Considering they’re down to a few dollars a kilogram bananas are surprisingly hard work. I wrote, recently, about how sorely our family’s patience was being tested as we watched a mammoth bunch of bananas – literally the size of my five year old daughter – refuse to ripen on one of the palms we planted last year. Eventually, with banana prices back then still around $12 to $15 per kilogram, I hacked it off in the hope that it would hurry up the process. We hung them up downstairs in the shade and cool under the house and for a month they did nothing. Finally I hauled the huge bunch and dumped it in disgust in the compost, way back in the far corner of our yard. A few days later, upending a load of scraps I saw that some of the bananas I had tossed out had amazingly turned yellow. Brushing aside a few potato peels and tea leaves I opened one up and it was delicious and for a few moments I understood the thrill our resident brush tailed possum must get when he strikes compost gold. For about a week we feasted on bananas slowly ripening in the compost bay.
This week a second bunch ripened, though, by the time I noticed, the local bats had gotten in first and eaten about a quarter of the fruit. Holding my breath against a cloud of fruit fly I hacked it down and spent a good hour working out how to actually get into the bunch and separate them, without damaging the delicate fruit, as it didn’t seem like a good idea to send my daughters off to school with 15 kilos each. I have decided that out there must be a tool that I don’t yet know about, or a process that I haven’t yet mastered because breaking the bunch into manageable hands, without destroying the individuals, was like pulling apart a Rubik’s cube…And yet somehow I got there and all week we have been feasting on bananas – banana toast, banana smoothies, banana a la naturale. Best of all we have been able to give away huge hands of them to our friends. And there are three more monster bunches on the way.