I hate waste. That's one reason I love my chickens so much: they turn that flabby uneaten lunchtime sandwich, squished into the yogurt container and kept in a warm schoolbag for the last six hours, into fresh eggs. They also eat buckets of compost from our local organic veggie store: outside leaves of cauliflowers, slightly wilted stalks of rainbow chard, bruised avocadoes and other goodies. The veggie store saves on garbage disposal costs, and my chickens stay happy.
My aversion to waste also means that, although we try to eat a significant proportion of food from local sources, when I see squishy brown bananas going cheap at that same veggie store, I buy them. They're terrific for after-school smoothies and, of course, muffins. Unlike Barbara Kingsolver's household, which had a total banana ban during their year of local food (see their fascinating book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle), I tell myself that squishy brown bananas are waste to be used up, and I can save them from the trash for only a dollar or two. It's kind of like dumpster diving, only a day earlier and slightly more expensive.
Our latest squishy banana muffin experiment has involved the Chilean guava, also known as the myrtus berry. Here I must admit that, a few years ago, I bought a Chilean guava bush then promptly forgot to water it the first summer; predictably, it died. But Chilean guavas do grow well in Melbourne; we've devoured a few punnets from Coburg, and they pop up at farmer's markets from time to time. You can also buy the less local Tazziberry, which is the Chilean guava carefully bred, and re-named and re-branded as a Tasmanian fruit.
Chilean guavas taste like, well, guavas. That is, they are a bit pineapple-y, a bit apple-y, a bit strawberry-y, with a hint of vanilla. They are headily fragrant, and a punnet will send tendrils of fragrance through your kitchen.
The fruit look like little red blueberries. Because they are so small, Chilean guavas are eaten whole. They can be a bit rough in your mouth, slightly grainy but not unpleasant; however, where they really shine is in muffins. The fruit soften and swell, retaining their scent, so that muffins come out sweetly fragrant and studded with little explosions of juicy fruit.
What follows is a straightforward recipe, very easy and very delicious. As with all baking, muffins come out lightest when the ingredients are at room temperature. If you have a little milk in your fridge starting to go sour, even better; your muffins will come out ethereal. Between sour milk and squishy bananas, what follows is a brilliant way to use up leftovers.
Chilean Guava Choc Chip Banana Muffins
- 2 squishy bananas
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease or line a muffin pan.
Mash the bananas with a fork. Mix in the brown sugar. In another bowl, lightly beat the egg, then mix in the milk and oil, and add this to the bananas.
Place the flour and salt into a large bowl and whisk them together. Make a well, and add all the banana glop at once. Quickly mix with the fork, then add in the Chilean guavas and the choc chips. Combine quickly but gently. The batter is very wet.
Slop it into muffin pans – I get 15 small muffins, but a sensible person with larger children would make 12 big ones. Slip them into the oven for 25 minutes. The muffins are done when their tops are slightly springy to the touch.
Incidentally, the photo shows my waste-not muffin on a waste-not plate – discovered on the side of the road during a hard rubbish collection. It leads me to ask what sort of maniac puts eight English willow side plates, dusty but unchipped, out in the rubbish?! You're crazy, whoever you are, but thanks anyway. I think I'll take my muffin and eat it on my waste-not bench.
(Local: Chilean guavas, egg. Saved from the bin: squishy bananas, souring milk. Not local but fair trade: choc chips (can you believe it?! I must admit they are not as large nor as deliciously melting as other choc chips, but that's a sacrifice I'm prepared to make for fair trade.). Mysterious provenance: flour, brown sugar, vegetable oil, salt.)