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VOL. 37 | NO. 11 | Friday, March 15, 2013

Give this column a read before you split

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Banana

Banana who?

Banana split, so ice creamed!

OK, so, I’m not much of a jokester. That could be because I have two ornery sons and one very funny hubby who are always a step ahead of me. However, I thought this was a cute way to start my banana split column. First, a little information on some of the fruits in the yummy dessert I am sharing with you.

Bananas

Grown in the warm, humid tropics, banana bushes produce one 50-pound bunch of bananas each. Each bunch has several “hands” of bananas (fingers).

There are hundreds of banana species, with the yellow Cavendish banana is America’s favorite.

When shopping, you might see some funny looking bananas. Here’s a brief rundown:

The squat, square-like three to five inch long burro has a tangy lemon-banana flavor

The blue java (or ice Cream) has a blotchy, silver-blue skin and tastes like ice cream

The Guinea Verde is more starchy than sweet

The chunky, six-inch red banana turns bronzy brown when ripe

The baby, dwarf or finger banana, about three to four inches long and sweeter than the Cavendish.

The strawberry-apple-flavored manzanos, or Mysore, from India

Orinoco, with its trace of strawberry flavor.

Bananas are high in carbohydrates, low in protein and fats, and rich in potassium and vitamin C. They are a perfect fruit.

Coconuts

Malaysia is the homeland of the coconut palm, but it now grows in South America, India, Hawaii and throughout the Pacific Islands. A coconut tree yields thousands of coconuts over its nearly 70-year lifespan.

Each coconut has several layers, a smooth, deep tan outer covering, a hard, dark brown, hairy husk with three indented “eyes,” a thin brown skin, the creamy white coconut meat and, at the center, a thin, opaque coconut juice.

Usually the smooth outer shell is removed before being exported. Coconut is high in saturated fat and is a good source of potassium.

Pineapple

This beautiful tropical fruit received its name because of its resemblance to the pinecone. Most Europeans call it ananas, derived from the Paraguayan nana meaning “excellent (or exquisite) fruit.”

Although the pineapple is native to Central and South America, Hawaii is now the leading producer. Two commercial varieties found in the United States are the Hawaiian cayenne and the red Spanish, mainly from Florida and Puerto Rico.

The cayenne pineapple is long and cylindrical with a golden-yellow skin, and the red Spanish pineapple is squatter, with a reddish golden-brown skin.

Mexico grows a variety called sugar loaf, a large, wonderfully sweet pineapple. Unfortunately, due to it not shipping well, it’s rarely imported.

Chocolate-dipped Banana Bonbons

4 ounces of semisweet chocolate

3 bananas, peeled and cut into one-inch chunks, sprinkled with Fruit Fresh

Small plastic forks

Toasted coconut

Melt the chocolate. Pierce each banana chunk with a fork. Dunk each chunk into the chocolate, then sprinkle it with toasted coconut. Place on waxed paper-lined cookie sheet and freeze for two hours or overnight. Allow to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.

Banana Split Pudding

1 (15 1/4 oz.) can of crushed pineapple, well drained

(save the liquid)

1 (14 oz.) can of Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk

1 (4 oz.) pkg. of instant banana cream pudding and pie filling mix

2 cups of whipping cream, whipped

1 (15 1/4 oz.) pkg. of thin chocolate wafers (40 wafers)

4 medium bananas, sliced & dipped in lemon juice

or sprinkled with Fruit Fresh

Chopped pecans or peanuts

Maraschino cherries

Add water to the drained pineapple juice until it equals 1 1/2 cups. In a large bowl, combine the Eagle Brand milk and pudding with the saved liquid. Mix and beat well. Add pineapple. Chill 10 minutes. Fold in whipped cream.

Spoon 1 1/2 cups of pudding into a large glass serving bowl. Top with one-third each of the chocolate wafers, bananas and pudding. Repeat the layering twice, ending with the pudding. Chill thoroughly. Garnish with chopped pecans and maraschino cherries. Serve with Chocolate-dipped Banana Bonbons.

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