Bananas are available all year round, but in the months when there is less fresh seasonal fruit around, bananas are good stand-bys. They are grown in India, China, Africa, South and Central America, Australia and the Caribbean. The Windward Islands, in particular, produce a high-quality crop.Under-ripe bananas are green and reach their peak when they are yellow, with a very light speckling of brown. At this stage, the starch has been converted to sugar and they have a sweet taste with a firm texture. Over-ripe fruit can be used in cooking, but often the strong “banana” taste is overwhelming. If banana slices are to be used as decoration they need to be dipped briefly, or painted with lemon or lime juice as they discolour on contact with air, then coated with an apricot glaze.Generally, it is best to mash the bananas for use in cakes, breads and muffins. Banana bread can be varied by using different spices, chocolate, dried fruits and nuts. They can be put, cut in chunks or sliced down their length, in bread-and-butter puddings or crumbles. Try including crushed Amaretti biscuits instead of some of the flour and sugar in the topping.In season: all year – from different parts of the worldFiona Burrell, co-author of Leiths Baking Bible, from the world-famous Leiths School of Food and Wine in London
Weetabix has grown revenues and profits in its first full year of ownership by China’s Bright Food Group. Turnover for the year to 28 December 2013 increased by 3.3% to £366.4m, while operating profit before exceptional items was up 2.2% to £102.5m, according to sister title The Grocer.The company described the results as “ultimately satisfactory” following a challenging trading period. It attributed the growth to continued brand investment, ongoing innovation and strong customer relationships.It has also launched new front-of-pack labelling highlighting that Weetabix is low in salt, fat and sugar.Clare Canty, Weetabix senior brand manager, said the new pack was designed to remind customers about the “nutritional strength” of the brand. “From listening to our customers, we know that health is one of the biggest motivating factors in their decision making process,” she said.“As such, we wanted to make it easier than ever for people to remember that when it comes to providing a nutritional and tasty start to the day, Weetabix really is the number one choice that the whole family can enjoy.”Weetabix has faced difficulty as consumers turn to own-label products and the discounters rather than paying for premium brands. As a result, it has invested in new product development, launching the Weetabix On The Go breakfast biscuit in apple and cinnamon; fruit and fibre; and milk and cereals varieties to grab a share of the booming breakfast market.