Not all Bananas are created the same, depending on the variety bananas are used from eating as a sweet hand fruit, baked in everything from cakes, muffins and breads, used in many types of drinks and in parts of the world certain varieties are cooked and consumed as a starch staple.
Bananas are native to hot, humid tropical regions like Central America and the Caribbean. Most of the bananas you buy are grown within 10 degrees on either side of the equator.
Cavendish banana is the most common and popular eating banana in the world, usually five to eight inches long, harvested green and begin ripening as soon as the banana stem is cut from the plant. Banana ripeness is classified into seven peel color stages, ranging from dark green to yellow flecked with brown. As the banana ripens, its starch converts to sugar. The yellowier the banana, the creamier and sweeter it tastes.
Baby/Nino banana is about three inches long. When they are ripe, they turn bright yellow and have a rich, sweet flavor, and creamy texture. This is one of the smallest and sweetest bananas around. It is only 3 inches long, and a native of Colombia. It is an excellent source of heart-healthy vitamin B6. This baby banana can be backed, sautéed, broiled, and even grilled.
Red banana is heartier and slightly sweeter than yellow banana. When ripe, they have maroon/purple skin to almost black, and the flesh is pinkish, or salmon yellow. The Red banana has a raspberry hint of flavor. It also contains more beta carotene, and vitamin C than the regular yellow banana.
Plantain bananas are the starchy member of the banana family, plantains look like over-sized bananas with a thicker skin, but unlike other bananas, plantain bananas are rarely eaten raw. They are usually served steamed, baked, boiled or fried in sweet and savory dishes.
Plantains can be eaten at any stage of ripeness when properly prepared. The degree of ripeness will determine what cooking technique or recipe to use. Green fruit, or fruit that is just turning yellow is starchy like a potato and is best fried or boiled.
How a banana gets to the Market;
Within 36 hours of harvest, bananas are packed in special shipping cartons and loaded onto refrigerated ships. Refrigeration “puts the bananas to sleep” and temporarily prevents them from ripening. They’re transported to market in refrigerated trucks. The whole process from the farm to our store takes about two weeks.
Most people like their bananas at color stage 5, yellow with green tips and necks, or stage 6, all yellow except for green necks.
If the bananas you buy are too green, leave them out at room temperature or to speed up the process you can put them in a brown paper bag with an apple or tomato overnight.
You can slow down the banana ripening process by storing the fruit in the refrigerator. The skin may darken, but the banana will be just right for several days.
If your bananas get too ripe before you can eat them, don’t throw them away. Store them peeled in the freezer in a baggie to use in baked goods, smoothies or shakes.