Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Monkey Butter - Tropical Spread That's Irresistible!

A couple of weeks ago I took my sweetheart to the airport (she was off on another mission to serve people--in this case helping our oldest daughter/husband/and three kids move into their new home) and stopped at NPS, my favorite overstock store, to see what kind of deals they had that day.  The biggest deal was a case of 40 lbs of green bananas for $7 (about 17 cents per pound).  Even though I had no idea how we'd use so many bananas the deal was too good to pass up so I bought a case.  They seemed to take forever to ripen and I nearly gave up on them but then in the last few days they've all seemed to get ripe in rapid succession.  We've eaten many, shared some, frozen a few, and made mounds of banana bread.  However, I couldn't see them go without trying out a tropical spread known as "Monkey Butter".  Think of Apple Butter for an idea of the consistency and uses for this delicious concoction.  I made a big batch using 10 bananas and wound up with about 9 cups of spread.  I was instantly hooked!  These jars of Monkey Butter will not last long in my house.  The primary ingredient in Monkey Butter is bananas which are very nutritious.  Bananas are an excellent source of vitamin B6, soluble fiber, and contain moderate amounts of vitamin C, manganese and potassium. Consumption of bananas may be associated with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer, breast cancer, as well as renal cell carcinoma.

Bananas are native to tropical South and Southeast Asia, and are likely to have been first domesticated in Papua New Guinea, where banana cultivation goes back to at least 5000 BC, and possibly to 8000 BC.  Bananas are a staple starch for many tropical populations. Depending upon cultivar and ripeness, the flesh can vary in taste from starchy to sweet, and texture from firm to mushy.  Bananas are used in so many different ways (e.g. raw, deep fried, baked in their skin, steamed in glutinous rice wrapped in a banana leaf, made into pancakes, chips, used in various stews and curries or cooked, baked or mashed in much the same way as potatoes etc.).

Banana jam may have originated in Uganda during British occupation.  The British brought the method of preserving fruits with sugar to the country and it was quickly adapted for use with the local fruit staple--bananas.  Ugandan banana jam is made with bananas, lemon juice, lime zest, and sugar.  No pectin is required because bananas are rich in it and jams thicken naturally.  "Monkey Butter" is an adaptation of traditional banana jams with other compatible tropical flavors (i.e. the addition of pineapple and coconut).

This spread is a delightful combination of bananas, pineapple, coconut, and citrus that I'm finding irresistible (my favorite so far is to spread a piece of whole wheat toast with peanut butter and a generous layer of this Monkey Butter).  It's easy, nutritious, and delicious.  For my version I cut the already-low sugar content by 1/3 and added some corn starch to improve the consistency.

Here's how to make Monkey Butter - the irresistible tropical spread:

  • 10 Medium-size Bananas - perfectly ripe
  • 4 cups Pineapple chunks (use my Z-Pineapple or 2 or 20 oz. can)
  • 1/2 cup of Grated Coconut blended to nearly a powder
  • 2 cups of white sugar 
  • 1/2 Tbsp Citric Acid or 1/2 cup Lemon Juice 
  • 3 Tbsp Corn Starch
First prepare the canning jars and lids by sterilizing in hot water or in a dishwasher, and keep hot until ready to use.  Peel and slice the bananas, then put all the ingredients into a sauce pan.  Bring to a boil, stirring often, and then reduce to a simmer until thick, occasionally mashing down the fruit.

Fill the clean hot jars, leaving 1/4" headspace, then place a sealing lid on and screw on the ring.  Cover the jars with water in a deep pot and boil for 15 minutes.  Take the jars out and let cool to room temperature.  Any that don't seal should be put in the refrigerator and used first.  The others can be stored in your pantry until you're ready to use them.

Monkey Butter is amazing on toast, where it is a great companion for peanut butter.  You can use it as a crepe filling with Nutella.  It's also wonderful on pancakes, waffles, and muffins too.  Add a couple spoonfuls to your morning yogurt smoothie.  Spoon it over ice cream, making a Banana "Jam" Split, or just eat it by the spoonful straight from the jar.


  1. Just made it with a few differences. Was delicious!!! Thank you! I substituted the corn starch for chia seeds (soaked in mixture). Xylitol and stevia in lieu of the sugar. Half a whole lemon (seeds/peel inc) instead of citric acid. Whole pineapple incl core, instead of canned. Threw all in blendtec and then put in crock pot to cook down.
    Thank you for the recipe!

    1. Thanks Mechele. That sounds wonderful! I have never tried chia seeds as a thickener. I know they are amazingly nutritious. I'll have to try that. Any insight on how to substitute them for other thickeners like corn starch?