Ready or Not #32: Bananas, Apples, and Mashed Potatoes

The problem with fruits like apples and bananas are that they have too much natural sugar (and that is why everyone loves to eat them), but you just can’t keep them looking nice once they have been sliced, and when they go brown, nobody will touch them! What a waste!

My friend called me a couple of weeks ago and she was all excited. She had found a way to make sliced bananas stay fresh looking without the use of lemon juice, which we all know just makes them slimy and sour. She told me, and you probably won’t believe this, but if you put the banana, with it’s peeling still on, into boiling water for 45 seconds and then let the banana cool down, you can peel and slice it and it won’t go brown! She added her bananas to a fruit salad and the bananas were still just as pretty and white on the third day, as it was when she first added them.

Usually I want to try everything out before I tell you about it because it gives me a good excuse to try yummy things and I want to make sure they work, but I wanted to give you this tip before Thanksgiving and I didn’t have time to try it. Actually, I did have time and I even had the bananas, but by the time I actually got enough of my “gotta’ do” list done – the bananas were gone. Next time I’m taking a magic marker and placing dibs on my banana. Go ahead and try it for your favorite Thanksgiving dishes like your fruit salad, Jell-O salad or homemade banana cream pie and I bet that it will be the hit of the meal.

A second tip that she gave me was about apples. She said that as you are slicing them, put them into a bowl of cold 7-Up. Now, I don’t know the science behind this, but I’m kind of thinking that it has something to do with the ascorbic acid, but there could also be some beneficial properties to the sugar or maybe even the carbonation – I don’t know. The only thing that I really know is that it works and that is good enough for me. The next time 7-Up is on sale, pick some up for your food storage.

That reminds me, if your family is really into carbonated drinks – ‘tis the season. Soda pop goes on sale in November and December for a pretty good price and you might want to stock up. If you are like my family and only use soda pop for special occasions you might still want to stock up, but just put it out of sight otherwise it might get rotated just a little too fast. Buy the pop in the 2 liter bottles and then use the bottles for water storage! (Two gallons, per person, per day, for a two week period.)

The last tip that she gave was brilliant. Kind of one of those “duh – why didn’t I think of that” ideas. She and I both buy the big bags of potatoes and when mine start getting old I start force feeding my family potatoes for every meal. She on the other hand does something much smarter (keep in mind that it is always better to run around with people smarter than you).

She will boil all of her potatoes up and make a massive amount of mashed potatoes. She likes to season them with dry ranch dressing, bacon, seasoning salt or even grated cheese and you can’t go wrong with garlic. She then loads the seasoned mashed potatoes into a large pastry bag with the biggest tip they make, and squeezes out beautiful dollop sized servings onto a cookie sheet. She then puts them into the freezer and once they are frozen she puts them into a Zip-lock bag or an airtight container and stores them in the freezer. When she is throwing a quick dinner together she takes them out and puts a little bit of butter on the top and warms them up in the oven. Could it be any easier? She will also use these when she has unexpected guests and believe me, they are impressed every time (and they don’t even know that they came out of the freezer).

If you are like me, and don’t have a pastry bag, just snip off the end of a Zip-lock bag and squirt it out that way OR you can spoon it on to the cookie sheet in nice little mounds with an indent in the middle. That would probably be the way I would do it, even though I know that her way would look much nicer and be more impressive. Maybe I’ll put some parsley next to mine to make it look nice.

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