James Beard Award-winning Cookbook Author

Banana Muffins with Dried Cranberries

What is the world’s most popular fruit?

Did you know that bananas are the world’s most popular fruit? When Dorothy and I were writing A Is For Apple, we thought apples were, but our copy editor corrected that notion. Who knew?

How do bananas grow?

Banana plants grow mostly in tropical areas, and they grow quickly.  Bananas grow from banana flowers. These large, purple structures can give rise to dozens of small fruits.  The bananas are harvested green; they’re hardy and can be shipped all over the world. In their new destinations bananas ripen and turn into their familiar yellow color.

Where can I find different banana varieties?

In farmers markets, banana sellers usually have tables full of many different banana varieties.  Bananas galore. Starting from the left and working rightward are 7 or 8 different varieties. The yellow ones are fully ripe. (photo by Dorothy Patent; Her shadow’s in the picture)  Some bananas, such as Thai bananas, are great to cook with. But our favorite, the apple banana, is great to eat out of hand and to bake with.

Are Banana flowers edible?

The banana flowers are miracles of reproduction. I dissected one and discovered layer upon layer of leaves with tiny bananas between them. I had read that these bananas were edible and I spent hours following directions online for how to ready them for cooking. In the end, I decided the result was not worth the effort. But I learned a lot about banana flower anatomy!

Ever since, I’ve limited my cooking with bananas to cakes, cupcakes, muffins, puddings and ice cream.

Here’s a new recipe.

Banana Muffins with Dried Cranberries

Servings 12 large muffins


  • 1 full size muffin tin (12 cups)


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (250 gm) spooned into the cup and leveled
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoons table salt  or 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup mashed ripe banana (about 2 medium)
  • ¾ cup sour cream (full fat)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • cup coconut oil or melted butter
  • 1 cup sweetened dried cranberries


  • Adjust an oven rack to the center position and preheat the oven to 350˚F. Lightly coat a 12-cup regular size muffin pan with cooking spray or brush the cups with softened butter.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together thoroughly the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Take about 30 seconds for this step.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs until well-combined. Then whisk in the mashed banana, sour cream, vanilla, and coconut oil or butter.
  • Add about one-third of the dry ingredients and stir them in with the whisk. Repeat twice more with the remaining dry ingredients, whisking until smooth. Stir in the cranberries.
  • Divide the batter evenly into the muffin cups. The cups will be almost full. Bake for 23 to 25 minutes, until the muffins dome up and spring back when their tops are pressed gently. A toothpick should come out clean.
  • Cool the muffins in their pan for 10 minutes, then remove them to a cooling rack. The muffins are delicious warm or at room temperature. Store leftovers in an airtight container. The muffins are at their best when very fresh.

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