You’re looking at a luxurious breakfast, fragrant with flavors of the tropics. If you want to close your eyes and feel transported to a sunny veranda, I recommend this recipe as a starting point. You can almost feel the ocean breeze, and while it’s distinctly tropical, I can’t tell you if you’re in the Caribbean, southeast Asia, or on a Pacific island… that’s up to your imagination, and the flavors you choose to pair with it.
In addition to offering a vacation in a jar, this is also a recipe for those times when your bananas are browning faster than you can handle. I didn’t know that banana jam was even a thing until a friend from my RD program enlightened me, and I am so glad she did. If I end up with overripe bananas, I don’t often muster up the enthusiasm to bake banana bread. I usually just toss the neglected fruits in a freezer bag for smoothies, but I love having this easy option for a little something special.
When researching a banana jam strategy, the thing that bothered me about the recipes I encountered was the crazy-high amount of added sugar… seriously, sometimes equal volumes of fruit and sugar. Bananas are already so full of natural sweetness!
I know that jams are typically highly sweetened because it helps the “set” – the thickness of the gel after cooling. BUT, I also know that bananas are naturally rich in pectin, a soluble fiber found in plant cell walls – the other factor that helps solidify jam. I suspected that the pectin levels in bananas would allow me to achieve properly thickened jam with less sugar… and I was stoked to find that it worked! Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a sweet treat. But definitely more pure banana flavor, less cloying sweetness!
The procedure is super simple; unlike banana bread, there are only 5 ingredients, and most of them you can eyeball without having to measure. You can tell that the jam is ready when you’re able to “part the Red Sea,” if you will, as shown in the following ugly photo. It will only expose the pan’s bottom for a split second before melding back down – it was really hard to get that shot, with the wooden spoon in one hand and DSLR in the other! This method may not be reliable for all jams, but for this recipe it’s a good indicator and totally easy.
Since we’re talking about jam, we have to talk about canning. Specifically, about how you are NOT going to can this jam. While googling recipes, I found many authors providing instructions for water-bath canning and my inner food scientist was horrified! Bananas are not safe to can at home due to their very low acidity and because the thickness of the gel is too impermeable to heat. Not even in a pressure-canner. Don’t risk it! Just make a small batch, refrigerate it, and eat it within 2 or 3 weeks.
On my next post, I’ll share a new extra-special indulgent brunch recipe that makes use of this jam… But until then, these are all the ways I’m dreaming of spreading this sweetness:
- As a topping for French toast/waffles/pancakes, with a sprinkle of coconut
- In a parfait with yogurt and granola (…bonus points for adding dark chocolate)
- Atop oatmeal, combined with other complimentary toppings (might I suggest walnuts and blueberries?)
- As the J in your PB&J!
If you have any other genius applications for banana jam, let’s discuss!