I know that some people think that the extinction of bananas is a myth. While not every variety of banana is at risk, the most known and available type of banana in the US, the Cavendish, is heading towards extinction. There are hundreds of varieties of bananas, which many Americans would be suprised to learn as 90% of the time bananas in the market are yellow and uniform in size.
The plants – not trees – that yield bananas are actually giant herbs, the largest herbs in the world. The bananas themselves are actually berries. Bananas ripen best off of the plant they grow on and are picked and shipped every day of the year. Bananas are the most popular fresh fruit in the United States. In fact, the average American eats nearly 30 pounds of bananas every year, roughly 100 bananas! Currently, bananas are the world’s fourth most profitable food crop, behind rice wheat and potatoes. Almost 88 million tons (80 million metric tonnes) are harvested each year, with India being the largest producer. Bananas have 1.2 grams of protein, are high in vitamins b6, C and potassium and contain lots of fiber, among their other nutrients. It is possible to live on a diet of just milk and bananas. Good to know.
Now, I love bananas. I love them plain and I love to cook with them. I’ll miss the cavendish if and when it goes, but I will enjoy having more banana options at the market. To thoroughly enjoy the lovely, yellow bananas currently in my kitchen, I made some banana muffins and topped them with a banana crumb topping. I put such a thick crumb layer on the muffins, it only covered 8 of the 12 in the batch. I did not mind that the rest were plain, but I would advise you to use a more judicious distribution of the crumb topping. Shortening makes a slightly softer crumb in the topping, but you can substitute an equal amount of butter.
Banana Crumb Muffins
1 Â½ cups all purpose flour
Â½ tsp baking soda
Â½ tsp baking powder
Â½ tsp salt
2/3 cup sugar
3 tbsp vegetable oil
Â½ cup buttermilk
2/3 cup (2 medium) mashed bananas, divided
1 tsp vanillaCrumb topping:
Â½ cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
Â¼ tsp salt
3 tbsp shortening, cut into small pieces.
1 tbsp mashed banana (reserved from 2/3 cup mashed banana)
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease or line 12 muffin tins with paper liners.
Prepare the crumb topping: In a small bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Cut shortening into flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Larger crumbs are a bit more desirable. Stir in the mashed banana and set bowl aside.
Prepare the batter: In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, vegetable oil, buttermilk, egg, bananas and vanilla. Pour flour mixture into banana mixture and stir until batter is just combined. Spoon into muffin tins, filling each 2/3 full. Top each muffin with crumb mixture, dividing it evenly.
Bake for 18-21 minutes, until a tester comes out clean and the muffins spring back when gently touched.
Makes 12 muffins
Dirty ApronSeptember 7, 2005
This is my first time commenting here, and I wanted to tell you how gorgeous I think your blog is! I always enjoy your posts. So thanks!
utenziSeptember 7, 2005
To add emphasis to your words, the example of Gros Michel can be given. It was the main commercial cultivar of bananas from the late 1800s to the mid 1950s. Panama disease eliminated too many of the banana plants for them to be commercially viable–just what is being forecast for Cavendish now. So it can and has happened in the past.
I’m not old enough to have eaten Gros Michels, but according to reports it was better tasting with better texture also. Few banana cultivars have the characteristics needed to be commercially grown so replacing Cavendish won’t be easy.
AliceSeptember 7, 2005
wow…fascinating information about bananas. The muffins sound great and look even better.
Zarah MariaSeptember 7, 2005
I feel so clever now! Thanks for all that info Nic, I had no idea bananas was a berry! The muffins look yummy – I like the idea of a “wet” topping. I’ll have to try these, maybe adding a little bit of chocolate! 🙂
NicSeptember 7, 2005
Dirty apron – Thank you, and welcome! I love to hear from new (and old!) readers.
Utenzi – Thanks for adding a bit about the Gros Michel. I never had them myself, either, but I will be interested to see if more banana varieties enter the market as commercial growers try to diversify their crops.
Alice – I just love interesting food trivia!
Zarah – I didn’t know it either, until I started reading a bit more about them. I love the bit of extra banana flavor in the topping. The more banana, the better.
violetSeptember 7, 2005
once again, a beautiful recipe, nic.
funnily enough. i just heard of the cavendish extinction when reading old posts on the chowhound board!
CathySeptember 7, 2005
Hi Nic – yummy looking muffins and interesting post! I hadn’t about the impending extinction of the Cavendish banana – do you know what the cause is?
NicSeptember 7, 2005
violet – I wouldn’t be suprised if at least a few chowhounders were concerned about it.
Cathy – It’s afungal infection called “race 4”, a strain of Panama disease. You can read a bit more about it here
AnonymousSeptember 7, 2005
I never knew that about bananas.Thanks for the info,so interesting.I’ll definately be trying this recipe,I love banana muffins of any kind.
AnaSeptember 7, 2005
Interesting info Nic. And the muffins look delicious.
RandiSeptember 7, 2005
check these out.
also, ina gartens banana crunch muffins are to die for.
NicSeptember 8, 2005
Ana and Emily – We’re all banana experts now. Or at least slightly above the average banana consumer. Alright!
Randi – Ah, Ina’s secret is a granola topping. That and a whole lot of butter. Always tasty.
LoriSeptember 9, 2005
I wasn’t aware that the Cavendish was “endangered.” We have so many different kinds of bananas here in the Philippines that I feel spoilt for choice. I’m really thankful, actually, since bananas are one of my fave fruits. 🙂
I LOVE crumb topping with anything! I probably would’ve doubled the crumb topping so I would be left with more crumb topping than muffins! :p
NicSeptember 10, 2005
Lori – You’re right: when you’re going with a crumb topping, it’s best to go all out and use lots!
DanaFebruary 12, 2006
I’ve made many different banana
muffins over the years but these are by far the best I’ve made!
Lots of compliments on them and people keep asking me to make them more! lol
Thanks so much for posting this recipe, your blog is great and fun to read.
ps: thanks for the advice via email about starting a food blog, much appreciated.
AdeJuly 18, 2007
Just made these muffins (tossed in some blueberries too) & they are delicious!!!
Thanks for another great recipe.
NJuly 24, 2007
Hi! Was wondering for the crumb mixture if i didn’t have shortening would butter work as well?
MlsayNovember 18, 2007
Nic, thanks for sharing this recipe. I was looking for different a different approach this year for holiday presents. I tried your recipe and it tasted really good. My mistake was I didn’t grease the muffin pan well enough that the crumb topping spread out spilled on to the sides of the pan. This caused the muffin to stick to the tins. I used butter instead of shortening for the crumble topping. Could this be the cause?
More power and thanks.
AleriaOctober 3, 2011
Thanks for the recipe! I actually used homemade apple sauce with no sugar instead and made them into apple muffins. Next time I’ll add a touch of cinnamon and they’ll be perfect!