Banana is the third most popular fruit world wide after apples and oranges. A very healthy and excellent fruit rich in potassium other minerals and vitamins. Banana fruit is from the Musaceae family.
Banana fruit when fully ripe is long thick skinned edible fruit that is yellow in color. Banana plants grow up to 15 m and most vary from 3 to 9 m. It has very huge leafs that can grow to 4 x 1 m. Banana come originally from the Indo-Malaysian area and now cultivated all over the tropical and subtropical continents. Bananas are usually yellow and green when unripe but there are also other varieties like red and brown cultivars. The red cultivar is smaller and stubbier than the yellow one.
They grow in large bunches near the top of banana plants and the plant can become quite tall in short amount of time above 25 feet in height in a year and typically produces fruit 15-18 months after planting. Bananas are long curving cylindrical in shape and the bottom end narrows to a point while the top end has a thick stem that attaches the fruit to the inflorescence stalk. The flesh of the ripe banana is creamy white and soft.
The fruit releases off large amounts of ethylene gas, and can help ripen green tomatoes and/or avocados in warehouses if placed nearby. The fruit is a healthy snack and comes in a natural envelope, but bruises easily. Banana is versatile and can be eaten just like that peeling off the skin or flamed, baked, used in sandwiches or curries, pastries, cakes and in fruit salads, but deteriorates when refrigerated. The ripe bananas are to be stored in room temperature. If you want the bananas to ripen faster place the bowl in the sun. Like other tropical fruits and tomatoes and bell peppers, never store bananas in the refrigerator. The fruit would decay fast if the temperature is below 8 degrees Celsius. These fruits will not ripen but will turn black in the refrigerator.
There are about 5 different varieties of bananas that include the Red banana which has a green or red peel and pink fruit flesh. They taste the same like yellow banana and the redder the fruit the more carotene it contains and healthier than the yellow ones. Fruit banana are the normal yellow banana 15-30 cm in size. Apple bananas are smaller about 8-10 cm and ripen faster. They are also yellow in color. The baby banana (pisang susa) is yellow as well and measure 6-8 cm. This variety is the sweetest of the banana family. Baking bananas are 30-40 cm large and are either green, yellow are red in color and cannot be eaten raw. They fulfill the role of the potato in the tropical countries.
Banana is available throughout the year in North America and is one of the most inexpensive fruit from all the others. Ripen banana fruits are excellent for maximum flavors. They are one of the most popular fresh fruits and they have a peel that comes off easily, they ripen after they’ve been picked, there is a generous supply all year. Bananas have both a high amount of carbohydrates as well as potassium, which also makes them the most wanted fruit of choice for many athletes and also given as baby food.
Bananas are the basic food in many tropical countries and a lot of dishes can be made with the unripe and ripe banana. Unripe banana can be cooked, fried or deep fried. Naming few popular recipes are the banana fry, banana bajjis etc and banana dosai are one of the most popular dish prepared in the southern India. In Eastern Africa, beer is brewed from bananas. Banana or plantains can be used for cooking at any stage of ripeness. Plantains from the yellow to black stages can be used in sweet dishes. Steam-cooked plantains are considered a nutritious food for infants and the elderly. A ripe plantain is used as food for infants at weaning; it is mashed with a pinch of salt and is believed to be more easily digestible than ripe banana.
Nendran on of the ripe yellow fruits of a local variety in the South Indian state of Kerala are deep fried after dipping in a thin batter of gram flour. This is a staple breakfast in this region of India. The ripened fruit after removing the skin can be sliced and pan fried in oil until golden brown or also baked in oven adding little cinnamon powder over the enhance the flavor.
Plátanos maduros are a favorite in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, El Salvador, Guatemala, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, Colombia, Cuba, Puerto Rico (where they are called amarillos), Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago and most of the English-speaking Caribbean (although just called plantain), Nicaragua and in Venezuela. In Costa Rica, they are sprinkled with sugar. In western Nigeria, fried, sliced plantains are known as dodo, and in Cameroon, they are known as missole. In Venezuela, the ripe fruit is cut lengthwise and fried until golden and sticky, as a very popular side dish called tajadas; they are an integral piece of the national dish, pabellon criollo. When green, plantain is tough and starchy. In Colombia green plantains are used to thicken and flavor stews. Plantains are everywhere in West African cooking. They’re nibbled as street snacks, pounded into mashes and Foofoos, added to soups and stews, and served as dessert.
Plantains are used virtually at every stage of their maturing process. The green ones are peeled, sliced, and deep-fried as chips. The ripe yellow ones are used as a starch to accompany main dishes and the super ripe black ones in which the starch has turned to sugar appear as desserts. This is one way to serve plantain that appeal to everyone.
Popular dish prepared traditionally where they sprinkle the plantain slices with the sugar, allow the sugar to caramelize slightly, and then remove the plantains from the skillet. Serve warm. These plantain slices are also particularly good when served over rice cream, topped with the caramelized oil or margarine from the pan. A very comfort and delicious food!
Ripe Plantain is a great energy food being mostly carbohydrate, with a small amount of protein and fiber. This food is an excellent source of potassium and contains vitamin C, vitamin B6, and magnesium. It also supplies the carotenoid beta-carotene and contains folic acid, a B vitamin, which is especially important for pregnant woman and the prevention of birth defects. A fruit that is good for people who want to put on weight as they contain lot of starch (more starch than sugar) and not advised for diabetic patients!
High in iron, bananas can stimulate the production of hemoglobin in the blood and so helps in cases of anemia. This unique tropical fruit is extremely high in potassium yet low in salt, making it the perfect way to beat high blood pressure. High in fiber, bananas in the diet can help restore normal bowel action, helping to overcome the problem without resorting to laxatives. They have a natural antacid effect in the body, so if you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for soothing relief. Bananas are high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous system. As potassium is a vital mineral, which helps normalize the heartbeat, sends oxygen to the brain and regulates your body’s water balance. When we are stressed, our metabolic rate rises, thereby reducing our potassium levels. These can be rebalanced with the help of a high-potassium banana snack.
The nutritional values of about 5 medium pieces of ripe bananas (5.2 oz approx.) are:
Calories: 310 kcal
Total Fat: 8 gm
Saturated Fat: 1.5 gm
Sodium: 5 mg
Dietary Fiber: 6 gm
Sugars: 19 gm
Total Carbohydrates: 63 gm