Today I whipped up a batch of something I wouldn’t have even considered until recently. You see, all my life I’ve believed I have an allergy to bananas. It’s never been a problem since they’re pretty easy to avoid and I don’t even care too much for the smell of them. That all changed on our trip last February to Costa Rica. At the last place we stayed, we were served a sweet, red spread with breakfast that I thought was delicious. It turned out to be Banana Marmalade!
I’ve never had a problem with the flavor of baked foods like banana bread or cookies so maybe it’s just raw bananas that turn me off. And I’m pretty sure if I ever was allergic I’m not now. In any case, I asked the lodge owner how it was made and she gave me a quick description but no set measurements. Today I just googled for a recipe and used one that appeared several times in the first page of results.
I started with a pound and a half of bananas and a lemon. The recipe also called for the zest of half an orange but since I didn’t have any I used the dried stuff from Penzey’s. And, of course, there’s lots of sugar. Everything just gets dumped in a pot and cooked. I was skeptical at first that there was enough liquid. Having never eaten a raw banana, I always just assumed they were as dry and spongy as they looked.
Once they got cooking I was surprised at the amount of juice that came out. I kept stirring and cooking them on medium-low heat and watched as the fruit broke down and the mixture got thicker.
Eventually the marmalade took on a translucent sheen and a spoonful on a chilled plate had the right consistency after a quick visit to the fridge. You’ll notice, if you’re as attentive as I think you are, that it doesn’t have the pretty red color that the Costa Rican marmalade had. The lodge hostess told me there were no red ingredients and that the color was just from the caramelization of the sugars. Since my batch was getting thick I was hesitant to push it any farther and end up with a scorched flavor. Maybe next time I’ll be more daring.
I jarred it up and left it to cool before the final tasting. Since it was going in the refrigerator to be eaten right away I didn’t bother with a full-on processing, although the second jar did go in the freezer. Hopefully it’s sugary enough to not expand and break the jar.
Once it had cooled some, I tried it on a piece of toast. Pretty yummy but doesn’t hold a candle to local strawberry jam. Since my strawberry plants are only blooming right now, I don’t think I’ll be jamming any too soon. But this tropical treat might hold us over until the local fruit comes in. My only concern is about the kinds of wildlife it attracts.