As I look outside my window I see a dozen beautiful banana trees with large green leaves waving in the breeze. Soon it will freeze in north Texas; my leaves will shrivel and turn brown, and the trunks will collapse when their internal cell structures can no longer hold them upright. This is the time of year when I go outside and “harvest” some leaves to tide me over until next spring when I have access to a fresh crop of leaves.
Freezing banana leaves
Preparing banana leaves to be frozen is a very simple process. I usually select about a dozen leaves that are bright green, not torn and have a minimal amount of yellow or brown edges. I want my leaves to be as perfect as possible. Here are the steps to freezing them:
- Clean the leaves with a wet paper towel to remove any obvious dirt.
- Dry the leaves with a clean paper towel.
- Carefully cut the central vein out of each leaf so you will have two long thin leaf strips. I cut them on a cutting board so I can run the knife across the leave without damaging my counter.
- Cut off any thin strips that tore when the vein was removed. At this point you may want to cut some of the leaves in half or thirds, depending on how you plan to use them in the future.
- Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil.
- Carefully immerse each leaf piece, one at a time, in the pot and blanch it for 30 seconds. Remove from the pot with tongs and carefully lay them flat on the counter until they are dry.
- Fold and lay the leaves in a pile. Place them in a freezer zip top bag and set in the freezer. Often I use several bags so the leaves are not damaged by freezer burn as I remove individual leaves.
Thawing banana leaves
When you are ready to use the leaves, simply place one or two on the counter. Take care not to let the leaves tear until they come to room temperature. The leaves will be soft, pliable and ready to use in a short time. Dry the leaves before using them.
Alternative to freezing the leaves yourself
Now that you have read through my entire post, frozen packages of banana leaves are available at many Asian grocery stores. This can save you some time or give you an option if the leaves are not available where you live.
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