Bananas, bananas, bananas... Everything's going bananas!

Here it is the end of summer already, but the bananas don’t know about it.  There’s about a dozen bunches in our patch plus 2 more new blooms and I’ve just harvested 2 bunches (17 hands) to share with locals and friends.  For some reason our little patch in Whale Bay on the Tasman Sea is in a little subtropical micro clime as our figs, limes, bananas and feijoas all do so well here.

Let me tell the story behind these Cambodian highland bananas, which are sweet, firm even when very ripe and has a lovely fragrant tropical flavour.  When we first moved out to the “bay” over 20 years ago, I noticed the huge patch of local bananas in the reserve next to our property and couldn’t wait for some of those bunches I spied to ripen.  When they finally did, I was disappointed that although they had a slightly sweet taste, they were full of large seeds and there was hardly any flesh to eat, so I ended up just using the leaves for decoration and plating, wrapping food for steaming & baking and the stumps (trunks) shredded to line the occasional imu (hangi) we had to remind me of Hawaii.  A few months later one of the Cambodian gals that I had befriended when consulting at K-Market, an iconic fruit and veg wholesaler/retailer in the Waikato in the 80’s and early 90’s, called to say she had a gift for me.  It seems her brother had come from the homeland and was , somehow, able to bring in a keiki (baby) banana plant which grew in their backyard in Hamilton and now has another keiki, so she wanted to share this new shoot with me.  The rest is history as we have been having bananas by the bunches for years and I have given away and shared this wonderful plant as a gift with many friends and acquaintances, far and wide in NZ.  Always happy to share a good thing.  And another good thing is this great moist banana cake...ENJOY!


1 cup butter or butter/margarine
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
3 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 Tbsp vanilla 
1 cup chopped walnuts, optional
1 cup fresh or desiccated long shredded coconut, optional
1 3/4 cups bananas, mashed

Cream butter and sugar till pale or about 10 minutes. Add eggs one at a time and beat in. Add sour cream and mix/beat. Combine flour, baking powder and baking soda, sift and add to mix. Add vanilla, nuts, and coconut if using. Fold in bananas. Pour into lined tray (22.5 x 28cm) and spread for an even surface.

Bake at 180 degrees celsius for 35-40 minutes. Yield: approximately 20 medium-sized serves.