Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
The blackest bananas make the best, sweetest baked oatmeal
There’s a friendly disagreement in my household about bananas.
Not only will my husband eat a banana at any hour of the day, as an accompaniment to any meal, but he also will eat a banana at just about any stage of ripeness beyond yellow.
As for me, I think bananas are OK, but only when they are within a 24-hour window of peak ripeness wherein they are perfectly yellow with no brown spots to be seen. Once the freckles hit, I’m out until they are completely brown — black even — at which point they are perfect for baking.
My kids lean toward my husband’s side, which is wonderful. Not only are bananas a nutritional powerhouse, but they’re cheap and you don’t even have to wash them, so I am all for my family inhaling bananas of every color.
The only problem I face is when I want to bake with bananas.
The scene goes like this: I buy a huge bunch of bananas with plans for some to end up sitting out so long they turn brown and banana bread-ready. Most get eaten, but a handful make it beyond the point of any sane human wanting to consume them. Then they disappear.
My husband still eats them!
He’s just trying to help, so as not to waste them. I just need to clearly communicate my banana baking dreams. Or hide the bananas.
I’m stocked on brown bananas for a while, though.
This past spring, I was dropping my kids off at choir practice and a friend stopped me in the parking lot with an offer I couldn’t resist: a case of bananas. It was probably 40 pounds.
Talk about banana baking dreams coming true. The grocery store apparently was giving away excess banana inventory. I didn’t ask too many questions.
I hid that box on the floor of the pantry for weeks. The goal was to get the bananas completely black.
This may sound crazy, but don’t settle for merely spotty bananas when baking. Wait until they are so dark and mushy that they are almost liquefying in their peels. They may look rotten on the outside, but the more overripe they get, the sweeter they become.
I had big plans for trying myriad new banana bread and muffin recipes with my bounty (peeled and frozen at the point just before they actually rotted), but that hasn’t happened. I just keep making the same Banana Baked Oatmeal recipe.
I’ve been making this recipe for years now, and I love using the most disgusting-looking black bananas because then I can reduce the sugar a bit without noticing a huge difference.
It’s a forgiving recipe, with simple, inexpensive ingredients. I make it for potluck brunches, friends who have new babies and regular weekday breakfasts at home. I’ve memorized it and shared with many.
It’s the kind of recipe that makes it worth it to hide and hoard bananas, all to get them beyond the point where most sane humans would throw them away.