Homegrown Bananas

December 4, 2015

10  comments


Bananas growing in Fairhope, Alabama, Leslie Anne TarabellaI first noticed them this past summer, around June, just hanging around up in the banana tree about 8-9 feet off the ground. Baby bananas!
Growing bananas on the Gulf CoastEven though banana trees are common in this area, most people use them as a decorative, tropical addition to their yard because it’s rare for them to actually produce fruit. The banana pod hangs down from the stalk and produces small flowers that look like a cross between honeysuckle and a tiny orchid.

 

Banana blossom, Fairhope Alabama

After reading more about them, the most popular fruit is indeed in the herb family and related to both orchids and lilies.

We watched the bananas grow all summer long. Round and round in a spiral, the flowers would bloom, then produce the tiny banana. There got to be about 40 little bananas on one stalk, but in the end only about 25 or so were large enough to eat.

 

Banana flowersI remembered I had seen these banana pods, or as they call them “flowers” in the International Farmer’s Market in Georgia during a trip to visit my friends Rachel and Douglas. There are instructions on-line about how to chop these up, soak them and use them in tropical recipes.

 

Growing bananas in Fairhope AlabamaI wanted my bananas to keep growing, so I left the flower pod where it was. (extra credit for spotting the Beagle). As the bananas grew heavier, the pod dropped closer and closer to the ground. It was directly over our backyard gate, so we had to duck to go in and out. The pod was heavy and gave us a good whack in the head a few times. It always had sticky goo coming out of the flowers.

 

Growing bananas in Fairhope AlabamaLayer by layer, the flower pod peeled back its petals to reveal new flowers.

 

Growing bananas in Fairhope Alabama, Gulf Coast., Leslie Anne Tarabella

Everyone told me I needed to cut the stalk before the first freeze. My plan was to cut them and take them for show and tell to my friend Brandi’s Kindergarten class, but guess when the first freeze warning was? The day before school was dismissed for Thanksgiving holidays! No kids!

 

Growing bananas in Fairhope, Alabama, Leslie Anne Tarabella

So instead, I took them up to Shepherd’s Place and let them see. One man commented, “You must have a lot of monkeys in your yard!”

 

They were HEAVY! There was much discussion that these weren’t bananas and were instead plantains, which also occasionally grow in this area. They were hard and very green, so I went with plantains. I gave some to Donnie Barrett, the director of the Fairhope Museum who is always up for interesting things.

 

Donnie Barrett cutting bananas for the Fairhope Museum of History in Fairhope Alabama.Donnie cut me off enough to take home and cook, but then when I returned from Thanksgiving, my plantains had turned yellow! They were bananas after all! Not like commercially produced bananas that are gassed to force ripeness, but creamy, smooth bananas that were bursting with flavor.

 

Homegrown bananas in Fairhope Alabama

They weren’t as perfect or pretty as what we’ve been taught to like from the grocery store, but they were delicious.

Homemade banana pudding recipe. Bananas grown in Fairhope Alabama.

We ate a few just like they were, then I knew exactly what I would do with the others.

 

Homemade banana pudding recipe. Delicious traditional Southern dessert. From Fairhope Supply Co.

I made homemade – homegrown banana pudding! We always have a big bowl of banana pudding at just about every covered dish event around here. It’s as popular as deviled eggs and fried okra!

 

My husband said it was the best banana pudding he’s ever had. Here’s the recipe:

 

Old Fashioned Banana Pudding

1 cup sugar

3 eggs, beaten

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups milk

1 teaspoon vanilla (plus a little extra splash)

4-5 ripe bananas

vanilla wafer cookies

 

Whisk sugar and eggs together. Add cornstarch, milk and salt. Continue to whisk together. Bring this mixture to a boil over a medium heat while constantly whisking to prevent sticking or burning. Cook until thick, about five minutes. Remove from heat, then stir in vanilla.

 

Mash 1/2 banana with a fork and mix into your pudding mixture.

Layer some of the cookies in the bottom of your dish, cover with banana slices, then a layer of pudding. Repeat the layers until pudding is gone. Top with a layer of crushed cookies.

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I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to grow my own bananas again, but I sure hope so. They were incredibly delicious! And thank goodness, no monkeys invaded the yard.

 

Leave a Reply

  1. Pretty pictures, Leslie Anne. That’s exciting to watch all summer and now the mystery is solved. I hope you grow them again because that sounds like the best banana pudding ever. Thank you for not using Cool Whip and instant pudding mix, which is positively un-Southern!

  2. Had almost forgotten that Jello pudding does not have to be part of the recipe. That is amazing to be able to grow your own tropical fruit and it turn out to be delicious.

    1. This stuff would put Jell-O out of business, except that it’s fun to give kids a plastic bowl with all the dry mix and milk and let them shake-shake-shake!

  3. Just when I think I have seen it all — home-grown bananas. I had no idea they would grow around there. The pudding sounds really good. I will have to give your recipe a try. My resident monkey eats enough Bananas to keep Dole in business.

  4. This is the same way my Mom always made Banana Pudding except that she always topped it with egg white meringue, toasted until the peaks were a light golden brown…same as she put on chocolate, coconut, and lemon meringue pies. DELICIOUS!!!

  5. Hi Little Bitty Pretty One! Oh, look at your little bananas! How exciting and they are so very pretty! Now how did you know I love banana puddin’? Yummy! I’ll have just a little please. You look so cute with those tossed over your tiny shoulder. I almost started singing…Day 0 Da a a O. Daylight come and I wanna go home…
    Hope you’re having a good weekend.
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia 😉

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