A little bit of heaven is a ripe, fragrant, soft-fleshed banana, mashed with a fork with just a little brown sugar and piled on to thick slices of buttered crusty wholemeal bread.

That, and a cup of freshly brewed tea, can give anyone renewed strength in the middle of a working day.

When choosing bananas, remember that to be ripe enough to eat, the skins must be all yellow with no green bits near the stalk. Also, the riper they are the better they taste – sweeter and more fragrant. A really ripe and ready-to-eat banana will have little brown freckles on its yellow skin, but be warned: ripe and ready means just that, so eat it soon or it might be a little too ripe tomorrow! Remember, too, that bananas come from hot countries and hate the cold, so never, ever put them in the fridge, as the shock of it turns them black.

Bananas also tend to discolour if they are exposed to the air, so if you are preparing them for a recipe they should be tossed in lemon juice if they have to wait around. However, when they're submerged and cut off from the air they stay creamy white with no problem. The recipe for Toffee-fudge Bananas with Toasted Nuts is one of the simplest and easiest desserts I know.

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