Bananas have been around for centuries, first appearing in India. The Ancient Greeks ate banana and baked bread. It is uncertain, though, whether they made banana bread. The Ancient Romans made sweet breads.
There is some dispute as to when bananas made their way to America: one website says New York City markets were selling the fruit as early as 1830; other websites say bananas were not imported until the 1870's.
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Nonetheless, without the invention of baking soda and baking powder, people would have been hard pressed to bake quick breads (although apparently pearlash was used to leaven breads in the early 1800's). With the introduction of baking soda and baking powder in the 1930's, baking was revolutionized.
It is assumed that a Great Depression era housewife, not wanting to throw away food, used her overripe bananas to make the first banana bread. The first official recipe appeared in Pillsbury's Balanced Recipes in 1933. Another recipe appeared in the Chiquita Banana Cookbook in the 1950's.
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However, it was not until the 1960's, that banana bread really became popular. As far back as I can remember, my Mom used to bake banana bread. When I got married my sister wrote out the recipe for me to use and now I bake it for my kids.
Variations on traditional banana bread recipes may include: nuts, chocolate chips, blueberries and yogurt.
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ORIGINAL CHIQUITA BANANA RECIPE
4 bananas, ripened
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup wheat bran
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup walnuts
t tablespoon honey
Mix wet ingredients including two bananas. Chop up the other two bananas for the top of the bread. Mix the dry ingredients. Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Place the chopped bananas on top. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 60 minutes.