What to do when you have ripe bananas but very little interest or will to make yet another banana bread? Homemade (fermented) banana ketchup to the rescue!
It is one of the easiest condiments to make, and you will be sparing yourself the refined sugar or corn syrups and preservatives usually found in commercial ketchups. The high sugar content of the fruit itself makes it hospitable to quick fermentation, so I decided to give it a try.
My siblings and I loved banana ketchup growing up. A popular Filipino sawsawan, we enjoyed it as an all-purpose dip for anything fried–including fried bananas. It was invented by Filipino food chemist and war hero Maria Orosa given the shortage of tomatoes in the country at the time. Orosa was also passionate about making the country food sufficient and worked hard to promote reliance on our native bounty rather than imported ingredients.
This fermented banana ketchup uses three ferments:
- First, the fermented bananas. I used ripe saba in this recipe but you can use other varieties–just make sure they are still firm.
- Next is the binurong bawang and its brine to kickstart the fermentation. You can of course skip this and just use garlic powder and, if you don’t have enough brine, a solution of 1 cup of filtered water and 2 tsp of sea salt.
- Lastly is vinegar, and here I used apple cider vinegar, which was the only one with no spices in my pantry. You are free to use any naturally fermented local vinegar.
I used coconut sugar in this recipe, which has low glycemic index compared to white sugar. If you want to make this without any granulated sugar, use dates! Just pit and soak 7 to 10 dates in warm water, drain, then blitz them until smooth with the rest of the ingredients in the blender.
The tomato paste in this recipe gives the banana ketchup its trademark red color and that familiar tomato umami. You can use less than what is recommended and use a sweeter banana variety if you want the banana flavor to shine through. Start with a teaspoon and work your way from there a teaspoon at a time, tasting as you add and blend.
To make the fermented bananas
- 3 ripe saba (or 4 small ripe bananas)
- 1 Tbsp fermented garlic starter liquid
- 1 cup water
- 1 pinch of salt
To make the fermented banana ketchup
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp minced ginger
- 1 to 2 cloves of fermented garlic or ½ tsp garlic powder
- 2 to 3 Tbsp coconut sugar
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- 3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- To make the fermented bananas: mix water, fermented garlic starter liquid, water, and a pinch of salt in a jar. Peel and slice the bananas, and transfer to the jar. Weigh the bananas down and let them ferment for just 2 to 3 days and use when they are bubbly.
- Once the bananas are fermented, drain the fruit and set aside ⅓ cup of the fermented brine or banana starter liquid.
- To make the ketchup: in a blender, add the drained fermented bananas, the ⅓ cup of the fermented brine, and the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth. Add more brine for the consistence you want. Taste and adjust sweetness and acidity according to preference.
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