Bananas are very user-friendly. They travel beautifully, require no wrapper, need no washing and they are highly nutritious. The reliable banana is one of few fruits compatible with milk on cereal. It is also creamier than most fruits, less tart, as well. This, sometimes, makes it difficult to mentally classify bananas as a fruit.
Bananas grow on plants around 20 feet tall, in clusters of over 100 composed of bunches of 20, or so. Though there are countless varieties of bananas, they all come under only two headings, the sweet , for fruit uses, and the plantain, which is not sweet, more vegetable-like and requires cooking. Fruit bananas are most familiar in their yellow skins, but they can project purple, red or pink tones when ripened. They do vary in sweetness, starchiness and size. The Cavendish is most popular in the US. We are starting to receive more of the Burro banana, a short banana, Blue Javas with a silver-toned skin and quite creamy, Manzanos, which have a hint of strawberries and Lady Fingers, which as the name implies, are small, curved and quite sweet.
Bananas are harvested unripe and green, in order for them to be consumed ripe after they arrive in their destination market. They were not imported into the U.S. until late in the 19th century, when cargo ships were equipped with refrigeration.
Banana history takes us to the regions of Malaysia 4,000 years ago where it spread through the Philippines back in the 300s B.C. They arrived in Africa via Arabian tradesmen, where in 1492 A.D., Portuguese traders readily brought them to the tropical Central Americas where the majority of them are grown today.
Rich in vitamins B6 and C, potassium, manganese, biotin and copper, bananas are known for their potassium. However, they are not the richest in this. Beans, milk, apricots, carrots, green bell peppers and potatoes have higher amounts of potassium. More antioxidents are present in a fully-ripened banana.
A fully-ripe Cavendish banana is greenish-yellow with touches of brown as it ripens. Purchasing bananas can be a thought-provoking process. Ideally, you know what days new bananas will be eaten, then choose shades of greenness to yellowness according to your delayed, anticipated use schedule.
Though bananas have tough skins, they are actually quite fragile. Protect them from extreme temperatures, and they are best kept at room temperature. Refrigeration runs contrary to the banana ripening process. Additionally, bananas should be firm but not hard and bright in color. Stems and tips must be in tact, and the size according to your plans for use.
Underripe, green bananas may be placed in a brown bag with a tomato or apple, overnight, to hasten ripening. Pureed bananas may be frozen for up to 60 days. A small amount of lemon juice will prevent discoloration.
- Baked goods
- Baked or microwaved
- Banana split/ice cream sundae
- Bananas Foster
- Bread, muffins
- Cream pies
- Fruit cup/gelatins
- On all types cereal
- Pancakes, waffles
- Peanut butter sandwich
Below are foodsites with banana recipes.