The Magic of Frozen Bananas
With the hearty appetites in our busy vegan household, the freezers must always be chock-full of frozen bananas. We’re extremely grateful that we’re able to buy bananas by the box-load that are organic and locally-grown… Though we’re looking forward to the days when we have enough of our own veganic trees to keep our freezers stocked.
A naturally healthy and sustaining food, bananas give an instant energy boost that is long lasting, yet light on the digestion. They’re fantastic for smoothies, snacks and even raw vegan desserts. (See Marble “Nice Dream” Pie below)
When you take the extra step of freezing them, bananas undergo a remarkable transformation that creates a whole other texture and flavor, and can be used in some fantastic ways that everybody ought to know about.
Following are some of our favorite ways to use frozen bananas, as well as some simple guidelines to make sure your banana freezing goes smoothly!
Image: Robert Scoble
- Choose very ripe bananas
Ideally, when you’re freezing bananas, they should be so ripe that they’re covered in brown spots, just as for baking banana bread. This is when the bananas are at their sweetest, and most intensely flavored. Even if they would be too sweet and soft to eat normally, this is the perfect time to peel and freeze them. You can still freeze bananas that are not yet spotted, but the flavor and sweetness will be milder.
Frozen bananas can still be used for baking. Simply remove them from the freezer, allow to defrost, then use them just as you would use fresh bananas.
- Remove the peels
When bananas are ripe, remove the peels, tip the ends if necessary, and cut away any bad spots and loose “strings.” Place peeled bananas in a plastic bag and freeze overnight or longer.
In a good freezer, they will last for a very long time. If your frozen bananas ever turn brown on the outside, they will still be fine to use, but the sweetness and flavor will intensify. My personal preference is to use them for baking at this point.
When you’re ready to use your frozen bananas, simply remove the bag from the freezer, and use a knife to separate them from each other and cut them into slices.
Sliced frozen banana is a delicious treat all on its own! You can even add a little vegan chocolate/carob sauce for an extra decadent treat (see page 8 for a home-made recipe). For a healthier alternative, you can add raisins, dates, sliced walnuts/pecans, vanilla, and a dash of tahini or peanut butter if you like.
Now that you have a supply in your freezer, you can use frozen bananas for smoothies, sorbets, yogurt and “Nice Cream” (a soft ice cream alternative – see below).
But don’t forget to read below for Gentle World’s famous Banini – the Vegan Vanilla Malted Shake… Or, as one of our friends calls it, “The Milkshake without the Tummy Ache!”
The Banini or Vanilla (Malted) Shake is one of our all-time favorite recipes, and one of Gentle World‘s classic food inventions. After 40 years of experimenting with vegan recipes, we still offer a Banini to almost everyone who walks through our doors – especially if they’ve never had vegan food before.
The great thing about this recipe is that it tastes like a dessert without any of the unhealthy effects of eating sugar. Adding a vegan sweetener like maple syrup or agave nectar might improve this recipe for those with a strong sweet tooth, but I find that it isn’t necessary, especially if the bananas were very ripe when frozen. (Keep in mind that different types of tahini taste different, and the strength or bitterness of the flavor might affect the finished product. A little added sweetener helps in this case.)
The following quantities will yield one full blender, or enough for about four people. I like to make myself a two-glass serving (half of this recipe) for a light lunch that fills me up but doesn’t leave me with a heavy feeling. The quick energy burst from the bananas is a great afternoon pick-me-up.
Banini (Vanilla Malted Shake)
4 cups ice cold water (but don’t add ice to the blender)
4 frozen bananas, sliced
1 fresh banana
1/4 cup tahini
1 tsp. vanilla
In a blender or Vita-Mix, start with three cups of ice cold water. Add the remaining ingredients and blend. Slowly add more water until it reaches desired consistency.
Optional: Add 1 Tbsp maple syrup or ¼ cup vanilla soy milk (or other non-dairy milk)
Variation: Add fresh strawberry, carob, mint or peanut butter
One of my friends makes the most delicious homemade vegan ice cream from a base of cashews, macadamia nuts and soy milk. I’ll gladly admit that it’s out of this world. But these days, I like to go for the sugar-free version – ice cream made from nothing but bananas!
“Nice Cream” is best prepared using a Champion® Juicer. If you don’t have a Champion, you can also use a food processor, but then (depending on the quality of the processor) it might be necessary to add a small amount of water or non-dairy milk to help the bananas homogenize. The texture won’t be quite as smooth as it is with the Champion, but it still tastes great!
Banana “Nice Cream“
6 frozen bananas
Optional: 2 Tbsp. tahini, peanut butter, or any nut butter
Homogenize frozen bananas through a Champion juicer (or a food processor). Add tahini or nut butter for a richer ice cream, or whip a dash of vanilla into the finished product. Eat immediately for a ‘soft-serve’ consistency, or freeze for a firmer “Nice Cream.”
~ Variation: Make a serving of carob-tahini fudge and swirl through the “Nice Cream” before freezing. Alternatively, top with Chocolate Sundae Sauce. Recipes below.
My friend Sky invented the following recipe when he wanted an alternative to a fruit smoothie for breakfast… Or maybe he just wanted a way to eat ice cream at any time of the day without feeling guilty… In any case, I’m very grateful for the invention, because Smush (rhymes with “push”) is one of my all-time favorite breakfasts. It’s quick, easy, healthy and filling. And yummy.
serves 2–3 people
2 strawberry papaya (or other soft fruit, such as peaches, nectarines, or berries)
6–7 frozen bananas (depending on size)
Optional: vanilla, to taste
Removing the seeds, gently scoop papaya from skin (or peel and stone whichever fruit you are using), and slice bananas into rounds. Combine in food processor, and homogenize well using the S-shaped blade. Process until smooth and creamy.
Eat immediately for a soft-serve consistency, unless you want to freeze it for later. Freezing will change the consistency to firm.
Fresh Fruit Sorbet
serves 2–3 people
3 frozen bananas
1/2 cup frozen pineapple, sliced
1 cup frozen mango, sliced
1 cup papaya (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
Mix all ingredients together in a food processor (or Vita Mix®) a little at a time, blending into a cream. Delicious and creamy served immediately, or frozen to make sherbet.
Marble Nice Dream Pie
yields 1 pie
1/3 cup dried shredded coconut
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds, soaked for 15 minutes
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup raw carob powder
6 dates, soaked for 10 minutes
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1. Blend crust ingredients in a food processor using the “S” shaped blade.
2. Sprinkle a little dry carob into the bottom of a pie plate. Press crust into pie plate.
1 frozen banana
3/4 cup raw carob
4 Tbsp. raw tahini
8 dates, soaked for 10 minutes
1/2 tsp. vanilla
a small amount of water from the soaked dates
In a blender, blend all ingredients until thick and creamy. Freeze until ready to use.
“Nice Dream” Filling
12 frozen bananas
15 dates, soaked for 10 minutes
5 Tbsp. raw tahini
2–3 Tbsp. shredded coconut
1. Homogenize filling ingredients using a food processor or a Champion® juicer, alternating ingredients.
2. Mix half of the filling with Carob Sauce, to make carob-flavored Nice Dream.
3. Put the carob and vanilla Nice Dream into the pie crust and swirl. Top with shredded coconut. Cover and freeze overnight. Remove from freezer five minutes before serving. For a soft freeze, serve immediately.
Chocolate / Carob Sundae Sauce
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
4 Tbsp. cocoa or carob powder
2 Tbsp. unrefined sweetener such as Rapadura (or maple syrup)
3 or 4 Tbsp. peanut butter
1 Tbsp. rice syrup
In a blender, blend all ingredients until smooth and creamy. Pour over “Nice Cream” (page 5).
Carob Tahini Fudge
yields about 2 cups
1 cup raw carob powder
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup raw tahini
2 dates, pitted, soaked
1/8 cup water (from date soak)
Blend all ingredients thoroughly in a food processor. Freeze and serve.
Alternatively, swirl it through “Nice Cream” without freezing first.
Gentle World is a non-profit educational organization, whose core purpose is to help build a more peaceful society, by educating the public about the reasons for being vegan, the benefits of vegan living, and how to go about making such a transition. Visit www.GentleWorld.org for more information.