Quick Recipes and Easy

The Humble Banana

To find a fruit that is close to perfect than look no further than the humble banana. It gratifies hunger pangs from the time its tips are green and its flesh is firm and slightly tart until its golden skin is speckled with brown and the fruit is creamy sweet.

Bananas are in supply all year round and most of the bananas we can buy at the market are from Central America. This fruit is harvested when fully developed but are still green in color. Because the fruit ripens satisfactorily off the tree the bananas are picked at this time even when to be eaten locally.

The two main varieties that we delight in are the Gros Michel and the Cavendish. The Gros Michel is huge and long with a tapered tip and thick yellow skin and the Cavendish are shorter, squatter and curved with a thinner yellow skin. Connoisseurs prefer the Cavendish as they describe the flavor of the Gros Michel as just ‘adequate.’

Although we tend to just buy the Gros Michel and the Cavendish in the States there are over a hundred different variety of banana cultivated across the world. Thankfully more and more of these varieties are becoming available here in the States which allows us to become somewhat more adventurous. There are handsome red skinned bananas, which have a sweet, faintly pink flesh. Then there are the Sabas and Brazilians, which are very straight and ripen to tartness. Finger sized Mansano bananas have a sweet tart taste.

Whichever banana you buy always select plump bananas with vibrant looking skin. Should the skin appear dull, the fruit may have been hurt by cold and will not ripen.

Bananas are very susceptible to bruising, but superficial brown lines on the skin indicating nicks and scratches most likely will have not harmed the fruit inside. If the whole area on the skin is dark, it indicates that the bruise is more than skin deep. Make sure that the skin is intact as an opening in the envelope invites spoilage.

Bananas should be allowed to ripen at room temperature and out of the sun. They should be turned daily. Ripe bananas can be place in the refrigerator but their skins will blacken.

To prepare a banana just peel it and remove the fibrous strings. If cutting a banana coat the pieces with citrus juices to keep them from darkening.

After cooking a banana becomes even sweeter. They can be baked, grilled, broiled and sautéed. If you wish to mash a banana for stirring into a batter then make sure you use fruit that is fully ripe. Grilled bananas are a fun way to end a barbecue and only take 30 seconds to a minute. To add the finishing touch sprinkle with ground cinnamon or ground ginger or both.

Bananas can also be frozen and dried. Frozen bananas are wonderful for smoothie making!

Bananas are so versatile and can be eaten alone, cooked or served alongside ice cream. Chocolate ice cream and bananas were made for each other.

Michael Russell
Your Independent guide to bananas-guide.com/ Bananas

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