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Posted on Jan 12, 2008 | 27 comments

How to make decorative banana wedges

How to make decorative banana wedges

I don’t have anything against making children’s food cute as long as it doesn’t take me much time or effort (yeah, I’m lazy!). Like making little rabbits out of apple slices, this simple garnish that I found in a Japanese bento book is fast and makes a slice of fruit look interesting. Use it to pack a bite of banana in your bento lunch without worrying about a whole banana getting mushy in your bag. Of course, if you’ve got one of those Banana Guard gadgets popular in Japan, you don’t have to worry about a whole banana getting mushy, but this is a cheap, fun alternative. I’d say this could help coax picky eaters into eating banana, but I think bananas are already an easy sell. Am I wrong? (Click here for the full tutorial…)

Decorative bananas (Step #4 of 4)

Decorative bananas (Step #1 of 4)
Use a sharp knife to make an incision right through the middle of the banana, but don’t slice to the very end. The longer the incision, the shallower the angle you’ll be able to make out of the points of the banana and the taller it can be. A two-inch incision gives you a lot of leeway. If using a full-size banana, first cut it in half and make the incision midway up one of the halves. (Note: For maximum safety, place the banana down on a cutting board and face the knife away from you.)
Decorative bananas (Step #2 of 4)
Angle the knife and cut halfway down into the banana. You should be able to feel when the knife makes contact with the first incision.

Turn the banana over and cut the other side at the same angle. The shallower the angle of the cut, the more pointed and pronounced the tips will be.

Decorative bananas (Step #3 of 4)

Separate the two halves, and dip the exposed banana in acidulated water to prevent browning when packed in a lunch. I dipped this in water with lemon juice and Splenda to cut the sourness, but you could also use orange juice, lime juice, cream of tartar, a crushed vitamin C tablet, or even chili pepper for the same effect.

If you want to stand both banana bits up on their ends in your bento lunch, cut the stem end to form a base, and make sure that your lid can close over the banana. If the banana is too tall for your container, cut a little off of the flat end to shorten it (or recut both sides at a wider angle.Lasagna bento lunch for preschooler

EDIT: Here’s a sample lunch that includes the banana wedge; click for lunch details.

FURTHER READING:

27 Comments

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  1. So you’re just poking the knife through the middle, not cutting all the way to the end? Looks pretty cool!

    As for bananas, I think most adults and kids like them, but I can’t stand banana-flavored foods. The banana flavor without the banana is just too much for me. I’ve finally learned to cope with banana bread; my aunt’s so proud of hers it’s hard not to eat it.

  2. @1 from eudyptes: Exactly right, eudyptes! The knife goes through the middle but not all the way to the end — this creates the middle cut so the banana can separate cleanly.

    I’m not so fond of artificial banana flavor (candies, etc.), but baked goods with real bananas are just fine with me.

  3. Bananas are fine – but what I really like is your cutting board! I pretty much want that.

  4. @3 from Lisa: Thanks! I got the cutting board in Costa Rica. I saw another one just like it break apart in the store, so I’m wary of using it for much of anything except display. Evidently once you start cutting on it, it loses the beautiful finish (so I don’t actually cut on it — secret’s out). I found an online source here (no affiliation): http://www.costaricanmarket.com/wocubowiorst.html

  5. I love tips like this! Thanks, and keep them coming. :0)

  6. Hmmm… nifty! I bought an apple this week to try apple rabbits, so maybe I will have to give this a go.

  7. @5 from Mer: My pleasure, Mer! I’ve got photos for another next week.

  8. @6 from milomouse: It really is very simple; try it out!

  9. I used to eat bananas without much hesitation (then again anything I eat now, I think twice about) but now I really have to be in the mood for a banana. And I haven’t been in the mood for a long time I guess. It’s no longer one of those things I can keep on hand and know I’ll eat. But this is really really cute! If I was packing bento for a kid, I would totally figure out how to do this and make them rabbits too =)

  10. Banana’s are still an easy sell on my 1.5 year old but I appreciate the tips. :)

  11. @9 from Yvo: Thanks Yvo! I didn’t eat many bananas until I started keeping them in the house to give my son. Now I probably have them around half of the time, so sending bananas in a lunch is totally feasible.

  12. @10 from Fourleafclover: Right?! Bug’s never objected to bananas, but I really can’t judge by his reaction as he’s pretty easy-going with food.

  13. We weren’t so into bananas until our local co-op changed suppliers to Grow Organic. Wow! They taste so much better and we’re all eating more of them.

    We also discovered the Banana Bunker (US banana protection device). I wouldn’t use it in a lunch for a self-conscious middle school or high schoolers lunch — might get teased. But I tuck a Banana Bunkered banana in my purse for a snack time when I work at daughter’s school.

    http://bananabunker.com/

  14. @13 from Kelly: I showed my husband the Banana Bunker page, and he thinks it looks “ribbed for her pleasure”. I’m not sure which banana protector is less phallic (Banana Guard vs. Banana Bunker), but I definitely like the idea!

  15. I love the fun banana tutorial but frankly I’m more amazed at how tiny that banana is!

  16. Wow, never thought about doing that to a banana,
    They’re so pretty!

  17. Wow…I think the banana bunker wins the phallic award. If I was going in someone’s drawers in their kitchen (looking for a spoon or something) and came across that, I would be embarrased. (And, of course, wonder why they kept those kinds of things in the kitchen) :)

    I’ve also never seen such a cute, tiny banana. Did you just get that in the regular store?

  18. @16 from Cindy: Thanks, Cindy! I thought they were interesting when I saw them.

  19. @17 from Midknyt: Ha ha, if you were going through someone’s drawers in the kitchen you should expect that! ;-)

    Double entendres aside, I got the little Manzano bananas at a little Asian market near me, but I have seen them at Safeway before. They’re sweet, taste a little like apple and strawberry, and are a bit drier than regular bananas. More info here: http://www.melissas.com/catalog/index.cfm?info=no&product_ID=492

  20. Thanks for the tip on a source for the cutting board – I may have to pick one up!

  21. @21 from Loren: The cutting board is definitely pretty pretty for photos, not so practical as an everyday cutting board (see my comment above). BTW, great meeting you the other week at the FoodBuzz dinner! Thanks to your blog, I now know what an “egg clacker” is!

  22. That’s neat! I had to take a break from mini bananas (I buy Chiquita Minis) because they weren’t very good the past three times I got them. However, I might do this with full size bananas! ^__^

  23. @23 from dejikowaffo: I haven’t had such good luck with baby bananas, but the Manzanos I find are usually good as long as I wait until they’re ripe. This little cutting technique works well with full size bananas — try it out!

  24. Ok, I was embrassed when I went to see the banana bunker. Wow! I have seen the banana shape plastic containers. I have never been found of art. banana flavor but I no longer eat the real ones either (upset my tummy). On the other hand my daughter and grandmother love them. So much so I have to keep them in my room (much to my dismay)so they will last more than two days.

  25. Biggie,
    I LOVE your site. I am trying to develope healthier eating habits. I am a secretary in a school and I don’t take a “lunch break” per se. I end up heating up a frozen entree or eating a sandwich at my desk. I have started bringing bento style lunches gathering information from your site. I cant say I am into the true Japanese menu but I’m definately eating a more well balanced meal at lunchtime (without the sodium and preservatives)!! I love reading about what you feed your son!! Thanks for teaching me a bit about bento! Bless you & your family!

  26. Cheers for sharing this wonderful idea.