COLUMNISTS

Trying to get it right

Susan Manzke
Susan working with failed bread dough.

Has anyone ever told you to buy both ripe and green bananas? The idea is that by the time you finish eating the yellow bananas, the green ones would have had time to ripen. These will then be perfect for your breakfast.

On the other hand, if you bought the same number of ripe/yellow bananas, by the time half are eaten the others will be over-ripe, heading toward black.

For years, I’ve been buying both yellow and green bananas and it mostly works. Three weeks ago, I did just that but it turned out to be a mistake.

I set the green bananas aside and ate the perfect yellow ones, one a day.

At the end of the week, I was out of ripe bananas, but the green ones hadn’t changed. They were still hard as rocks.

Daughter Rachel googled how to ripen bananas. The internet suggestion was to put the green ones in a brown paper bag with an apple. The ethylene gas given off the apple would speed up the ripening. The suggestion said not to use a plastic bag. In a day or two, the bananas should be nice and ripe.

A week later and my green bananas were still hard.

A second suggestion was to microwave one for thirty seconds, so I did. Too bad I didn’t read all the directions. I was supposed to make multiple pokes through the skin.

Green bananas after being in the oven at 300 degrees for thirty minutes.

It wasn’t long before a funny smell came from my microwave. I quickly shut it off, but not before setting off my smoke alarm—it didn’t take the entire thirty seconds to get a whiff of smoke. I believe the dry stem end was the problem. No more microwaving bananas for me.

Another internet suggestion was to bake the green bananas in the oven. I set my oven temp at 300 degrees as instructed. I also set a thirty-minute timer to make sure I wouldn’t forget.

This time the fruit came out black and soft, though I wouldn’t consider them ripe. I found their taste bland, not very banana-like.

Except for the paper bag ripening trick, the baking and microwave bananas would not be for eating like a regular yellow banana. They would be okay to use in banana bread or in a cake. They came out mushy and not as sweet if ripened naturally. I would not suggest either baking or microwaving bananas. Mine ended up in the garbage.

The only successes I had were in a paper bag AND a test one in a plastic bag. Apples were in both bags and eventually the bananas ripened, but it took WEEKS.

Susan tried a few methods to ripen green bananas - and not all with success, using a paper bag,  adding an apple in  a plastic bag.

I had another issue with baking that didn’t concern bananas. I wanted to make a special bread for my friend Kathy who was helping with my family tree.

To get the bread baked in time to share with Kathy, I got up early. It takes time to set up a batch of beer bread, even if it doesn’t need a lot of kneading.

Everything seemed to be going well but somewhere I went wrong.

Instead of having a nice, crusty round loaf, mine flopped. And I do mean a flat flop.

Sure it was edible, but only if used to dunk in balsamic vinegar, which we did.

I rethought my recipe. Had I made it as I had in the past? One thing I forgot was to put a pan of hot water in the oven with the baking loaf, but that couldn’t have been the only thing I had done wrong. Maybe it was the beer—I have to blame something. It was leftover from last summer and was blueberry ale.

I’m sure I did something else wrong. I was visiting with my daughter Rachel at the same time and could have been distracted.

The other day I made the beer bread again and it came out perfect.

My advice is to forget very green bananas. Buy the fruit ripe and half-ripe. When making bread of any kind, make sure you pay attention to your recipe. That’s the best I can do today.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; Sunnybook@aol.com; www.susanmanzke.net/blog.