Bananas may seem commonplace in our kitchens today, but that wasn’t always the case. Immediately following the Civil War bananas were imported to the US from Jamaica. It was a lengthy trip, sometimes taking a few weeks to arrive, which made them quite exotic. At first only the upper class could afford bananas, which sold for 10 cents each (equivalent to $2 in modern times). To hide their shape, which some folks back then deemed “provocative,” the bananas were peeled, sliced and wrapped in foil before being sold. I suspect the foil also helped to disguise that the bananas were overripe by the time they were ready for sale.
Today, bananas are much more prevalent and thankfully far more affordable. Bananas are as convenient as they are versatile; I am always finding new ways to use them. About a year ago my friend T told me that she tosses frozen bananas into her food processor to make “banana ice cream.” The only ingredient is frozen bananas! I told her that her method is very clever, but perhaps we should call it “banana soft serve” since there is no cream involved. She agreed, we made a batch, and the rest is history!
Food processor banana soft serve is now the most popular dessert in my home, especially during the hot summer months. It’s healthy, dairy free and completely natural. I love that you don’t need to add sugar to sweeten it; the dessert is completely made from fruit, sweetened only by Mother Nature. This stuff is seriously delicious, and it’s a great way to extend the life of bananas that are just on the verge of being overripe… you can freeze them, pop them in bags and store them for later. The only limit is your imagination! It’s also incredibly versatile; you can add a variety of ingredients to make different flavors including other frozen fruits, spices, peanut butter, or cocoa powder.
Today I’m providing the basic method for banana soft serve with no add-ins. Over the next several weeks I’ll be sharing some other fun banana soft serve recipes to liven up your summer kitchen. Stock your freezer with frozen banana and get ready to party!
- Line a plate or baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice bananas into 1/2 inch rounds and place them on the parchment evenly spaced. You can fit about 5 medium-sized bananas on one standard-sized baking sheet, and you will end up with about 1 pound of frozen banana. Freeze the banana pieces for a few hours up to overnight, or until firm. Don't freeze them for longer than 24 hours or they may start to brown, get freezer burn and lose their flavor.
- Remove the pieces from the cookie sheet and immediately place them into Ziploc bags (they thaw quickly!). Weigh each bag as you fill them to 1 pound of banana in each (about 3 1/2 cups banana slices). Remove the air from each bag before placing back in the freezer. I like preparing 1 pound batches of bananas this way so that they're easy to grab and make whenever we feel like a quick dessert. This 1 pound portion of bananas seems to be the best for blending smoothly and easily in our processor. Alternatively you can freeze the slices in bags without first putting them on the cookie sheets, but they will stick together as they freeze and it will be harder to blend them.
- When you're ready to prepare the sorbet, fit your food processor with the blade attachment and pour the frozen banana pieces in. You can also attempt this in the blender, but it is much more difficult to avoid clumping and to get things to mix evenly. If you have a food processor, use it!
- Start by pulsing the frozen banana a few times until small crumbles form.
- Continue processing. As you do so you'll notice the banana mixture clumping or sticking from time to time. Open the processor and use a spatula to spread the mixture out evenly throughout the processor so that it processes smoothly.
- Continue processing, periodically stirring with the spatula, until the mixture becomes smooth and has the consistency of soft serve ice cream.
- Scoop the soft serve into bowls and serve immediately.
- This is a basic recipe for basic banana soft serve, and it's great as-is, but it can easily be changed and improved by adding other ingredients-- cocoa powder, peanut butter, or other frozen fruits. Note: this recipe is gluten free, dairy free and nut free as written. Any additional ingredients may render it less allergy friendly; add with care!
- I will be sharing other variations on this theme over the next few months. Enjoy!
Jenkins, Virginia Scott (2000). Bananas: An American History. Smithsonian Books. US.