When the bushel of bananas on the counter begins showing its age (or, for Haligonians, attracting fruit flies) many throw it straight into the freezer, peel-on, for a rainy day banana bread. If you have bigger dreams for your frozen bananas consider peeling, cutting, and placing them in a bag, that way the banana can more easily be used in recipes other than sweet bread, like banana base ice cream.
Whether for a smoothie or for the healthy vegan ice cream ideas below, use peeled, frozen bananas. Use the frozen banana slices sooner than later, ideally within a week of freezing, otherwise their texture will be too slimy in the ice cream. The color of the banana will change the taste and texture of the imitation ice cream. Go for bananas more in the white or the pale yellow spectrum of color, rather than deep yellow or brown.
The magic of making imitation ice cream with banana is the fruit’s creamy texture. While other fruits would need to be blended with dairy to achieve a smooth texture, bananas are ideal for making frozen treats.
When I made this banana based ice cream I was in Sayulita, Mexico, and had to use the limited resources and instruments at hand, but making this cheap and healthy snack is very easy with either a food processor or an industrial type blender.
Vegan Banana Ice Cream
Preparation time: 3 minutes
Makes: 6 cups, or 4 small servings
Ingredients for plain Vegan Banana Ice Cream base:
•4 large bananas, peeled, cut into chunks or slices and pre-frozen
•1/3 cup coconut milk or soy milk
•1 Tbsp of sugar
•1/2 tsp vanilla extract, or the seed paste from half a vanilla bean pod
In a food processor or industrial blender, puree the frozen bananas, sugar and vanilla. Gradually add the coconut milk to the mix, watching that the ice cream stays a thick, scoop-able consistency. Depending upon on the flavor variation or the ripeness of the bananas, more or less milk may be needed. Keep pureeing until smooth.
This is a dessert that has to be served immediately, and unfortunately, can’t be frozen. The ice cream will get as hard as ice if frozen after the fact, and does not thaw or soften well, so make only what you need. Garnish as desired.
For variations, add these ingredients to the food processor for the last few seconds of blending:
Mexi: add 1 tbsp chopped cilantro to mix, and garnish with mango slices
Choco-nut: add 2 tbsp of Nutella, and ¼ cup of pecan halves to mix, garnish with chopped dark chocolate
PB & J: add 2 tbsp of peanut butter and 1 ½ tbsp. of fruit jam to the mix
Coconut plus: add two heaping tbsp of sweetened coconut flakes to the mix
Mint chocolate chip: add 2 tbsp chopped mint leaves to the mix, and then fold semi-sweet chocolate chips into the ice cream, with a spatula, after it’s pureed