So every man and his dog is banging on about food waste so it was a fantastic opportunity this Autumn for Feeney to get his head down in the development kitchen with some other chefs to do a little experimenting with a rather interesting ingredient! This is not the first time we’ve talked about Green Banana flour and we don’t think it will be the last.  We all know Feeney is completely bananas so getting to grips experimenting with GB flour turned out to be a brilliant challenge, this time he invited along an enthusiastic young lady at the start of her career in the food industry to help. While studying food science Emma Kelly found her niche – flour! So this month Feeney has invited Emma to input her personal view of helping to find ways to use this incredibly versatile ingredient – Green Banana Flour and opens up endless opportunities in food & bakery production.

“I Think I’ve Gone Bananas…”
It was a very normal weekday in the Bakery at The Sheffield College when I was invited down to the restaurant to ‘meet someone’ Feeney and I got along like a house on fire and within minutes were as excited as kids on Christmas Day, planning when we could meet properly to discuss my potential role in one of his innovation projects. 2 weeks later and I was sat at my kitchen table staring at two grades of Green Banana Flour in separate bags, wondering where to start!
Bananas are harvested at the most efficient time possible, but as with most ripening, there will be a percentage of product that is not ready when harvest takes place. Green Banana Flour is exactly what it sounds like; a flour milled from underripe bananas. Being high in proteins and resistant starches and suggested to have low Glycaemic Index as well as contributing to healthy digestion, GB Flour could possibly be an excellent inclusion to some of the masses of Wheat-containing products consumed daily.
The way we consume food today is simply unsustainable and, while it may seem like a world away before we really have to worry, the amount of wasted food products across the globe is truly astounding. The first step we can take to tackle this is through large companies that can lift new products off the ground. Replacing a proportion of the wheat flour it was used to create a delicious product with added health benefits could make a significant impact on the reduction of food waste.
Initially, I tested the GB Flour’s reaction to hydration and heat, blending it with water at different ratios and then heating this to >85°C (most starches will gelatinise somewhere between 55-85°C). Lots of what can only be described as sticky masses of goo went in my bin that day (post-analysis, of course). My next step was to attempt a pastry recipe with 100% GBF replacing wheat flour to see how it could stand alone, the short answer being: not so well. So, a short way into this development process, I found myself wondering what I had got myself in to or if I had bitten off more banana than I could chew! Would my amateur, at-home testing and development work be underwhelming to a group of high-flying professionals?

I began using the GBF at inclusions by weight in conjunction with Wheat Flour which was able to act as a carrier for this product. Immediately I started seeing results that were not only adequate structurally, but very tasty. The flavours coming through from each type of GBF were wonderfully different and within a couple more days I had absolutely fallen in love with the stuff. Around 3 weeks of baking, tasting and remaking saw the development of 6 new products that I was proud to present to Feeney and his excellent team.
To get such a close insight into the development work of this team was a massive eye-opener for me; seeing the way they seamlessly bounced ideas off each other and listening to their visionary perspective on the food industry both taught and humbled me. It was a day full of passionate discussion, knowledgeable professionals and limitless creativity. I was honoured to be given the time and attention to present my findings and felt thrilled with the team’s reaction to the taste and quality of my products. My experience and research in Bakery Technology helped me greatly to understand how GBF could be used in baked products and I hope that this project is pursued further as I adore the flavours and textures that it can deliver and can see it making a real difference. Hopefully we’ll be seeing lots more Green Banana Flour on product ingredients lists in the future.

Written by The Flour Queen aka Emma Kelly

“It has been great to be able to hand over my blog to Emma this month, her drive and enthusiasm is just what we need in our industry. We need to nurture and encourage young people to develop their passion with perhaps a little guidance along the way – giving back in this way to me means a huge amount and is so rewarding. I’d love to offer other young people the opportunity to work with me and contribute to my blog too – I’m all ears!” John Feeney.