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The Ultimate Banana Buyers Guide

Posted by Davbmn on 04/10/06 at 12:00 PM

imageAll you never wanted to know about bananas

When thinking of fruit, most people can’t help but to picture a banana almost immediately. Bananas were first introduced to the American public at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition, the same expo that introduced Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone. They were wrapped in tin foil and sold for 10 cents each.

Over the years, the banana has become one of the most well known fruits and is symbolic of what many believe to be the perfect fruit. The average person in North America alone consumes approximately 29 pounds of (yellow cavendish) bananas per year, making it the world’s most popular fruit.

Bananas come primarily from Central and South America, where they are harvested while they are still green; because if vine-ripened, the starch in the bananas doesn’t turn to sugar and they become overly bland and have a definite cottony texture. There’s no harm in eating a less-than-ripe banana, unless it’s extremely green, though it may be rather hard to digest.

Bananas that require further ripening should be left at room temperature, but away from heat or direct sun. To speed ripening, place them in a brown paper bag. Putting an apple in the bag will further speed the ripening process. Once ripened to your liking, bananas can be held at room temperature for a day or two. Then, you can store them in the refrigerator to slow down ripening; although the skins will turn dark, the fruits will remain perfectly edible. You can keep refrigerated bananas for up to two weeks. But never refrigerate unripe bananas. The exposure to cold temperatures interrupts their ripening cycle, and it will not resume even if the fruits are returned to room temperature.

Bananas should be plump, firm, and brightly colored. Look for fruit with no large brown spots. Occasional brown spots on the skin are normal, but sunken, moist-looking dark areas will likely show up as bruises on the fruit. Bananas should have their stem ends and skins intact: A split skin or stem may become an entry point for contamination.

Bananas contain an enzyme (called polyphenol oxidase or tyrosinase) that reacts with oxygen and iron-containing phenols that are also found in apples. The oxidation reaction basically forms a sort of rust on the surface of the fruit. You notice as the fruit turns brown when the fruit is cut or bruised because these actions damage the cells in the fruit, allowing oxygen in the air to react with the enzyme and other chemicals.

You can save overripe bananas by peeling them, wrapping them in plastic wrap, and freezing them. Eat them frozen or thaw them and use for baking,(like Banana Puddin’; mmmmmmmm) where peak sweetness and “mushiness” are desirable. There’s no quality difference between small and large fruit, so you can choose the “portion size” you prefer. Bananas bruise easily, so handle them with care.

Here is a rundown of the nutritional information for yellow dessert bananas.

Calories 109; Total fat (g) 0.6; Saturated fat (g) 0.2; Monounsaturated fat (g) 0; Polyunsaturated fat (g) 0.1; Dietary fiber (g) 2.8; Protein (g) 1; Carbohydrate (g) 28; Sodium (mg) 1;
Vitamin B6 (mg) 0.7; Potassium (mg) 467

Further Reading:

- Some Banana based recipes from About.com
For you green thumbs, Grow Bananas right at your desk
- The Complete Guide to Bananas at Banana.com
- Wikipedia’s entry on Bananas

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  1. Thanks for the tips, I happen to think that bananas are the perfect fruits, they are nutritive, rich in vitamins and can provide countless benefits to our organism. I’ll keep all this information in mind next time I’ll buy bananas.

    Posted by roger  on  03/31/09  at  11:15 AM