The Sweet Addition That Will Change Your Banana Bread Forever

What do avocados and bananas have in common? (And no, this isn't a joke.) Much like the avocado, — which seems to take up space on kitchen countertops, rock-hard and underripe for a week, before reaching peak ripeness for about thirty minutes and then going irreparably mushy and overripe — bananas continue to ripen after they're harvested. According to the Post Harvest Center at the University of California, both bananas and avocados are climacteric fruits, meaning they don't have to be ripe when picked, and they also emit ethylene, a natural plant hormone, which ripens fruit.

Why does it matter that a banana is a climacteric fruit? It means those hard, starchy, not-very-sweet, green bananas are going to ripen, and there's little you can do about it. There are methods like freezing and refrigerating that may buy you some extra time when it comes to keeping bananas ripe, but really, the best use for a banana that's a bit past its prime is to transform it into a thrifty cook's favorite dessert to prevent throwing out this finicky fruit: banana bread. But just because you're using up produce before it spoils, that doesn't mean you can't make your baked goods absolutely delicious. Here's an ingredient that will kick up the flavor in your banana bread.

Add some real maple syrup to your banana bread

While your decision to bake banana bread may be prompted by finding a use for overripe bananas, Taste of Home offers up some great suggestions for making your banana bread better. Sure, you can throw in some chocolate chips or a handful of nuts, but we're a big fan of maple syrup as well. Maple and banana make sense together, of course. What else would you drizzle on those banana pancakes? Maple syrup is just as good in your banana bread. An important note: Make sure you choose real maple syrup, rather than imitation stuff, for the best results.

Maple syrup in banana bread adds some sweetness, so you may want to adjust the amount of sugar you use. Most importantly, maple syrup adds rich, natural flavors that complement the flavor of your bananas. And while real maple syrup is a delicious addition, you can kick up the flavor even more by using a bourbon barrel-aged maple syrup, like the one made by Silloway Maple in Vermont. You'll get smooth, oaky complexity that will shine through in your banana bread. Banana bread doesn't have to be basic and adding in unexpected ingredients like cream cheese and maple syrup can turn your banana bread from an afterthought into the star of your breakfast or brunch lineup. Sounds like it's time to get baking.