Let’s go bananas to help our growers
Last week we reported that many Australian banana growers have been left devastated after cyclonic winds hit Far North Queensland. Some, such as fifth-generation grower Charles Camuglia, have lost their entire crop to the extreme winds. They now face the daunting task of having to clean up, regroup and rebuild. But there is something that you can do to help. Keep buying Aussie bananas. And we’ve got some great ideas for using them.
“It’s another bitter blow to growers who have suffered enormously with consecutive years of low prices and more recently, critical worker shortages due to COVID,” says Australian Banana Growers’ Council Chair Stephen Lowe of the weather event. “I know there were a lot of growers out there that were extremely distressed even before this, and this has only compounded their hardship. As growers, we know that we are at the mercy of Mother Nature. However, to suffer a succession of knocks is hard to bounce back from.”
While growers wait for government assistance, the best thing that we consumers can do is to keep buying Aussie bananas. Too easy, since they’re so delicious, right? They’re also a great source of potassium, vitamins B6 and C, folate, fibre and antioxidants. All that, and they come in their own neat little package, which means you can grab one and go.
It’s true that bananas are the perfect snack on their own, but they’re also great for using in cooking, especially when you’ve got overripe bananas that might otherwise go to waste. So, to help you go bananas for our growers, we’ve shared these recipes for crowd-pleasing banana sweet treats from the legends at Australian Bananas.
Vegan banana maple scrolls
Prep time 30 minutes
Cooking time 30 minutes
3 cups plain flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp instant dried yeast
½ tsp sea salt flakes, crushed
1 cup dairy-free milk, like almond, almond and coconut or soy, warmed
100g vegan butter, softened
4 bananas, peeled, sliced
¾ cup pecans, chopped
For the icing
½ cup icing sugar
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 tsp dairy-free milk
1. Combine flour, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, a quarter cup of brown sugar, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Add the lukewarm milk and 60g butter, stir until dough comes together. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until dough is smooth and bounces back when you touch it. Alternatively, combine all ingredients in the bowl of a mixer and mix with a dough hook for 5 minutes. Brush a bowl with oil to grease. Place dough in a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a tea towel. Set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 45 minutes or until dough doubles in size.
2. Turn onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth. Roll dough out to a rectangle 45cm long x 20cm wide. Melt remaining butter, brush over the dough. Combine remaining brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over dough, pressing in with your fingertips. Top with banana and pecans. Grease and line a 24x30cm Swiss roll pan.
3. Cut into 9 even strips. Roll strips up, one at a time. Place 2-3cm apart in the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and a clean tea towel. Set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 30 minutes or until scrolls almost double. Preheat oven to 180°C fan-forced.
4. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden.
5. Meanwhile, for the icing, combine icing sugar, maple syrup and milk to form a thick icing. Spoon over the hot scrolls. Serve warm.
• The scrolls are best served warm. To reheat, place between baking paper in a sandwich press or wrap in foil and warm in 160°C fan forced oven for 15 minutes.
• Icing is optional. You can just dust the scrolls with icing sugar if you like.
One bowl banana Weet-Bix muffins
Prep time 10 minutes
Cooking time 22 minutes
½ cup dried dates, chopped
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ cup vegetable oil
2 large (1 cup) ripe bananas, coarsely mashed
¾ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1¾ cup self-raising flour
4 Weet-Bix, crushed
1. Preheat oven 180°C fan-forced. Line a 12-hole muffin pan with paper cases.
2. Place dates in a large heatproof bowl. Pour over a quarter cup of boiling water. Stand for 5 minutes. Stir in the bicarbonate of soda. Add oil, banana, eggs and sugar. Mix well.
3. Sift the flour over the banana mixture. Add Weet-Bix and stir until combined. Divide evenly among prepared pan holes, about a quarter cup per muffin.
4. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Remove. Stand for 10 minutes in pan. Transfer to wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
• Muffins freeze well for up to 3 months.
You’ll find plenty more banana recipe inspiration at the Australian Bananas website.