananas are just a hair too ripe for regular eating -- a little spotty, but not so blackened as to be inedible -- I like to slice them up and mix into plain or vanilla yogurt, or throw them on top of cereal. Barely overripe bananas are also nice sliced up, pan-fried in a smidge of oil until brown on both sides, and piled on top of pancakes or ice cream.

Once the bananas start to show more black than yellow peel, however, it's time for drastic rescue measures. At this point, you're really left with two good uses for your bananas: smoothies and baked goods. If you're not in the mood for either but your bananas are clearly on the verge of being inedibly spotty, take a few minutes to peel, chunk and freeze the bananas so you can use them later. The chunked fruit will turn brown and ugly once it's in the freezer, but as you'll be mixing it up with other ingredients in a recipe, this shouldn't matter. Throw frozen banana chunks into the blender next time you're making smoothies, or thaw and use in your favorite banana recipe. Don't have one? Give these a try…

amble on this way folks!

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