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Banana chips

Bananas. What baby or toddler doesn’t love them? Well I’m sure there must be some who don’t, but on the whole they’re probably one of the favourite fruits of little ones. Firm enough to hold, yet easy to eat even without teeth. The only time bananas aren’t any good is if your munchkin is constipated (but they’re great if things need firming up!).

One of Nicholas’ favourite snacks are banana chips. I buy the ones that are as natural as possible, making sure they haven’t been coated in sugar or fried, but when I came across Sweet Road’s recipe, I knew I had to try making them!

This is yet another way to use up very ripe bananas (remember the riper they are, the sweeter they’ll be). And while the cooking time is long (you’re using your oven as a dehydrator), you can leave them to do their drying and go do something else.

The only issue with this recipe is that you really have to try it a few times to understand what temperature and timing your oven needs to produce your desired level of crispiness. Ovens unfortunately do differ from each other in terms of temperature. Nicholas prefers the chewy banana chips so I have been trying to achieve a nice balance of chewiness and crispness.

An important point to add: if you make your chips chewy rather than completely crisp, tear them up into pieces before giving them to your little one to avoid any possibility of choking.

The results of my first two tries:

1. Oven 80C, cooked for 1 hr 45 mins

  • I cut the banana too thin (about 3mm thick) so they were very difficult to take off the baking paper even when they were cool. I should have read Jaime’s original recipe more closely!
  • I lay the banana slices on baking paper on a baking tray.
  • The chips were too soft and sticky, the underside being softer than the top.

2. Oven 95C, cooked 1 hr 30 mins then turned each banana slice over and cooked for another 30mins

  • I cut the banana following the original recipe’s suggestion (about 5mm thick) and was much happier with the result.
  • I lay the banana slices on baking paper on a baking tray.
  • Turning them helped crisp both top and bottom, but they were still too soft for my liking, sticking too easily to each other when put in a container.

After my third try I was happy with the results, and I’ll be sticking to this method (below) from now on. A slightly higher temperature, but the main difference is that I don’t put the banana slices on a baking tray, but put the baking paper directly onto the oven’s wire shelf. The edges become crispy while the middle is chewy yet firm. The surface is drier than the previous tries and so they don’t stick to each other when stored. Looking at the last packet of chewy banana I bought at the supermarket, one of the ingredients is rice flour which I’m assuming isn’t used in the cooking stage but tossed through at the end to keep them from sticking – perhaps something else to try if they ever last that long in the container.

Perhaps I’ll experiment some more in the future using a lower temperature and a much longer cooking time, as probably my method is less dehydrating and more cooking the banana slices.

Anyway, the verdict from Nicholas? He liked all of them… a lot!

SLIGHTLY CHEWY BANANA CHIPS

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 2 hrs (no need to check during this time)
Makes about 60 chips

2 ripe bananas
1/2 lemon, squeezed

Take out one of your oven’s wire shelves and lay a piece of baking paper over it. Preheat the oven to 100C.

Cut your bananas into slices about 5mm thick and lay them on the baking paper. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the banana with the lemon juice (or you can just dip your fingers in the juice and rub the banana!).

Cook the banana for two hours (you don’t need to check or turn them or do anything else during this time).

Take them out of the oven and leave to cool on the baking paper. They’ll become firmer as they cool.

Store in an airtight container.

Spending so much time with banana slices (!) has made me appreciate their beauty. Look at their lovely pansy-like patterns!

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