Monday, May 21, 2012

An embarassment of bananas

Yes - we have bananas. Just before leaving Uo Pou, we bought a stalk of bananas that was delivered to us in the back of a pickup by Norbert, the carver, along with the carved paddle Rani had selected earlier in the day. The stalk (or regime as it is called en Francais) arrived split into bunches, which completely filled two cardboard boxes, both of which were as heavy as I could comfortably lift. We felt like smugglers as we loaded the boxes off a rock breakwater into our tippy dinghy, in the dark. Rowing across the harbour, we tapped on Chapter Two's hull and transferred a box to their deck. The remainder we brought on board Ladybug in bunches, hanging some outside on the stern rail and washing others to stow below.

We have learned that heat, light, and salt water all conspire to ripen a banana. Some we placed in hammocks, which we made up from fish netting purchased in Mexico. We covered these with cloth hoping to delay their ripening. Others we placed in the long term veggie storage area - dark and hopefully cool. Unlike Mike & Karen on Chapter Two, our fridge is too small to make this a viable option. Rani estimated the number of bananas on the stalk at about 170 - quite a haul for $10 - but a problem if they ripen at once. What to do...

We could bake banana bread and muffins every day, but this would heat up the already toasty boat and would use lots of butane. We had tried dried bananas in Atuona and seen them for sale in some of the stores, so this seemed like a better solution.

We saw banana drying racks on Ua Pou - plastic covered frames with screened sides - and would like to make a smaller version for the boat. For now, however we are using broiling trays with slotted bottoms that allow air flow. Placing the trays on a rolling sea-swept boat can be tricky and only in harbour have we been able to put the trays in full sun on the deck. Under way we place them under the dodger where they are kept mostly dry and get slightly filtered sunlight. We were told it takes 3 or 4 days for the drying process and this has been our experience with our first batch, which we have just finished drying. They taste like candy!

It would be fun to try drying pineapple or mango and we may try this when we find some of these fruit in quantity.

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