Banana Bread

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The modern banana may be a dying breed.

Unlike apples and oranges, supermarkets only carry a single variety of banana – the Vietnamese Cavendish.  And unlike other fruits, domestic production of bananas is virtually nonexistent.  Instead, the vast majority of our bananas come from Latin America; Ecuador, Costa Rica, and Colombia represent three of the four largest banana-exporting nations.

The concentration of a single banana variety in a single area helped popularize the banana by creating large economies of scale with respect to harvest periods, and shipping and distribution routes.  These economies of scale made the banana the cheapest fruit in the produce section – a modern miracle considering that the banana has traveled thousands of miles, in cooled containers, and has a shelf life of but a few weeks.

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This concentration and homogenization may, unfortunately, also lead to the banana’s demise.  In the early 1900s, the banana of choice was the Gros Michel – a banana superior in taste, size, and texture to today’s Cavendish.  Sadly, the Gros Michel was all but wiped out by Panama disease, a resistant fungus.

Today, the Cavendish is threatened by an even more insidious strain of the Panama disease fungus.  By some estimates, the fungus is expected to reach the Latin American crop in the next five or ten years.

In the mean time, then, we should try and make the most of our bananas.

Banana Bread

Recipe from Tyler Florence

WHAT TO GRAB:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 overripe bananas
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped(optional)
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

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HOW YOU DO IT:

1.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a bread loaf pan.

2.  In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

3.  Lightly mash two of the bananas with a fork in a small bowl, leaving a bit of texture to the bananas.

4.  Mix the other two bananas together with the sugar until you have a light and fluffy banana cream.  Add the melted butter, eggs, and vanilla.  Working in batches, mix in the dry ingredients until just combined.  With a rubber spatula, fold in the either the nuts or chocolate chips, and the mashed bananas.

5.  Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Give the pan a good rap on the counter to get any air bubbles out.  Bake for about 1 hour 5 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.  (Don’t be nervous if the bread develops a crack down the middle – that’s typical.)

6.  Cool the bread in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.  You may also want to allow the sliced pieces to cool on the rack as well.

7.  Dust with the Confectioners’ sugar and serve!

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4 responses to “Banana Bread

  1. Mmm mmm good. Love banana bread like the Dickens! Is it bad that we make it a bit unhealthy by flaking in chocolate and tossing in handfuls of nuts? We hope not!

  2. The original recipe called for a stick and a half of butter, so I feel like with only one stick, the nuts and chips are a not-so-guilty addition.

  3. You should entitle this post, “The Banana Apocalypse.” Or, “Banocalypse” for short.

  4. Laugh now. But when it comes, don’t come asking for any of my frozen bananas!

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