Banana: The Good Fruit Guide View

Without doubt, bananas are the most popular fruit in the UK and probably the world. They are so convenient, a nice natural package of delicious and fragrant flesh, easy to use, cheap and nutritious. Sweet bananas are great for packed lunches, picnics and snacks, can be spread on bread, mixed with cream (or yoghurt!), baked in cakes and bread and are essential in fruit salads – wow!

But don’t forget the importance of starchy bananas such as plantain, as, in many tropical countries, they are a staple form of carbohydrate in the diet.

We think sweet bananas are a must for any exciting fruit bowl, but recognise that for some, their strong flavour is an acquired taste.

Banana - Directory of Varieties

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Apple Banana

The apple banana is small, sweet, easy to peel, and, at their best, completely irresistible – a true 5 Star fruit. However, although they are imported into the UK, they rarely reach our supermarkets – you are more likely to find them in ethnic corner shops. The Bananito is similar, grown in countries such as … Read More »

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Bananito

These are Lady Finger bananas which are sold in UK supermarkets as ‘Bananito’. They are very similar to the Apple Banana. Small and sweet and delicious. Origin: The Lady Finger Banana is a diploid (AA) cultivar of the seeded banana Musa acuminata. Grown in: Columbia, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Hawaii, Australia

Banana

Cavendish

The standard Cavendish banana is the main variety grown for Western markets. It is staple fare in the supermarkets, so there isn’t much variation for consumers. Mainly, you can chose between big and small, slightly less yellow and slightly more yellow, organic and non-organic, different brands and different origins, none of which make a huge … Read More »

Cavendish Valery

Cavendish Valery Origin: Grown in: Peru

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Plantain

Plantain is a staple diet to millions of people in East and West Africa, the Caribbean, Central and South America, Sri Lanka and the Philippines. It is a highly versatile fruit and can be cooked in numerous ways – fried, boiled, mashed, steamed, etc. Origin: Native to South and South-east Asia and Oceania. Grown in: … Read More »

Banana - How to Determine Quality

In Stores:

  • Depth of colour is the best indication of ripeness in bananas
    • Pale green with dark edges indicates early ripeness and flesh that will be firm and possibly still slightly starchy
    • Deep yellow indicates ripe fruit that will be sweet, but with flesh that may start to soften. Flavour at this stage will be most advanced.
    • Fruit that are really ripe and soft will have deep yellow skin with brown spotting
  • Select bananas with skin colour to suit your storage needs. Greener fruit should last for 5-7 days; yellower fruit will need to be eaten in 3-4 days unless you like the softness and fragrance of the most ripe fruit.
  • Avoid fruit that is bruised – you can usually feel bruised areas as slightly soft, and there will be brown discolouration.
  • Banana skin is very sensitive to abrasion, so will show superficial black marks from handling: these will not normally affect the eating quality.
  • Avoid any sign of breakdown or split fruit.
  • Don’t buy fruit that have a dull gray-yellow appearance as this is an indication of chill damage.

At Home:

  • Never store bananas in a refrigerator. They are very sensitive to cold temperatures which make the skin go dull and may affect the flavour.
  • Always store bananas at room temperature (more than 140C) and away from cold drafts.
  • Avoid rough handling as the skin and flesh are easily bruised.

Quality Problems:

  • Starchy flesh indicates immature fruit.
  • Bruises and damage from rough handling.
  • Dense black areas of the skin indicate post-harvest disease.
  • Dull gray-yellow skin colour indicates the fruit has been exposed to low temperatures (less than 140C).

Banana - The Science

Description: Finger-like fruit grown on lush fleshy trees made up of entwined leaves
Family: Musaceae
Species
: Musa cavendishii, Musa acuminate (Apple banana)
Storage: Bananas are pick and shipped in a green condition, then ripened in special chambers before sale. They are very sensitive to low temperature (suffering chill damage below 14oC), so need to be kept at room temperature at home – DO NOT REFRIGERATE!
Nutrition: High in Potassium and Magnesium
Grown in
: Bananas are grown in all moist tropical countries, but the main commercial plantations are in Central America, Columbia, Ecuador, the Caribbean, Cameroons, Ivory Coast, India, Philippines, Malaysia and Australia.

Other Websites

Banana.com – general information about bananas

Banana Link – campaigns for a fair and sustainable banana trade

Chiquita Bananas – consumer site

Dole Bananas – consumer site

UNCTAD – general information about banana and their trade

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