Recently I started a series of articles on the preservation and processing of farm produce. It started with avocados and now I am on bananas. Discussing preservation and processing is pertinent for so many things. Other than preventing unnecessary food losses, it also helps you know about value addition as well. In Zimbabwe, people are accustomed to selling farm produce raw. However, there are more prospects on the value addition side which is why I am doing these articles. If there are other crops or fruits you wish to be explored, kindly indicate in the comments below.
Keeping Them Attached
This applies to those who probably have banana trees at home or can source them like that. This is the most elementary way to preserve bananas. You simply keep them attached just as they were before harvesting. In fact, when you harvest you must cut off the branch nicely. Make a clean single cut with a sharp knife. Then when individually harvesting them, remove the ripe ones carefully without bruising the branch or the unripe ones. By doing all these steps, you can preserve harvested bananas for 4 or even more days depending on the variety.
Proximity To Other Unripe Fruits
This is yet another simple and interesting one. By keeping ripe bananas close to unripe fruits you can preserve them for a while. For example, you can keep them close to unripe avocados. This has been seen to keep the bananas fresh for while once they are ripe.
This is a typical method and also applies to bananas. You peel the ripe bananas and either slice or just keep them whole chunks like that. You then place them in plastics any convenient plastic wraps. After that, you freeze them for at most 2 hours. This is followed by removing them from the freezer then placing their airtight containers. After that, you will then place them back in the freezer for use at a much later time.
The sun is quite useful in the preservation of most foods. If you have a solar dryer it would even be easier for you. Or you can simply use a clean platform and place it out in the sun. Of course, you start by slicing them and just working with them as whole chunks.
Using A Dehydrator
You would need a dehydrator to do this and you can actually buy one. You slice or keep them whole and then dehydrate them using a dehydrator. Dehydration can take as many as 6 hours. You can then place them in an airtight container and put them in a refrigerator. This method can preserve your bananas for up to 12 months.
I recently did an article on Zeengaz Banana Chips by Richard Zengeni. So this is one way of processing bananas – simply just like how potatoes are processed into potato chips. Banana chips are typically made from bananas that are yet to ripen. The great thing about these is that they have very low sugar content – great for health-conscious folk.
You can actually prepare jam from bananas yourself. Making jam can make good use of bananas that have become overripe. You peel them and then mash them up. You proceed to add ingredients such as honey and lemon juice. You then cook the mixture, constantly stirring until it is mixed up evenly. Afterwards, you will let the mixture cool whilst it thickens then you place it in a refrigerator. You can use this jam for a week or so. Shelf life is longer though when the processing is done industrially.
Smoothies Or Drinks
You peel ripe bananas and slice them first. You proceed to put them in a blender and you add ingredients of your choice. You can add other fruits or ingredients such as milk and honey. You then blend the mixture and can refrigerate the product which you can drink with 3 or so days. Other further methods such as pasteurization can be used to make other products suitable for drinking.
This can be done from the juice extracted from the bananas. The juice is put through a fermentation process. Just fermentation alone can produce banana beer. As for wine, you would have to add wine yeast. Fermentation should on average last up to 21 days. Other subsequent processes would be filtration and the like. You can attain alcoholic beverages whose alcohol content can be as high as 12 per cent.
I chose as always to dwell on methods that you can do yourself at home. These can help you make better use of bananas and even broader, it can open up business prospects. Imagine the money you can make from doing value addition of bananas. Just a simple process can more than triple the initial value of a banana.