Go Bananas with These 101-Year-Old Recipes

This 1917 chef offers 13 banana recipes for everything from fritters to croquettes to bananas served with meat.


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Once considered “the poor man’s fruit,” banana prices are on the rise in 2018. If you’re going to splurge on the botanical berry, why not make it count? Here are 13 ways to “daintily prepare and serve” the cooked banana, circa 1917:

When Food Costs Soar

Originally published in The Country Gentleman, April 14, 1917

Every wise housekeeper is on the outlook nowadays for ways and means of cutting the high cost of living. With eggs soaring in the 40s and butter in the same locality and the high prices of other things, it behooves womankind to put on thinking caps.

Bananas, frequently spoken of as “the poor man’s fruit,” are well deserving of this title, as they may be purchased at a reasonable price at all seasons of the year. Comparatively few people, however, know the value of the cooked banana, which is truly delicious, when daintily prepared and served as a dessert, vegetable, or supper dish.

Banana Fritters

Fritters. (Shutterstock)

Beat the yolk of one egg and add half a cupful of flour into which has been sifted a teaspoonful of baking powder; add a teaspoonful of sugar, a teaspoonful of olive oil, and lastly, the well-beaten white of the egg. Cut bananas in two lengthwise, then crosswise, squeeze lemon juice over each piece, dip in fritter batter, and fry in hot fat. Drain on paper, sprinkle with powdered sugar, and serve hot.

Fried Bananas

Select firm and rather slender fruit, peel and cut into sections about three inches long. Fry in hot butter, and as the bananas cook, sprinkle with a little sugar and roll about carefully in the frying pan until a light brown all over. Transfer to a hot dish, pouring over them any butter that may remain in the pan. Serve at once.

Bananas Fried in Deep Fat

Bananas fried in deep fat. (Shutterstock)

Remove the peel and coarse threads from four or five bananas and cut the fruit in thin slices. Dip these slices in milk, then dredge lightly with salt, paprika or pepper, and flour. Cover the bottom of the frying basket with the slices and immerse in hot fat. Cook until light brown. Let the slices drain on a piece of brown paper before sending to the table. These can be served as the main food at supper or lunch.

Baked Bananas

Remove skins from six bananas and cut in halves lengthwise. Put in a glass baking dish. Mix two tablespoonfuls of melted butter, one-third of a cupful of sugar, and two tablespoonfuls of lemon juice. Baste the bananas with half the mixture. Bake 20 minutes in a slow oven, basting frequently during baking with the remaining half of the mixture.

These are very much like candied sweet potatoes and can be served in place of them.

Banana Croquettes

Banana croquettes. (Shutterstock)
  • 1 cupful of sweet milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cupful of flour
  • 1/4 teaspoonful of salt
  • 1 teaspoonful of baking powder
  • 1 banana
  • 1 teaspoonful of sugar

Slice the banana thin and stir it into the batter. Drop one spoonful at a time and fry in deep lard. Serve as a vegetable, or a sweet with maple sirup.

Banana Cakes to Be Served with Meat

Select a good-sized banana for each person to be served. Mash each banana with a fork, sprinkle with salt, mix with cracker crumbs, pat out on a board, cut in squares, and brown in a very little fat.

Note: When mixing, be careful to break the fibrous part of the banana so that the pulp is of the proper consistency for making into cakes.

Banana Loaf

Select a small loaf or sponge cake or of angel food, and cut a well in the center. To do this, press a thin tumbler through the center of the loaf, almost to the bottom, then remove the crumbs within the circle left by the tumbler. Fill this hollow with sliced bananas and whipped cream sweetened to taste.

Bananas Baked Whole

Remove peel, dip in lemon juice, roll in fine sifted crumbs. Place in baking pan and bake 15 minutes in hot oven. Serve with whipped cream, sweetened, and flavored with cinnamon.

To vary sliced bananas served with cream and sugar, use lemon sirup over them — the juice of half a lemon and two teaspoonfuls of sugar. This quantity is sufficient for two small bananas.

Banana Pie

Banana pie. (Shutterstock)

Line a pie tin with rich crust. Make a nice custard after your favorite recipe; flavor it with lemon, and add one large banana, chopped fine. Fill the crust with the custard and banana and bake until well set. Let it cool, then pile on top a meringue made from whites of eggs, powdered sugar, and lemon juice. Place in oven until a delicate brown.

Another Banana Pie

  • 1 cupful of sugar
  • 1 teaspoonful of butter, not melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoonfuls of flour
  • 3/4 cupful of boiling water
  • vanilla

Line a deep plate with rich crust and bake to a delicate brown. For filling, cream together the sugar and butter, and then beat in the yolks of eggs and flour, add water and cook, stirring constantly until thick. Add a little vanilla to taste. After cream is cool, slice bananas and fill bottom of pie, covering with cream, then another layer of bananas and another of cream. Put in oven and bake. Cover with beaten whites of the eggs and bake to a delicate brown.

Peaches or oranges may be substituted for the bananas, sugaring them for about one hour before using.

Banana Pudding

  • 2 bananas, cut small
  • 1/2 loaf of bread, crumbed
  • 1/4 of a cupful of sugar
  • 2 tablespoonfuls of butterine [imitation butter made with animal fat]
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cupful of milk

Mix all together and bake 30 minutes.

Scalloped Bananas

Cut half a dozen bananas into half-inch slices. Cut some bread into small pieces, and put a layer of this into the bottom of a buttered baking dish. Add a layer of bananas and half a tablespoonful of lemon juice. A sprinkle of sugar may be used. Repeat these layers until all have been used, having bread as the top layer. Sprinkle the top with sugar, and bake for 30 minutes in a quick oven.

Banana Puffs

For puffs

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cupful of milk
  • 1 cupful of sifted flour

For pulp

  • 2 or 3 large bananas
  • 1 orange
  • 1 teaspoonful of sugar

Beat the whites of the eggs to a stiff froth. To the yolks add the milk, which should be very cold, and a pinch of salt. Mingle thoroughly with a batter whip, and add slowly one cupful of sifted flour, beating vigorously. Lastly add the whites of eggs, lightly folded or chopped in, and then pour this batter into hot gem irons, and bake in a quick oven. If right, they will double their size and be nearly hollow. Fill with banana pulp.

To make this pulp, remove the skin from two or three large bananas, press through a wire strainer, add a teaspoonful of sugar, and the juice of one orange. Beat thoroughly with a fork.

Read “When Food Costs Soar,” by Grace Viall Gray. Published April 14, 1917 in the Post.

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