If you’ve ever tried to store homemade banana baby food for any length of time, then you’ve probably noticed that it tends to turn a dark and unappealing brown!
Mum Rashita from London in the UK wrote to us this week to ask if the banana is still safe for her little one to eat once it’s turned brown… and if there is any way she could prevent it from happening.
Well, bananas turn brown when cut because they contain an enzyme called polyphenol oxidase. Quite simply, this enzyme reacts with oxygen upon exposure and discolours the flesh of the fruit.
But – as unappetizing as it may then look – the process does NOT involve any type of decomposition and the fruit is still perfectly safe to eat.
The ARE, however, a few ways to minimize the problem…
- Try stirring a little fruit juice (lemon, orange or pineapple) into your pureed or mashed banana. But please note that some babies react to the acid in citrus fruits, so you may want to check with your doctor first.
- Mix the banana with natural yogurt. Not only does this help reduce the browning, it adds a nice dose of calcium to the dish!
- Try freezing the dish immediately following preparation, ensuring that it’s covered as it thaws, then serving it as soon as it’s fully thawed.
- The enzyme responsible for the discolouration is less active when heated – so if, for example, you’re making an apple and banana puree, try adding the banana to the cooking pot a few minutes before the apple is done.
- Do you have a vacuum sealer? Since oxidization causes the banana to discolour, you can try preventing oxidization in the first place by vacuum packing your food!
What if the banana was already brown before you peeled or mashed it?
Again, brown spots in bananas are harmless – they’re just an indication of ripeness. In fact, some people like the extra sweetness of bananas once they’ve developed brown spots and won’t eat them any other way!
If, however, the banana has a ‘jellified’ appearance and smells sickeningly sweet, then it is likely past its prime and not ideal for use in your baby food recipes.
The easiest way to solve the problem…
…in our opinion, is to NOT prepare banana baby food in advance.
After all, bananas are one of the easiest foods to prepare for baby – just peel, mash and serve.
You really save very little time by pre-preparing bananas and run the risk of putting your baby off them altogether, by presenting them looking brown and unpleasant rather than fresh and yellow!
If your baby can’t manage a whole banana in one sitting, then either buy the smallest bananas possible or wrap the leftover banana in its own skin and put it in the fridge. It should stay relatively yellow and you’ll probably only need to remove the discoloured cut end before serving.